Book Reviews
Life Exclusive
India wins Freedom: A true picture of the Freedom Movement

India wins Freedom is the best source for a ringside view of the happenings in pre-independence India between 1920 and 1947 from the eyes of the an insider—Maulana Abul Kalam Azad

I first heard about this book from my favourite English teacher at school, but could lay my hands only after I entered college. Reading it then, as out of school youngster living through the immediately post-independence era-then virtually one-party rule, one leader-Nehru, of the socialistic pattern of Five Year Plans with "commanding heights", the wars with Pakistan and China, was different from reading it now, with certain banned sections restored.

The story of how India wins Freedom was written by one of the most low profile dramatis personae of the Freedom Movement known to all as Maulana Azad, independent India's first education minister. It provides the reader a peek into what actually happened along the long road to freedom.

After all, over 30 million copies of this book have been sold. At his request the initial editions of India wins Freedom had blocked certain passages that he considered politically sensitive just then. Though its full text was confined under seal in the National Library, Calcutta and the National Archives, New Delhi for thirty years, in 1958 a slightly abridged and revised version was published leaving out "incidents and reflections mainly of a personal character."

I have now reviewed the complete text, its 2009 reprint-initially released in September 1988 under a court directive. All the words and phrases of the original have been reproduced to restore the tone and temper to unravel the controversies that simmered for long about what lay in the blocked text. The Maulana comes out with his frank personal assessments and forthright views of the events and personalities involved. He depicts them in their true colours that were hitherto shielded from public eye and his assessments, on the benefit of hindsight are bang on.

Abul Kalam Azad, a Maulana and a distinguished scholar was elected president of the Indian National Congress first in 1923. This was at a time when he and Gandhi just entered the Indian political arena almost hand-in-hand. He was considered closer to Nehru, but disapproved of his ways as those of Gandhiji and Sardar Patel-he doesn't mince words, he is brutally frank in expressing his views that he penned.    

The 1940s were momentous years in the history of the Freedom Movement. Azad was re-elected Congress president in 1940 and held office till 1946, another landmark year. Azad along with Gandhi and Nehru held talks with the British Cripps Mission, Viceroys Wavell and Mountbatten.

Azad recounts two of his conclusions during the talks with the British that were "doomed to failure". The arrest of the Congress leaders on the morning of 9 August 1942 following the Quit India Resolution and the World Wall II was coming to and end with the Allies firmly in control. Following Gandhiji's 21-day fast he took a decision that if India was declared free, it would voluntarily side with the British by extending full support to the war effort. The second was at making fresh attempts to meet Jinnah to come to an understanding with the Muslim League. He writes "It was largely due to Gandhiji's acts of omission and commission that Jinnah regained his importance in Indian political life. In fact, it is doubtful if Jinnah could have achieved supremacy, but for Gandhi's attitude."  

After Azad stepped down from his Congress presidentship in 1946, he said later that he'd have preferred Vallabhai Patel as successor, but under intense pressure had to choose Nehru. He frankly concedes, "That was, perhaps, the greatest blunder of my political life... (had Patel been chosen) he would have seen to it that the Cabinet Mission was successfully implemented... he would have never committed the mistake of Jawaharlal which gave Jinnah the opportunity to sabotage the Plan... I cannot forgive myself when I think that if I had not committed the mistakes of the history of the last ten years would have been different." It indeed would have made a world of difference to India's history-no Partition and massacre of both Hindus and Muslims, no Pakistan, no wars, no cross-border terrorism and 26/11s.

Azad also recounts in detail the errors committed by everyone and all that smack of blatant hypocrisy. As Congress president Azad, in 1940, had declared that if India's political problem was to be solved it should not only join the war of its own free will but would also adopt conscription and send every able young man to the war front. No one heard him then. He believed that had this happened the duration of the war would have shortened and rendered British morally indebted and the Muslim League and Jinnah could have been totally sidelined and the disastrous consequences-no Partition. Unfortunately for India his advice was disregarded!

