Publish with us

Follow Penguin

Follow Penguinsters

Follow Hind Pocket Books

Sadguru Patil and Mayabhushan Nagvenkar answer questions on the life of Manohar Parrikar and the process of writing a biography

Over the last two decades, the exploits of one man, an IIT-Bombay alumnus, changed the way mainstream India looked at Goa and the political goings-on in the country’s smallest state. An Extraordinary Life traces the life and times of Manohar Parrikar through the informed voices of his relatives, friends, foes, bureaucrats and IIT contemporaries. The daily battles of a gifted individual are brought to the fore as he encounters love and vices. But more importantly, it showcases his rise in politics from the son of a grocery store owner in a nondescript town, a sanghachalak in Mapusa town, an Opposition MLA and leader, to a chief minister (on multiple occasions) and, finally, to a defence minister.

Read below an interview with the authors:

 


 

Writing a biography needs an author to write without bias. How difficult is that and how did you make sure of it?
The battle with bias is a constant one. A biography is less about relaying everything about a person’s life. It involves a process of curating a selection of events, personality traits and portrayal of relationships, so as to convey an account of one’s life, which is as accurate as it can get. The key is of course getting the selection right. It’s like a well curated menu, which has the right balance of hors d’oeuvres, main courses and desserts. You simply can’t make do with desserts alone. 

 

Could you share a moment while writing this book which made you pause in awe of Manohar Parrikar’s life?
The account in the book narrated by a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh functionary Ratnakar Lele. He talks about a young Parrikar drawing water from a well when everyone else was asleep, using a coir-rope tackle and a pitcher for four hours from 11 pm to 3 am, because an electric water pump malfunctioned at an RSS camp attended by hundreds of swayamsevaks.  After he was told about Parrikar’s feat, Lele even checked the calluses on his swayamsevak’s palms to verify the story. 

 

To make sure you cover all angles while writing biography involves extensive research; could you share with us the research process?
Manohar Parrikar as a subject wasn’t a new one for us. As journalists we had covered developments involving him and the BJP extensively for our respective media publications. There was a blind spot though; his family. We laid a lot of emphasis to weave his family, including all his siblings and children, into the biography’s narrative. Their stories helped add fresh facets of his personality and familial relationships which were rarely discussed before, to the manuscript. 
The discipline of research involved meeting up with Sadguru and drawing up multiple questionnaires for resource persons we had identified. The questionnaires would be constantly updated ahead of second, third visits. Sadguru did a bulk of the information-gathering for the biography. Every time we met, we would discuss the day’s draft which needed to be written which was my responsibility. This research was complimented with both short and long deadlines to complete the daily quota of writing and for finalising individual chapters and eventually the manuscript. 

 

Do you have any advice for writers wanting to delve into the biography genre?
If you are diligent enough, the obvious won’t be missed. But one still has to look for the scattered pearls. And sometimes, you need to know which oyster to shuck open to get to that missing pearl. 

 

The life of a politician involves tremendous sacrifice; which one incident from Manohar Parrikar’s life did you think made him rethink how to balance work and personal life?
Just to set the context right, the word ‘sacrifice’ tends to read with a positive overtone. Something about it does not seem to be in harmony with the word ‘politics’, the way we see it in India in general. As far as Parrikar’s life goes, there appeared to be an imbalance between his family life and his political mission. The latter seems to have overwhelmed his time, leaving little for the former. But there is one incident, where Parrikar, who was rarely known to indulge own sons when they were young, made time during an official trip as Defence Minister to China, to buy a toy excavator and a truck from a shopping mall, for his grandson Dhruv. 

 

Do you think there should be more representation of youth in positions of power?
For the sheer need to break the status quo of stagnant political thought, yes. 

 

 You’ve covered politics extensively over the past years; any suggestions for people of this generation who wish to join politics?
If you are looking for tips from writers vis a vis joining politics, then maybe you don’t have it in you to make it there. If you feel you are cut out for it, just take the plunge. You will either learn to swim or be cast ashore by the tide. 


 

Get your copy of An Extraordinary Life here

An Introduction to Pashtoon Society

John Butt came to Swat in 1970 as a young man in search of an education he couldn’t get from his birthplace in England. He travels around the region, first only with friends from his home country, but as he befriends the locals and starts to learn about their culture and life, he soon finds his heart turning irrevocably Pashtoon.

He wrote about his experience in his book, A Talib’s Tale. What did he learn about the society while living in Swat?

Read on to find out:

Women are linked to honour

The most important thing for a Pashtoon is his honour. And that honour is inextricably tied to her honour: the honour of Pashtoon womenfolk.

