Christmas Book Flood | Recommending reading

24 November

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Letters from a Father to His Daughter
Jawaharlal Nehru
(UK: Viking India, @PenguinIndia, 2004; USA: Viking India, @PenguinIndia, 2004)

The 30 letters in Letters From A Father To His Daughter, were written by Nehru in the summer of 1928, when Indira was in Mussoorie, and he was in Allahabad. To make up for his absence, he wrote these letters. He wanted to make his daughter aware of her circumstances, of her environment. Nehru’s intention was to nurture Indira’s young and impressionable mind with an unprejudiced view of history, as well as the current state of affairs.

In these letters, Nehru takes up a variety of topics. He discusses natural history, the beginning of the earth and evolution. He talks about the varied races of the world, the genetic make-up, the differences in communities, and races, how these races were formed, and why people look different. Nehru also touches upon the topic of civilizations. He discusses the ancient civilizations, the great cities of ancient times, the origin of language and religion, the growth of mankind, and the changes in religion and its current manifestations. Nehru also elaborately discusses the history of India, the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, and the great kings of the past and their kingdoms. The topics of economics, trade, and travel were also tackled by Nehru. He wanted Indira to have an empathetic view towards the world, its conflicts and woes. He also touched upon topics like division of labour, problems of the peasants, and the economically deprived. The letters show Nehru’s love for nature, for people, for history, and also show his overwhelming desire to cultivate the same in his daughter.

As Indira Gandhi says in the introduction, these letters were instrumental in arousing in her an interest in people, and concern for them. These letters written by Jawaharlal Nehru to his daughter contain priceless guidance, advice and information given by a loving father to his daughter.

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Recommended by:
Priyanka Chopra