My Book Review of ‘Rising: 30 Women Who Changed India’

Rising – 30 women who changed India – a non-fiction title by Kiran Manral and published by Rupa covers the inspiring journeys of 30 Indian women from various fields who blazed a trail for others to follow. Manral has allocated a chapter for each achiever, and she has meticulously listed all her references from secondary research at the end of each chapter. A few of the achievers have been interviewed as well.

In the Introduction, Manral says, “The aim of this book is not to eulogize these powerful women or to put them on a pedestal. They probably wouldn’t care for something as pedestrian as pedestals anyway; they shine wherever they are, regardless of spotlights. The aim rather is to tell their stories, through what we know of them, from information available in the public domain or from first-hand accounts given by those who were gracious enough to spare some time to tell us about their journey.”

Book Cover

The women featured include Sushma Swaraj, Sheila Dikshit, M. Fathima Beevi, Mahasweta Devi, Amrita Sher-Gil, Amrita Pritam, Sonal Mansingh, Lata Mangeshkar, Anita Desai, M.S.Subbulakshmi, Harita Kaur Deol, Madhuri Dixit, Bachendri Pal, Rekha, Chhavi Rajawat, Karnam Malleswari, Shailaja Teacher, Hima Das, Naina Lal Kidwai, Shakuntala Devi, P.T.Usha, P.V.Sindhu, Ekta Kapoor, Kiran Bedi, Mary Kom, Menaka Guruswamy, Tessy Thomas, Aparna Sen, Kiran-Mazumdar Shaw and Maharani Gayatri Devi.

The first woman to be featured in the book was Sushma Swaraj – the former minister of External Affairs in the Narendra Modi-led government. She was also the former CM of Delhi and former Lok Sabha Speaker.

I was particularly inspired by the chapters on Mahasweta Devi, Amrita Pritam and Anita Desai, literary luminaries who have won major national and international awards for their pathbreaking work.  Of Mahasweta Devi at the Jaipur Literary Festival, Manral says, “The speaker was Mahasweta Devi – author, iconoclast, social activist; the labels didn’t really matter.”

Of Amrita Pritam, Manral writes, “In her writings and her life, she leaves behind a legacy for women writers in India which urges them to defy social constructs and constraints, challenge them and to live and write as she did – unfettered.”

About Anita Desai, Manral writes, “With her immense body of work, she remains firmly one of the most powerful voices in post-colonial Indian writing in English.”

“Every story is replete with takeaways, lessons to be learnt, not just professionally but otherwise, too. These women have lived life on their own terms, becoming a beacon of hope to many others, women and men alike. If after learning about these inspirational women, a young girl, anywhere in the country thinks to herself, ‘That could be me! If she can do it, so can I, this book would have served its purpose,” says Manral towards the end of her Introduction.  

I recommend this book to young women who aspire to follow the pathbreaking women before them who have earned a place in India’s history in the fields of politics, sports, acting, art, writing, painting etc.  

You can buy the book here.

This review is powered by the Blogchatter Book Review Program.

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