Double Dose

Great Indian Speeches: One week two books: Penguin and Random House both bring out tributes to Indian oratory. The Penguin Book of Modern Indian Speeches: 1878 to the Present, is edited by Rakesh Batabyal, while Great Speeches of Modern India is edited by Rudrangshu Mukherjee.

There is overlap between them, of course, but the books are of very different sizes (over 150 speeches in one and less than 50 in the other) and there is much to enjoy from what is on offer. Gandhi, Nehru, Jinnah, Subhas Chandra Bose, Sardar Patel, Ambedkar, Indira Gandhi and Atal Bihari Vajpayee figure in both the books, but the somewhat more eclectic and unusual find their way into Batabyal's collection. Kashinath Trimbak Telang, N.G. Chandavarkar, Har Bilas Sarda, S. Satyamurti, O. Tanikachala Chettiyar, Jaipal Singh, V.I. Muniswamy Pillay, M. Singaravelu, N. Rachiah, O.V. Alagesan, Kapur Singh and Nath Pai, for instance. To find out more about them, come by the History and the General sections at the Scholars site. The General section on our site is, as you might expect, a catchall, especially for those books which are in a class by themselves...

We do not judge books by their covers, necessarily, but both Penguin and Random House have outdone themselves... A duller looking duo would be hard to find... And this too in these times when getting people to read is admittedly difficult.

Another suggestion to Penguin and to Random House: what about putting out a companion CD of audio versions of these speeches? The older ones may not be available, but surely the more recent ones- like Sonia Gandhi's renunciation- should make interesting hearing as well...

The Great Speeches of Modern India. Edited by Rudrangshu Mukherjee, Random House, Hardback, 256pages, Rs 350. ISBN:9788184000160

The Penguin Book of Modern Indian Speeches: 1877 to the Present. Edited by Rakesh Batabyal, Paperback, 952pp, Rs 595. ISBN: 014310263X