Subhadrika Sen looks into BBC Radio 4’s new Docu-Series Incarnations- India in 50 lives
Sunil Khilnani likes to describe himself as a storyteller as well as a traveller. His creative blend of mind coupled with his storytelling abilities and travelling experiences have culminated into the book Incarnations: India in 50 lives. The book deals with fifty great personalities who have shaped up India into the way it is looked upon today. From emperors to ascetics, to political leaders and contemporary artists; all find a place in the pages of his book.
With time, the influence of these great Indian leaders has left a profound impact on the society of India. Thus, not only has Khilnani dealt with these influential figures, but he has also significantly represented certain core themes attached to these names.
From ancient to modern history, India has been ruled by many rulers of different origins and religious sects. From the fierce Hindu Rajputs to Buddhist emperors; from the Islamic Mughal Empire to the British Christian Values, each of these empires has left an impact on Indian culture. Unique to the Indian society is the concept of caste system which is considered as a social evil. Even modern day society is entangled in the sins of the caste system.
One would find low representation of women with Indira Gandhi being one of the few women leaders who finds mention in the book. This also highlights the irregular gender representation occurring in the Indian society. Khilnani has also touched upon the freedom of expression issue, which certain authors, painters and creative persons have had to deal with in recent times.
Thus, Incarnations: India in 50 lives is a book highlighting the strength of the Indian culture and its deep rooted values in contemporary society, by showing an evolutionary journey of some of the most influential persona’s of this country.