Sunday, April 18, 2010

REVIEW: Operation Red Lotus

Tatya Tope's Operation Red Lotus 
Parag Tope
Rs 595
Pp 468
ISBN: 9788129115621

Tatya Tope's Operation Red Lotus is a quest to understand the real history of the Anglo-Indian War of 1857. A quest by the contemporary members of the Tope family, which led to the discovery of the dramatic battle manoeuvres of their ancestor, the legendary Tatya Tope, as well as the true import of the war.

1857 and all that TOI Crest 
Why would a book on a historical figure – a national hero in the first war of independence – not have a single photo of the man, except for a grainy sketch on the cover? "Because not a single photograph of Tatya Tope is available anywhere. The sketch is an artist's imagination and the only photograph taken by the British in April 1859 can't be real because Tatya had died in January 1859, three months before," says Parag Tope, who is descended from the freedom-fighter.

Parag's "Operation Red Lotus: Tatya and the Anglo-Indian war of 1857" has just been published. He is not a historian and does not claim to be one, but he believes Indian history is too serious a matter to be left to the British. "History is always written with an agenda," says the engineer and MBA who owns a company in San Francisco. Parag worked with five others to research his famous forebear in an attempt to bring out the "truth....We grew up hearing stories about Tatya's life and his bravery from old people in our family but we could not find any of this in history books."

Reverberations – 150 years later 2nd look
The 1857 war in India, is something that remained an enigma for the last 150 years. For “the public was at the time and for years to come saturated to an astonishing degree with lurid accounts of the uprising, which became the subject of countless sermons, novels, plays and poems, and about which more than eighty novels were written, six appearing in the “peak” year of 1896 alone”.

So, I too was vaguely thrilled to receive a draft copy of the Operation Red Lotus (Red Lotus) by Parag Tope, some 7 months ago. Over the next 2-3 weeks, I went through the book. The first time with more enthusiasm than objectivity. Then came the time to take a 2ndlook look.

This book was an interesting experience. For one it represents yet another attempt to clean up Indian history of colonial detritus.

No comments:

Post a Comment