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Of Dreams and Demons: A Memoir of Modern India (Kodansha globe series) Paperback – June, 1995

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Singh's unique account of India's six-decade-long transformation from British colony to the world's largest democracy alternates vividly painted personal memoir with penetrating analysis of that nation's deeply complicated political, cultural and religious life. A well-known Indian writer and essayist and founder of India's first magazine on design, art and architecture, Singh has moved in India's artistic, political and intellectual inner circles since the 1950s. His passion for architecture and city planning brings an odd but intriguing mixture of aesthetic values and social activism to his political perspective, such as when he parallels the decline of India's cities- through reckless development and attendant overpopulation, disease and poverty-with the decline of the country as a whole. He traces the responsibility to a post-partition political apparatus he believes to be endemically corrupt, supplementing his concise analysis with personal experiences of Nehru's government; the momentous rise, corruption and assassination of Indira Gandhi (who sought Singh's political counsel on several occasions); and the increase in religious fundamentalism (Singh's own religion, Sikhism, occupies a precarious position in a country violently rift between Hindu and Muslim). He is refreshingly candid about his swings between political idealism and pessimism. But it is his emotional rendering of Delhi's tragic disintegration-from the gracious, elegant city of Singh's childhood in the 1930s to the urban nightmare it is today-that perhaps makes the deepest impression.

Copyright 1995 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Singh, a publisher of architectural journals and a political writer, cleverly constructs a personal memoir within the political history of India from the 1930s to the 1990s. By juxtaposing his vision of environmentally sensitive urban growth with the corrupt practices, spineless leadership, and religious intolerance of modern India, he shows us a country possessed of little hope for the future. Singh presents the period through the Fifties as a time of hope and industry in both his personal life and that of India. In contrast, the 1960s through 1990s are described as a plunge into the abyss under the leadership of Indira Gandhi, her son Rajiv, and P.V. Narasinha Rao. As a Sikh, he condemns the attack on the Golden Temple at Amritsar, the Sikh assassination of Indira Gandhi, and the subsequent police-sanctioned butchery of Sikhs in New Delhi. Despite Singh's desire to see points of light, his unambiguous description of the Bharatiya Janta Party as inspired by Nazi Germany and in constant attack on freedom of expression and on the right to life and property bodes disaster for India. A sobering account that is recommended for general readers.
John F. Riddick, Central Michigan Univ. Lib., Mt. Pleasant
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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