‘Be amazed. Be informed. Be proud. Above all, be inspired!’
The above line is aptly inscribed in the back page of Hachette India’s 2019 record book, Wow! India. Books like this are often written for the purpose of documenting and celebrating the remarkable features of a time period and place. Indeed, it is a Herculean task to find a time period or a place more interesting than present-day India, and so the publication of books such as this one is a thing to be grateful for. Covering everything from the media, to the scientific and technological objects of the nation, the book is all-encompassing, and serves to enlighten its readers as to the diversity and extent of India’s brilliance.
While the book is framed in small paragraphs, each alluding to a different record or fact, it does not compromise on its detail or educational quality. Providing dates, identities, special circumstances and more, it serves as an adequate supplement to understanding of the Indian existence.
It is perhaps more important now than ever before to release and publicize books that celebrate the history of India, with the emerging generation of millennials looking primarily to the West for its cultural influences. Western music, apparel, accents and slang, and cultural norms seem to be slowly replacing the sense of tradition and history that prevailed in the past. In my personal experience, reading a book like Wow! India reminded me of the vibrancy of the country. I regard the future of India with great optimism, more so after becoming aware of the several topics the book covers.
My sole criticism lies in the book allowing itself to become merely an assertion of facts. While the primary focus on the book may be to convey different records and events from the nation’s history, it should not prevent itself from also presenting the several failures of the country, in an attempt to inform the people, and inspire them to do and be better than has been the case in the past. For the book to celebrate the achievements of India in educational and governmental aspects, without at least acknowledging the many shortcomings of both of these departments is deception. Instead of telling readers about the ‘first museum of toilets’, it would be much more favourable for the book to discuss the failure to inculcate modern and sexual education, or end corruption and religious bias in the government. Only when this is done can the book be appreciated as a true chronicling of the nation.
Vir Bhatia is a Grade 11 student at The Doon School, Dehradun. An avid reader and writer, he is also fond of good music, football, and fun with friends.