Eight pioneers of modern India, captured in eight monographs

The rains might have caused traffic snarls across Delhi but it was not a deterrent for the audience that assembled at the Seminar Hall at India International Centre on Friday for the launch of Pioneers of Modern India, a series of eight monographs published by Niyogi Books.

Dedicated to renowned personalities, it includes a monograph on cartoonist RK Laxman by EP Unny, Chief Political Cartoonist with The Indian Express; a work dedicated to nuclear physicist Homi Bhabha by astrophysicist Biman Nath; and an exploration into the life of freedom fighter Rani Gaidinliu by Som Kamei, a member of the Indian Postal Services.

A monograph on cartoonist RK Laxman by EP Unny is also included. (Express photo by Amit Mehra)

Moderated by Nirmal Kanti Bhattacharjee, the event had each of the eight authors discuss their work. “The moment of our independence on August 15, 1947 was not captured by Shankar, a veteran cartoonist. He had left Hindustan Times so was not at work,” said Unny, talking about RK Laxman: Back with a Punch. “It was Laxman, at just 26 years old, who did it with a cartoon of Nehru asking a weeping child to smile — that child symbolised India. Laxman knew India was troubled.”

(Express photo by Amit Mehra)

V R Devika, who has written Muthulakshmi Reddy: A Trailblazer in Surgery and Women’s Rights, spoke of how Reddy’s story should be known by every citizen because of her contributions to the Devadasi Abolition Act and achievements as the first woman in India to graduate in medicine in 1912.

H S Shivaprakash, co-author of Heisnam Sabitri: The Way of Thamoi, said: “Sabitri had no formal training. She went to no theatre school and said she learnt her craft doing her domestic chores, cooking and taking care of her children… She is a symbol of the indomitable power of women.”

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