7 Biographies That Offer an In-Depth Insight Into South Asia

Jun 30, 2023, 09:47 PM IST

7 Biographies That Offer an In-Depth Insight Into South Asia

Mukul Sharma

1. Discovery of India by Jawaharlal Nehru

The autobiography of free India's first prime minister has been hailed as an indispensable insight into the making of a new India. A remarkable record of South Asian history, Nehru describes India in all its cultural glory, contradictions of tradition, and longing for a brighter, better, decolonised nation.

2. Freedom in Exile by 14th Dalai Lama

In an incredibly heartwarming and equally heartbreaking account of longing for home, the 14th Dalai Lama writes how he found his sense of belonging in India in a forced exile. The book has been hailed as "a call for freedom" for the Tibetan homeland under Chinese occupation.

3. Vajpayee: The Years That Changed India by Shakti Sinha

Written by former Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's private secretary, the biography is a brilliant account of a challenging period when India became a nuclear power, fought a conventional war and simultaneously rose as an economic power.

4. Daughter Of The East by Benazir Bhutto

This autobiographical account of Pakistan's incredibly popular yet equally divisive leader is much like an insider's account of how the country's military leadership runs its state of affairs. Bhutto's poignant writings from her period of military detention, despite her anti-India leanings and justification of terrorism, cast a unique light on the South Asian nation's quasi-democratic history.

5. The Prison Diaries by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman

Published in Bangla as Karagarer Rojnamcha, the biographical account of Bangladesh's founding father records a comprehensive account of present-day Pakistan's brutality against its erstwhile eastern arm which became independent as Bangladesh in 1971.

6. Sirimavo Bandaranaike: The World's First Woman Prime Minister

Sirimavo Bandaranaike of Sri Lanka (erstwhile Ceylon) became the world's first female prime minister in 1960. Her biography describes the South Asian island nation's coming-of-age from a period of colonialism while navigating ethnic strife and development-related challenges.

7. Afghan Napoleon: The Life of Ahmad Shah Massoud by Sandy Gall

Scottish journalist Sandy Gall's biographical account of Afghan politician and military commander Ahmad Shah Massoud, the Northern Alliance leader who was assassinated shortly before the 9/11 attacks, draws a poignant portrait of a nation where peace remains a contested affair.