Book Review: Being Gandhi

Author : Paro Anand
Publisher : HarperCollins Children’s Books

For years, Gandhi Jayanti has been an occasion of celebrating Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday by enjoying a day off, and watching politicians lay a wreath at his samadhi. For children too, it has been no different except that some schools do organise programmes on the life and times of the Mahatma. But how is Gandhi relevant to present times? Can we imbibe Gandhian way of thinking in our day-to-day life? Can we teach our children to live by following the Gandhian philosophy?

Paro Anand’s latest book, Being Gandhi, does just that. There’s no gyan about Gandhi, his life or teachings – instead, It’s about how a modern-day teenager discovers Gandhi within himself.

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The story revolves around a teenager, named Chandrashekhar who dislikes his life, including his name. He just wants to be left alone, undisturbed, but her teacher has other plans for her. Although she doesn’t think highly of him but is determined to bring a change in his attitude. She asks him to ‘Be Gandhi’ for a week.

The boy certainly finds the task torturous but can do nothing about it. While he is wondering how to behave in a Gandhian way for his assignment, life takes a completely different and ugly turn. Sikh riots take place and he loses his neighbours and friends in the same. The incident shatters him completely and unknowingly brings out the Gandhi in him. The transformation from a carefree teenager to the modern-day Gandhi is what the story is all about.

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The book raises some pertinent questions facing our society, forcing a reader to think and introspect; and also shows us how Gandhi’s way of thinking is relevant even today. It is a serious take on our society, written from the child’s perspective; and that’s what makes this story all the more readable. There is not even a single moment of boredness in the book. Read it not only for pure reading pleasure but also because it will change the way you have looked at Gandhi all these years!

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