Book Review: On India by Khushwant Singh, Edited by Mala Dayal

Book Name: On India

Author: Khushwant Singh

Editor: Mala Dayal

Rating: 5/5

Book Blurb: Khushwant Singh was convinced that India is a great country. He believed that we are the world’s largest democracy and our people, including women, enjoy a measure of political freedom unknown to any other developing country of the world.

On India is a selection of Singh’s best writings on the country. The selection of articles in this book spans a wide range of topics: The four metropolises, including the seven reasons why Khushwant Singh loves Delhi, recollections of the Partition, the seasons, holy men, etiquette, rise of the far Right and corruption, among others. The book ends on a happy note with some of the author’s favourite jokes.
Khushwant Singh’s on India will help us understand India better.

Review: Only recently, I was having a conversation with a learned friend and after discussing a host of writers, we agreed that none other than Khushwant Singh had carried the mantle of being one of the most honest writers in independent India. His irreverence towards one and all, his inimitable humour and knack of composing stories out of ordinary matter is what endeared him to all.

This book On India is a fine collection of Khushwant Singh’s writings on his country which in his own words:

“Why am I an Indian? I did not have any choice: I was born one. If the good Lord had consulted me on the subject I might have chosen a country more affluent, less crowded, less censorious in matters of food and drink…”

That’s as honest as one could get!

As many would know, Khushwant Singh was also an erudite scholar of Urdu and I first became fascinated with the language and its poetry after reading his autobiography, “Truth, Love and a Little Malice.”  Khsuhwant Singh’s works were known for their in depth knowledge of Urdu shayari and his political acumen.

The collection of writings is nice and covers almost all of Khuswant Singh’s important writings on Yoga, the cities he lived in and an ardent admirer of his writings is likely to have read many or all of these snippets before but its always a nice feeling to revisit and relive some of the best writings of the Grand Old writer who made literature fun.

As a bonus, you also get treated to some of his best jokes in the end. Mala Dayal is doing a great service by bringing back her father’s writings and introducing it to the present generation. There is no better writer than him to understand post colonial India.


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