Title: Rising:30 Women Who Changed India
Author: Kiran Manral
Publisher: Rupa Publications
Represented By: The Book Bakers Literary Agency
Price: Rs 395
No of Pages: 271
Link for Purchase: Rising:30 Women Who Changed India
This book comprises of biographies of thirty women who have distinguished themselves as luminaries in their respective fields in India. The author has chosen the personalities she has written about very carefully. She includes politicians, judges, singers, actors, sports persons, entrepreneurs, and women from several other fields. She begins the book with two very well-known politicians, namely Sushma Swaraj who has held several important portfolios in the government of India, and Shelia Dikshit who was chief minister of Delhi for three consecutive terms. As we read through the book we become increasingly aware of how difficult it is for women to shine in their chosen fields especially in a male-dominated patriarchal society like the one we have in India. It becomes obvious that most women have to break the glass ceiling and become trailblazers in the fields they have chosen. Many of them face failure in the beginning and it is only through consistent effort they become successful. The author includes actresses like Madhuri Dixit well known as the Dhak Dhak girl, mountaineer Bachchendri Pal, boxer Mary Kom, and the CEO of Biocon, Kiran Mazumdar Shah. The author has done a phenomenal amount of research about the women she has portrayed in the book. She has provided proper references for all the facts she has stated. The biographies have been written tastefully and we get a very good glimpse into the characters of these women. Their personalities have been portrayed in a very colourful and sensible way without getting controversial.
As the author mentions in the introduction to the book, it is difficult to condense a lifetime into a few thousand words. But she manages to do this very thing with aplomb. Wherever possible she has interviewed the person in question and that makes the biographies all the more interesting. In these interviews, we hear about the struggles the person had to go through and the difficulties they had to face, in their own words. Among the interviews presented, I enjoyed the one with the CEO of Biocon, Kiran Mazumdar Shaw the most. This book has plenty of lessons for aspiring young women. As we find out from the biographies, one of the most important qualities a young woman should possess when she begins a career is self-belief. Sometimes they have to believe in themselves to such an extent that they should have the courage to defy family. For example, in the case of Mary Kom, her father had explicitly told her not to train in boxing. He finds out that she had been doing so only when he finds her image splashed all across the newspapers when she wins a boxing event.
The author has managed to include women from all parts of the country. Since the author has a choice of only thirty women I guess she had to choose judiciously. Obviously, we can’t expect her to cater to everyone’s liking. For example, it is a close call between Madhuri Dixit and Sridevi. Lata Mangeshkar is an obvious choice. Between Sheila Dixit and Jayalalithaa I would have probably picked up Jayalalithaa, but then I have lived most of my adult life in Tamil Nadu and I am a Tamilian and probably biased. The choice of Shylaja Teacher is an excellent one and I really enjoyed reading about the way she handled the pandemic and the Nipah virus situations. There is just one last thing I would like to mention. Controversial issues have been dealt with very diplomatically, and as far as possible without hurting anyone’s sentiments. All in all, it is an excellent book. I enjoyed it thoroughly. I read the book over four days as obviously this book is not meant for binge reading.
Conclusion: A big Yay! This book gives us a very good look into what it takes to succeed in a career and reach the top, being a woman in India. It provides us a very good insight into the lives of several women who have been successful in diverse fields.
Rating: I am going with a 5/5 for Kiran Manral’s book. She has done an outstanding job of writing the biographies of 30 women and has given us a very good look into their careers and lives.
This review has been written as part of the Blogchatter Book Review Program