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BOOK CORNER: WHAT INDIA MEANT TO ME–Lord Mountbatten of Burma

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–Read India Initiative—

This is only an attempt to create interest in reading. We may not get the time to read all the books in our lifetime. But such reviews, talk and synopsis will at least convey what the book is all about.

WHAT INDIA MEANT TO ME

By Lord Mountbatten of Burma

(An excerpt from the lost pages)

(Lord Mountbatten of Burma is a title in the peerage of the United Kingdom. In 1947 it was for rear admiral Louis Mount Batten, 1st viscount, Mount Batten of Burma and the last viceroy of India)

    Lord Mountbatten had both emotional as well as a professional cause for loving India:

    There was a special reason why Lord Mountbatten had an additional warm spot in his heart for India. While he was in Delhi staying at the old makeshift viceregal lodge, a young girl, of whom he had become very fond in England had come to stay with the viceroy, Lord Reading. Her name was Edwina Ashley. On 14 February 1922, during a dance in the house he sat out with her during the fifth dance in a small sitting room and proposed marriage to her. She accepted his proposal and all his happiness started from there … what you call India.

    The Prince of Wales (the heir apparent to the British throne) was delighted at this and was most helpful. Mountbatten had to have the king’s permission to marry and he saw all that. Later he discovered there had only been one dissenting voice when he and Edwina announced their engagement—and that was the vicereine—lady Reading, who wrote to Edwina’s aunt and said: ‘I’m afraid she has definitely made up her mind about him. I hope she could have cared for someone older, with more of a career behind him.’

    Soon both Edwina and Mountbatten  were tied to India with a possible bond of memory and affection, which clearly played an important part in their lives when he came out in 1947, as the last viceroy and indeed when he started as the first Governor-General of independent India

    Mountbatten makes another interesting highlight. In 1943 when he set up the supreme allied command in South-East Asia, he had closed on a million, Indian sailors, soldiers and airmen serving under him. He was particularly proud of this and admired their courage and steadfastness. They certainly fought magnificently and made a great international name for themselves.

    Thus when he finally came out as a viceroy he could add to his feeling of twenty-five years of love for India his two and a half years association with so many fighting men in war.    

    No wonder it was easy for him to feel the real happiness at being back in India, a country where Edwina and Mountbatten had grown to love among the people they admired and liked so much.

    What India meant to him can be summed up in one phrase in his own words:

    ‘Fascination, affection and happiness.’

    (LOUIS FRANCIS ALBERT NICHOLAS GEORGE MOUNTBATTEN, First Earl Mountbatten of Burma, British admiral and statesman, was the last Viceroy and the first Governor-General of independent India. He died in 1979 at the age of 79).

Synopsis by Kamlesh Tripathi

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