I just ordered Indian Summer: The Secret History of the End of an Empire written by Alex Tunzelmann. Below is the first paragraph from the book:
In the beginning there were two nations. One was a vast, mighty and magnificent empire, brilliantly organized and culturally unified, which dominated a massive swath of the earth. The other was an undeveloped semi-feudal realm, riven by religious factionalism and barely able to feed its illiterate, diseased and stinking masses. The first nation was India. The second was England.
And then, after two hundred years of British imperialism, the author argues, the situation was completely reversed! (The “beginning” she’s referring to is 1577, when the Mughal empire was at its peak under the great emperor Akbar, in case you’re wondering.)
It’s difficult to imagine a country as diverse as India to be “culturally unified” as the author suggests, but even after adjusting for the exaggeration, the shift in opposite direction is as conspicuous as it is interesting. It shows what imperialism often does to the ruled, and to the ruler.
Due to some early mixed reviews and the gimmicky subtitle (The Secret History of the End of an Empire) the book didn’t make it to my bookshelf in spite of its tempting subject. But now someone is making a movie based on this book with primary focus on Nehru and Edwina’s “clandestine and intense” relationship and my curiosity skyrocketed. And why not, after all one of the cover designs of this book features the infamous picture (the image on the right) that inspired me to write a post that’s very close to my heart: Love to Hate Nehru.
Unfortunately, but expectantly, the production of Indian Summer has been halted. The Indian government officials are evaluating the salacity of the script. “It was a relationship of great friendship between individuals of the opposite sex but at what point that relationship becomes more is between them. The desire to guard a reputation is institutional,” said Nehru’s biographer M J Akbar.