This book is a collection of some of the great speeches in India from 1857 onwards. The cover of the book has been interestingly designed with names of all those, whose speeches are a part of the book. Some of the names actually invite you to pick up the book Great Speeches of Modern India and read.
The book features some of the well-known speeches like Nehru’s speech on 15th Aug 1947. Nathuram Godse’s speech at his trial. Subhash Chandra Bose’s speech. Swami Vivekananda’s speech in Chicago. And various speeches by Mahatma Gandhi. Along with some speeches that are very interesting but not so well known.
I particularly liked speech by Lord Curzon on the preservation of monuments in India. He is supposed to be the key person behind the revival of many ancient monuments in India. Speech by Iqbal on Islam and the need of a separate state for Muslims was an eye-opener. For some reasons I never expected him to be holding such strong views and a key force behind the formation of Pakistan as a separate state. Mahatma Gandhi actually does not come out as a great orator, but rather someone who played more on the emotions.
While most of the speeches are political and by politicians. There are a few that are not political and hence stand out. There is a speech by Satyajit Ray. And a speech on Satyajit Ray by Amartya Sen. And if you have read books by Ray, both the speeches make an interesting reading. Both of them go on to prove Bengali love for talking at length as the speeches just go on and on.
There is another speech by Vikram Seth which he gave at one of the Doon school functions. Where he had studied a few years back. To me, this was the most interesting speech. As I had no clue about this speech. And what he tries to say in that speech is so real and true. Something that you do not expect an alumnus to say when he visits the school after ages. You would normally expect a nostalgic speech. But he goes and touches the ground realities of an emotional state of growing up in a boarding school and missing on the security of having a family around.
Though it seems easy, but, I am sure compiling speeches is a tough task. As they are definitely not as interesting to read as they would be to listen. And these powerful speakers would have said a lot when they made these speeches beyond what the words convey. Since the speeches in the book Great Speeches of Modern India have a spread of over 1.5 centuries, it is difficult for the reader of today to understand the complete relevance of the conveyed meaning at that point in time. At the same time, it is an interesting way to peep into the history, with no one giving you the interpretation of what is being said. Everything is left to your interpretation and your knowledge of the issue or topic being spoken about.
For some of the speeches that have been delivered in the recent past, at times you get the complete context rather than the distorted version that you would have otherwise understood through the media bashing.
The proofreading is pretty bad. As there were lots and lots of grammatical and spelling mistakes throughout the book. Otherwise, Great Speeches of Modern India is a good leisurely read, with occasional insights and revisits to known parts of the history.