This is a remarkable book on Indian urban middle class. Indian urban middle class is one that has lost the most as they expected a lot from democratic India born out of the British Empire. The class of Indian society has given more than it has been rewarded but still, they are eternally hopeful. This book traces one such `khatri' family through World War I, the Rowlatt Act of 1919, the softening of British Empire, the Quit India Movement, the error of Gandhi and his time in jail, rise of Jinnah and the two nation theory, Lord Mountbatten and the Radcliffe Line, the ensuing riots/genocide on both sides of the border, the perceived loss of Hindu's, idealistic dreamer named Nehru, Indo-China ties, the rise of the Indian bureaucrats, the convoluted democracy led in succession by Nehru family, tyranny of Indira Gandhi, Sanjay inspired emergency and search for spirituality among the new Indian middle class.
Gurcharan Das relates the life of Bauji, a `khatri' lawyer from East Punjab who represented the pre-independence progressive Indians. The ones, who used education to further the development of their people, who will lead India from freedom to glory. But Bauji got caught on the wrong side of the Radcliffe Line and did not believe that his countrymen will turn the joyous occasion of their freedom to one of the most hateful episode of communal riots in the modern history. Like many other unfortunate but brave souls with similar experience, Bauji builds his life again in free India, better life than his more fortunate countrymen. Alas, he finds out that the country he dreamed about is being run as an inefficiency and bad politics. His grandson, Arjun, carries his torch of middle class honesty, stubborn sense of justice and good-natured industry. The boundaries of a rigid Hindu society are extended by these bold, sensuous `khatri' males.
I hope some day; all Indians are literate to read books like these. So that we can hang our head in shame for religion based politics and riots. This will stop politicians, from asking us to be Hindus, Tamil, Muslim, etc., before being human.