Azad takes us into the times, mindsets and the outcomes of the contradictory stands taken by his illustrious contemporaries like MN Roy, Gandhi, Patel, the Nehrus-Motilal and Jawaharlal, CR Das, Rajaji and Subhas Chandra Bose. Of his friend Nehru, he says was prone to talk in his sleep "carrying on a debate, sometimes muttering and sometimes talking loudly...  indicating how much strain under which Nehru was working."

As one who has also read earlier volume I find this one much more alive. His views on the Muslim League and Jinnah-disapproval of Gandhiji conferring the title Qaid-e-Azam on  him and letting the League have the finance portfolio just because Patel wanted Home, makes us admire a afresh the honesty and courage of this son of India who has been largely ignored by our historians. This book is a must read for those really want to know of Indian Freedom Movement in the context of contemporary Indian history.    

(Nagesh Kini is a Mumbai based Chartered accountant turned activist.)




5 years ago

really good review Mr. Kini. History is always interesting read....

Ratanlal Purohit

5 years ago

Dear Mr Kini,


Nagesh Kini

In Reply to Ratanlal Purohit 5 years ago

This book states in so many words that the egos of Gandhi,Jinnah, Nehru and Patel simply failed to see reason and hear the Maulana.
The British can no longer be blamed for the "Divide and Rule" it was a myth created by the Congress. History will bear it out.


In Reply to Nagesh Kini 5 years ago

Nice take. Always blame some Indians for whatever wrong happened. 'British morally indebted'! Since when have colonizers/ slavers ever shown the slightest morality? It is impossible to find a single thing Brits did in India out of love or common decency: the royal decree was clear. Everything was to be paid for in Indian blood and any money/profit was to be shipped out.

Like some expats today who command high prices: any profit is from my cleverness. Any failure is because of those terrible/lazy/communal Indians, especially Hindus, especially Brahmins?! It served the British, (whom the Church served) to tar them.

4 mill Bengalis starved because of Churchill's war. Another 4+ mill were killed in the war. Commodities were taken from India to support UK's conquests, leaving India poorer and poorer.

History will certainly NOT bear this 'myth' out, that Indians divided the country. Also terribly easy to say what should have been done, years later, and in free country with access to information.

Why is to so easy for Indians to believe anything written against them? Colonial English mission schools have done a good job? Even when media is so suspect?

nagesh kini

In Reply to bharati 5 years ago

Neither the book nor the review is any attempt to belittle our people but only to point out the role that some of our leaders played in the bringing about the partition and its consequences.
Internationally today people of Indian origin are to be large numbers the world over and the days of 'expats who command high prices' are gone. The use of 'those terrible/lazy/communal, Indians, especially Hindus, especially Brahmins' is certainly uncalled for.
Bharatiji, you need to withdraw this nasty comment!

Public Interest Exclusive
Political donations flagged as potential fraud in the US

A woman in upstate New York is surprised to find a contribution to the Wisconsin governor's campaign on her credit card

When MaryAnn Nellis tried to pay for groceries on April 14, her credit card was declined. Later, she said, she found out why: Her credit card company, Capital One, had flagged an earlier purchase as potentially fraudulent. The problem? A $5 donation to Friends of Scott Walker, the Wisconsin governor's campaign committee, Nellis said.

Nellis told a Capital One representative she had not made the donation to Walker, who is fighting an effort to recall him as governor in a closely watched, expensive election set for June 5.

"Over my dead body," said Nellis, a potter and retired teacher in upstate New York who describes herself as "adamantly angry and upset" at Republicans such as Walker. Nellis disputed the charge and she was issued a new card.

Though the amount of money was small, ProPublica decided Nellis' complaint was worth following up. There have been other reports recently about insecure campaign-donation websites and the potential for fraud. Earlier this month, The Washington Times reported that Restore Our Future, the super PAC supporting Republican Mitt Romney, was using a collection system that madeonline donors' credit card information accessible to even amateur snoopers.

At ProPublica's request, Nellis called Capital One and asked a representative about the $5 charge to Friends of Scott Walker.

"She told me that they watch for fraudulent merchants who will put through a bunch of charges that are not legitimate," Nellis said. "I said, 'The fraudulent merchant here was Friends of Scott Walker, right?' And she said, 'Yes.' They had a little flag on any Scott Walker activity."

