On India by Kshushwant Singh- Review


Book Name         - On India
Author                  - Kshushwant Singh
Publisher              - Rupa Publications
Number of Pages - 141
Publishing Year   -  2017
Edition                  - Paperback
Price                     - 195

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Rating : 3.5


My Review

To review the book of a renowned, talented and great writer is an adventure in itself for a blogger. Going into the details of his literary prowess might sound absurd.Hence I am not delving much into the literary part. The book is a selection of writings by Kshushwant singh, compiled by his daughter Mala Dayal. There is an ideal that the author holds, that is discernible throughout the book.


Author is proud to be an Indian, isn't he? The question prevails in the mind of the readers after completing the book. There are a lot of facts about India that author despises, yet he takes a stand against Pakistan. Hence we can conclude that he is proud to be an Indian, but for some hitches. He introduces us to an era when you would be asked 'What are you?' instead of 'Who are you?' The religion, caste, sub caste and region decided who you are. Author wonders if a time would come when people says that I am an Indian, first and then their region and caste. 

After spending a better part of his life in Delhi, author finds seven reasons for his love for Delhi. He has seen the city prosper from the abode of deer, nilgais and wild boar, to the present metropolis, more so because his father Shobha Singh received the contract to build the South block, India Gate and much else. Even-though  he could find more that seventy reasons to hate Delhi, he finds the seven reasons more than enough to love this mystic city. After Delhi, author introduces the readers to Bombay, Madras and Calcutta through his eyes. Author's pro- congress ideal starts to divulge from this chapter. Right from his difference in opinion about changing Bombay's name to Mumbai, the political inclinations becomes evident. Author has unambiguously expressed his hatred towards Calcutta(Kolkata)but the reasons have been reserved.

The chapter 'Going Gaga over Yoga' is completely dedicated to criticizing Swami Dhirendra Brahmachari and other yoga masters. In an intention to lay bare the exploitation in the name of yoga author has somewhat crossed the line, but India is a democracy and everyone has the right to opinion. Bara Mah is a novel attempt to translate Guru Nanak's poems. Other it might not be easy for a non-sikh to get hold of the same. The next three chapters Monsoon, Springtime and Festival for everyone are the celebrations of nature and literature.

Further writings compares the Indian and foreign standards in etiquette, cuisines, appearance etc. The chapters that explain how pseudo man gods have blinded the educated and sophisticated lot is an eye opener. Author's notes on juggernaut of Hindu fundamentalism would not go down well with many. He had conveniently avoided the topic of Muslim terrorism there but at another point he has mentioned an instance where he has raised his voice against Jarnail singh when he made hateful utterances about hindus but that was like a needle in the haystack compared to the other side of the coin.

Ms. Mala Dayal has done a good job in editing the book and collecting and categorizing the writings in a systematic and schematic fashion. She has ended the book on a hilarious note by adding a collection of jokes written by Author himself.

This review is in return of a free book from the publisher  

About the author


Born in the village of Hadali in Punjab (now in Pakistan) in 1915, Khushwant Singh over the years had acquired an iconic stature. He is, arguably, India’s best-known and most widely read author, columnist and journalist. He was the founder-editor of Yojana and editor of The Illustrated Weekly of India, National Herald and the Hindustan Times. Over the past six decades, he has published several bestselling non-fiction and fiction titles, including Train to Pakistan, I Shall Not Hear the Nightingale and Delhi; his autobiography, Truth, Love and Little Malice; and the two-volume work, A History of the Sikhs. Khushwant Singh was a member of the Rajya Sabha from 1980 to 1986. He was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1974 which he returned in 1984 to protest the siege of the Golden Temple by the Indian Army. In 2007, he was awarded India’s second highest civilian honour, the Padma Vibhushan. Singh passed away on 20 March 2014. He is survived by his son, Rahul Singh, daughter, Mala Dayal, and granddaughter, Naina Dayal. Mala Dayal is the author of Nanak: The Guru, The Story of Hanuman, The Story of Krishna and The Ramayana in Pictures. She is based in Delhi.




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