–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.
‘INDIA’S GREATEST SPEECHES’
compiled by Nitin Agarwal.
Publisher: Grapevine India Publishers Ltd.
Published in 2014.
Price Rs/ 195.
Most of the speeches are available in the archives. Yet, I would say Nitin has done a good job of providing them in a ready made platter. The selection of speeches and the introduction of the personality before each speech is also quite absorbing. At times we all feel we know a celebrity quite well but when you start reading about him you feel otherwise.
On the whole, it’s a stimulating collection of thoughtful speeches delivered by some of the most prominent personalities of India. But then, one view point could be, why, read these speeches at all? Why look back? What do you gain out of them? Well, let me tell you. Behind, every speech lies the covert and overt accomplishment of the personality. The essence of the orator’s personality, which knowingly or unknowingly, directly or indirectly comes out for the betterment of the common man. There is a verse in Gita that says, ‘Masses follow the classes.’ Moreover, speeches often silhouette the inveterate mind-set of the orator. It at times, even, doubles up as a mini biography of the personality.
Set to inspire, the book includes, some of the most stirring and eloquent addresses by Rabindranath Tagore, Swami Vivekananda, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Mother Teresa, JRD Tata, Abdul Kalam, Narendra Modi and many other influential Indian leaders.
Book starts with a short insight from Bhagavad Gita. It then goes on to cover twenty five speeches of 23 cynosure personalities of India. One will find, a good amount of historical perspective in some of the speeches. Almost all speeches are loaded with aspects of challenge, failure, success struggle, decision making, telling of tough tales and life lessons and in the ultimate, the making of those towering personalities.
An interesting pattern that unknowingly emerges out of the book is, the feel of what India, or the bigwigs of India were, towards the end of the nineteenth century, when Swami Vivekananda delivered that famous speech in Chicago in 1893 up to almost a decade and a half after independence say 1965, and how India changed after 1965, and with that, the personalities, the viewpoints, the values and even the ambitions. The world of today has become more complex, where competition has intensified, struggles, have become long and even tougher. Globalisation has taken over issues and nothing is isolated and everything is known to everyone. The speeches post 1965 reflect that in some way or the other. So, times have changed. The span of speeches is from 1893 to present days.
There are two speeches of Mahatma Gandhi delivered in the years 1912 and 1922. When you read these speeches you get an eerie feeling, as to how different, India has become, since then. Shaheed Bhagat Singh’s famous daring statement before Lahore High Court Bench exhibits his jasba … his passion for his motherland—India.
In the year 1937 Veer Damodar Savarkar then president of Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha delivered a speech in Karnavati defining Hinduism which is very interesting. There are other master pieces too, namely Tagore in 1941, and Dr Radhakrishnan in 1947.
Then you have the famous speeches of Subhas Chandra Bose—Give me Blood and I promise you Freedom, and Nehru’s ‘Tryst with Destiny.’
In the year 1948 Sardar Vallabhbai Patel delivered his famous speech at Calcutta Maidan on unification of India. Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya a very important leader of Jana Sangh, (now morphed into BJP) in the year 1965 had addressed a full house on Integral Humanism.
One is really moved by the humbleness of Mother Teresa when one goes through her address that she made in 1979 in that historic speech at the time of accepting the Nobel Peace Prize and JRD Tata’s, superlative speech in the year 1982 on his Historic Flight Re-enactment and that famous speech of Mrs Gandhi, her last one in 1984 after which she was assassinated.
Who can forget Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s famous 2001 address in United Nations General Assembly? And, Narayana Murthy, in his 2007, pre-commencement address at New York University describing his volatile journey.
There are two speeches of Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivered in 2014, one at FICCI Ahmedabad and the second on Independence Day that outlines India’s future and what he intends doing for the country. Then we have President Abdul Kalam’s par-excellence speech that he delivered in 2011 which is so very educative.
On the creative side there is AR Rahman’s 2009, Oscar Awards Acceptance address and Shahrukh Khan’s famous, ‘Courage in Success’ delivered in 2013.
Lifetime Achievement Awards don’t come easy. Everyone knows about the struggle Azim Premji took to erect his mighty Empire. He speaks on the occasion in the year 2013, at the Economic Times Awards.
And last but not the least the making of the world champions. Sports achievements are one of the toughest where you start alone and if you’re not successful you go into oblivion followed by depression. There are three wonderful speeches. One is by Viswanathan Anand, 2007, Speech at NIIT Chennai, second is by Abhinav Bindra, 2013, at GoSports Foundation Conclave and the third is by Master Blaster Sachin Tendular, 2013, A Farewell to Cricket.
Overall it’s an interesting read, if you want to know about these personalities and their tedious journey to fame.
A list of speeches is as follows:
- Swami Vivekananda 1893 The Chicago Address (Opening Day).
- Mahatma Gandhi 1912 Banaras Hindu University Speech.
- Mahatma Gandhi 1922 The Great Trial of 1922.
- Shaheed Bhagat Singh 1930 Statement before the Lahore High Court Bench.
- Veer Damodar Savarkar 1937 Presidential Address, Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha defining Hinduism.
- Rabindranath Tagore, 1941, Civilization’s Crisis, The Last Testament of Tagore.
- Subhas Chandra Bose, 1944, Give Me Blood and I Promise You Freedom.
- Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, 1947, Speech as First Vice-President of India.
- Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, 1947, Tryst with Destiny.
- Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, 1948, Speech at Calcutta Maidan.
- Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya, 1965, Lecture on Integral Humanism.
- Mother Teresa, 1979, Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance.
- JRD Tata, 1982, Historic Flight Re-enactment.
- Indira Gandhi, 1984, The Last Speech.
- Atal Bihari Vajpayee, 2001, United Nations General Assembly Speech.
- Narayana Murthy, 2007, Pre-commencement address at New York University.
- Viswanathan Anand, 2007, Speech at NIIT, Chennai.
- AR Rahman, 2009, Oscar Awards Acceptance.
- APJ Abdul Kalam, 2011, Vision of India.
- Abhinav Bindra, 2013, GoSports Foundation Conclave.
- Shahrukh Khan, 2013, Courage in Success.
- Sachin Tendulkar, 2013, A Farewell to Cricket.
- Azim Premji, 2013, Lifetime Achievement Award Acceptance, Economic Times Awards.
- Narendra Modi, 2014, Speech at FICCI, Ahmedabad.
- Narendra Modi, 2014, Independence Day Speech.
By Kamlesh Tripathi
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