As an experiment, a ProPublica employee also made a $5 donation to Friends of Scott Walker on her Capital One card on May 10. Almost immediately, Walker's campaign sent an email thanking her. Less than a minute after that, Capital One emailed a fraud protection alert, saying the company "noticed potentially suspicious activity" on her account and asking her to call fraud protection as soon as possible.

When she inquired, a Capital One representative said the donation wasn't in line with her spending pattern and "our fraud department had some potential fraud concerns on the account."

Another $5 donation, made to Walker's opponent on the Capital One card, was not flagged as potentially fraudulent. Neither was a $5 donation to Friends of Scott Walker made on an American Express card. (The employee is seeking refunds of all three donations.)

We called Friends of Scott Walker and eZcontribution, the Wisconsin company that runs the website handling donations for Walker's campaign, for an explanation, but no one would answer our questions.

Walker's campaign spokeswoman, Ciara Matthews, emailed ProPublica on May 10 under the subject line of "follow up."

"I received a message about the story you are doing," she wrote. "The campaign does not comment on internal matters."

"How about allegations of credit-card fraud?" we wrote back. "That's hardly internal, it's external."

Matthews did not reply.

Ultimately, all we can say at this point is that Capital One appears to be flagging donations to Friends of Scott Walker as potentially fraudulent.



As the Nifty bounces from close to the support of 4,768, a temporary respite may be seen

The beginning of this week as well as that of next week is likely to be volatile as the bulls try to stem the rot and the bears try to consolidate their position further

S&P Nifty close: 4,891

Market Trend

Short Term: Down        Medium Term: Down            Long Term: Down

The Nifty opened flat, and after a pause, continued its decline as it sliced through the S1 level of the week (4,848) and almost went and hit the S2 level pegged at 4,768 points, as was envisaged in the last week's piece. From very close to this level the Nifty recovered smartly, on the last trading day of the week, on some bottom-fishing as well as short-covering to close with a marginal loss of 37 points (-0.76%). Volumes were, however, significantly lower as the Nifty ended marginally below the trendline (lavender) depicted on the weekly chart.

The sectoral indices which outperformed were CNX FMCG (+1.41%), CNX Pharma (+1.03%), CNX PSU Bank (+0.91%) and CNX IT (+0.59%) while the gross underperformers were CNX Auto (-5.33%), CNX PSE (-1.54%) and CNX Media (-1.18%).  The weekly histogram MACD continued to move further below the median line indicating that the bears are now having a stranglehold on the markets.

Here are some key levels to watch out for this week

  • As long as the S&P Nifty stays above 4,879 points (pivot) the bulls can breathe at bit easy as the bears might have become a bit exhausted after the relentless hammering of the last four weeks.
  • Support levels in declines are pegged at 4,801 and 4,711 points.
  •  Resistance levels on the upside are pegged at 4,969 and 5,047 points.

Some Observations
1.    The Nifty is facing stiff resistance in the 5,135-5,185 area which has to be     taken out in close for the bulls to be shaken.

2.    Weekly averages turned negative implying that the bears have increased their grip on the market and immediate bottlenecks are pegged at 4,969, 5,047 and 5,110 (optimistic scenario) this week.

3.    For a very short term reversal, the previous week's high (4,957 points) has to be crossed in close, otherwise the bears continue to rule the roost.

The bear domination continued and the recovery on Friday saw the Nifty make a 'hammer' (on the weeklies, though not a classical one), raising hopes of some respite from the bear onslaught. We also saw the Nifty almost touch the 78.6% retracement (4,768) of the rise from 4,531-5,629 points and the weekly indicators just venturing into oversold territory. All these point towards the likelihood of a small corrective rise taking place (though it will move up in fits and bursts and sailing would not at all be smooth). One should therefore cut shorts in any dips and wait for rallies close to the above mentioned resistance level before taking a fresh view of initiating shorts. For the purists the trend is firmly down (selling near retracement levels is the best option) and is not going to change in a hurry even though a small corrective bounce is likely. The beginning of this week as well as that of next week is likely to be volatile as the bulls try to stem the rot and the bears try to consolidate their position further.

(Vidur Pendharkar works as a consultant technical analyst & chief strategist at


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