Asli Azadi

India wins Freedom the controversial autobiography of Bharat Ratna Maulana Abul Kalam Azad could not be published for decades and was released from its seal only in 1988. Available now in paperback from Orient Longman, the text provides an intimate glimpse into our freedom struggle.

November 11, the birth anniversary of the Maulana is National Education Day. As the first Union Minister of Education of independent India he was responsible for setting up many of the structures that we see today- the UGC being the most visible.

There are many institutions named after him, a special one being the Maulana Abul Kalam Azad Institute of Asian Studies, established in 1993 by the Government of West Bengal and the Department of Culture of the Government of India. The Institute was established with the objective of carrying out research on social, cultural, economic and political and administrative developments in Asia from the middle of the 19th century onwards, with special emphasis on their links with India, and also on the life and works of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad. They have a vibrant - if somewhat eclectic- publications program.

A biography of Nehru that has recently become available in India is Walter Crocker's Nehru, A contemporary's estimate from Random House. Writing about it in Outlook, Mark Tully is effusive: "I have read many books on Nehru but none has left such a deep impression on me as Walter Crocker’s biography. It should never have been out of print but was for some time and has just been rescued with a foreword by Ramachandra Guha which it is difficult for any reviewer to match up to. The strength of Walter Crocker’s comparatively brief biography is his sympathy for Nehru."

The closeness of Nehru and Azad is well known- as this charming image that is available on the net testifies. As does this fragment of Homai Vyarawalla's brilliant portrait of the Cabinet (with C Rajagopalachari in the original- see it in Sabeena Gadhioke's marvellous book, India in Focus!)

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