Book Review: Fractured Freedom

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Book Title: Fractured Freedom: A Prison Memoir

Author: Kobad Ghandy

Format: Kindle

Published By: Roli Books

ASIN & Edition: B08XVZGCY8 & First

Genre: Memoir – Non-fiction

No.of pages: 316

Rating: 5/5

About the Book:

Kobad Ghandy’s memoir book, Fractured Freedom, published by Roli Books, recollects his life as a young communist activist and turns into a detailed account of what it is like to be an under-trial in India. The book in detail gives an idea of how his life turned upside down and what are the hardships he faced.

Fractured Freedom A Prison Memoir Book Cover
Fractured Freedom: A Prison Memoir Book Cover

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About the Author:

Chemistry from Mumbai in 1968 he went to London to qualify as a Chartered Accountant. However, the oppression and racism he experienced in the UK led him to get involved in left activism (mostly communist/Maoist groups) to assert the self-respect of Indians within British society. During a particular protest, he was arrested and beaten by the police amidst racist abuse.

The subsequent sentence and three months in jail in London changed the course of his life. He abandoned his plans of becoming a chartered accountant and decided to return to India in 1972 to dedicate his life to working with the downtrodden of the country.

Soon after returning to Mumbai, Ghandy ‘declassed himself’ and joined the Progressive Youth Movement (PROYOM) group and it was here that he first met Anuradha, his future wife. They both actively participated in Dalit, working-class, and youth activities.

After the Emergency was lifted in 1977, they helped form and worked in the civil liberties movement before moving to Nagpur in 1982 where they lived for almost two decades.

In Nagpur, they chose to live in the Dalit Basti, Indora, fighting battles at the forefront of various movements – for students, civil rights, women, workers, and Adivasis. Ghandy was arrested in September 2009 and spent over a decade in various Indian prisons before being released in October 2019

Book Review:

The books that are born out of experience always are worth a treasure. They show life and real things. Fractured Freedom by Kobad Ghandy is one such book. Kobad Ghandy was born into a well-off family. He did his schooling at the famous Doon School, and after completing his college education from St. Xavier College, Mumbai, he went to the UK to do his CA.

Unfortunately, he was a victim of racism that was the most prevalent in the 1970s in Europe. He wanted to know the causes of racial discrimination and read extensively on Indian’s colonial legacy from the books by BC Dutt, Dadabhai Naoroji, and others at the British Museum Library. He realized the socio-political issues that complemented colonial rule.

The first part of the book deals with the transformation of an upper-class, Parsi young man, educated in Doon School and later in England, to a committed activist dedicated to social and political revolution. The book moves forward into time. His courtship with his wife and her role in his growth as an activist is fascinating to read. There are mentions vaguely of his role as a political activist.

On returning from London, with a world-view inspired by Marxism, his incubation into a left-wing youth organization linked with the Janashakti faction of the Maoists is also explained.

The later part of the book Fractured Freedom is the authentic prison memoir. Here the brutality and the pathetic conditions of Indian Jails, the political conflicts whose shadows affect the prisoners, and his friendship with many other known people who were in prison for socio-political reasons again are well articulated. This book must be read with an empathetic mind rather than a biased mind.

This statement holds good here because the mere mention of Afzal Guru might prick some flames of hatred. Thus, the book is recommended to only those readers who have a mature mindset. Overall, this is one of the straightforward, plain, and honest books!

Pick it if:

You like gritty memoirs
You want to understand the prisoner life inside an Indian Jail

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