‘Rising: 30 Women Who Changed India’ by Kiran Manral tells the stories of 30 successful women from various facets of public life, be it politics, governance, cinema, performing arts, business, sports, writing, scientific arena, or royalty. Indeed, the book is an inspirational compilation of 30 stories, more specifically 30 personalities who define women empowerment and are symbolic of feminism in India in many ways.
I have read Kiran Manral’s work of fiction previously but this one is a first in the non-fiction genre. The title got me excited, and I looked forward to the stories of 30 inspiring Indian women in the book. I liked Kiran Manral’s writing earlier and here again, she had me with an engaging and lucid narration. I was glad that she treaded on the balanced path of not getting overwhelmingly patronizing or going on the other end of the spectrum by dissecting the personalities’ trajectory.
Each personality covered in the ‘Rising: 30 Women Who Changed India’ has a story to tell, their struggle, and their contribution towards breaking the patriarchal shackles. Some stories interested me more and I wanted to delve deeper but considering the format of the book, I understand the constraints.
Before picking up this book, a question came to my mind – would I really like reading this book in the day and age of the internet? Well, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. It is more refreshing to read about personalities, compiled with careful research, cohesive information, and interesting anecdotes. And on certain occasions, reading personal interviews come as a bonus.
Short crisp chapters about each personality summarise their beginning, turnarounds, and their achievements. The eloquent writing makes the shorter passages brimming with emotions and the research in each chapter shows.
‘Rising: 30 Women Who Changed India’ includes two of my favourite women politicians of all times, Sushma Swaraj and Sheila Dikshit. It is indeed nostalgic to read about such stateswomen who grew in stature with their work during our lifetime.
Whether they show us the path or not, there is always something novel about reading a famous personality’s journey. Reading this book worked in many ways, as I was led to discover more about brewing courses and enzyme extraction after the chapter on Kiran Mazumdar Shaw.
However, my favourite personality from this collection is Anita Desai, the renowned Indian author. It is for personalities such as her who are away from the limelight that we ought to read books about them. I was also thrilled to read about Shailaja K.K., Tessy Thomas, and Hima Das.
And then certain personalities have been household names and yet so little is known about them like M.S.Subbulakshmi. Or the personalities lost to popular pop culture like Harita Kaur Deol, the first woman pilot to fly solo in the Indian Air Force.
The biggest appeal of this book is in the wide array of women personalities it covers from the enigmatic dancer Sonal Mansingh to the first woman to climb Mt Everest, Bachendri Pal. Of course, there are certain predictable names that have been celebrated since long. A couple of chapters may motivate you to watch the biopics made on the said personalities (or to go for a watch again mode)!
‘Rising: 30 Women Who Changed India’ gets you to emotionally invest in the stories with interesting anecdotes and personal interviews. Surely an amazingly evocative compilation of great personalities and their stories.
“And to all my readers, I hope you get from this book the sense of awe and wonder that I did while researching it. Stories of women we know, some women we’ve grown up hearing about, some women who are no longer in our midst, but all women who, through their lives, have become shining examples of fortitude and courage, regardless of whatever life, society and misogyny put in their paths.”– Kiran Manral
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About the Author
Kiran Manral is a writer, author and novelist based in Mumbai. Her fiction titles include The Reluctant Detective, Once Upon a Crush, All Aboard!, Saving Maya, Missing: Presumed Dead, The Face at the Window, The Kitty Party Murder and More Things in Heaven and Earth. In the non-fiction category, her works include Karmic Kids, True Love Stories, A Boy’s Guide to Growing Up, 13 Steps to Bloody Good Parenting, Raising Kids with Hope and Wonder in Times of a Pandemic and Climate Change.
In previous avatars, she has been a journalist, researcher, festival curator and entrepreneur. She has received multiple awards, such as the Women Achievers Award by Young Environmentalists Association in 2013 and the International Women’s Day Award 2018 from ICUNR (the Indian Council of UN Relations) supported by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India, for excellence in the field of writing.
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