Hippies are liked by some, disliked by some

The government disliked hippies, especially impoverished vagrants like myself. The population at large loved them, since they adopted their lifestyle…stayed in their hotels, even though they did not have much money to spend.

Rumours are pretty credible in Pashtoon society

In Pashtoon society, rumour has more credibility than confirmed truth.

The fall of Amanullah Khan in 1929 was a watershed moment

 Ever since then[the fall], the harmony between the forces of Pashtoonwali and Islam has been upset; the balance between progressive and conservative forces of Pashtoon society battered.

The progressive had no time for jihad

The progressive, nationalist, secular Pashtoon forces had no time for jihad. In fact, they were sympathetic to the socialist government in Afghanistan and even had a soft spot for their Soviet backers, against whom jihad was being conducted.

Women were able to take more risks in society

Women are able to act with a lot more impunity than men in Pashtoon society.

There’s a need to heal the rift between the different sections

If there is one lesson I have learnt from the lifetime I have spent amongst the Pashtoons, it is that the key to Pashtoons living at peace with themselves is to heal this rift between progressives and conservatives—the secular and religious elements of Pashtoon society—that bedevils their public life.


A Talib’s Tale –The Life and Times of a Pashtoon Englishman is available now (also as an e-book)!

The Yogini- An Excerpt

With her days split between a passionate marriage and a high-octane television studio job, Homi is a thoroughly modern young woman-until one day she is approached by a yogi on the street. This mysterious figure begins to follow her everywhere, visible only to Homi, who finds him both frightening and inexplicably arousing.

Read an excerpt from The Yogini below:

 

It was late into the inflated night when she returned to her senses for the first time. She found herself standing by the door of a train compartment, holding the handles and swaying with the train as it hurtled along. Her body lurched alarmingly from side to side. She was leaning forward perilously. She would fall out of the train at any moment.

 

Was it time, then? she wondered. Was this how she and her fate were to be separated? Was this, finally,what fate had written for her?

 

The tracks seemed to howl fiercely at her when she looked down. Sparks flew from the friction of steel against steel. All she had to do was loosen her hold for everything to end.

 

Rattling a thousand chains, her soul cried out, Freedom! Freedom!

 

And she decided to jump. But then someone gripped her elbow. She didn’t turn around. There was no need to, for she knew who it was. She could see the hand clamped on her arm – the wrist encircled by rosary beads. A copper band, an iron chain, a red thread, chunky amulets. He scavenged for all sorts of things to slip around his wrist. Mounds of grime were gathered beneath his long nails. She raised her eyes to look – not behind her, but ahead. There was no beginning, no end, only a train passing through an endless expanse. No artificial lights shone now – the world beyond was lit generously by the moon, its beams crystallised in pools of water in the fields, the light magnified a million times by the reflections. The train raced through a silvery kingdom. Her heart was disproportionately heavy – but she no longer had cause to be sad or angry.

 

An icy current whispered in her ear, ‘Homi! Homi! Empress?’

 

‘Come closer, Empress.’

 

How much closer, man with the matted locks? Haven’t I already given you the right to claim me? So many thoughts flow through my head, but not one of them will lead to anything tangible. Not one will leave a physical imprint on the planet. Such notions, only some of which I embrace. I let go of the rest, to ensure that you have no power over me – neither over the causes of things happening to me, nor over their effects. Not even over the merging of cause and effect, because both are mechanical in my life, just as you are, an automaton. This is my final observation about existence. There is no such thing as free will here. No fundamental independence. I have long accepted that I have a natural fate in this world, a human being’s fate. I am no one, fate is everything. You are everything. This way, I can be closer to you too, can’t I?

These thoughts ran through her head, but she wished, too, to escape, to be free. A strange force took hold of her. She jerked her arm out of his grasp, and, the very next moment, whirled around to strike at the figure with the matted locks. With all her strength she lashed out at him, hoping that the impact would throw him off the train.


Following the inexorable pull of tradition, the mystic forces that run beneath the shallow surface of our modern existence like red earth beneath the pavements, The Yogini is AVAILABLE NOW!

 

The Science of Ahimsa- An Excerpt from ‘The Power of Nonviolent Resistance’

‘Where there is love there is life.’ – Gandhi

With the new year round the corner, take the time to read The Power of Nonviolent Resistance: Selected Writings , a specially curated collection of Gandhi’s writings on nonviolent resistance and activism.

Read an excerpt from the book below:

Toward the end of his life, Gandhi was asked by a friend to resume writing his autobiography and write a “treatise on the science of ahimsa.” What the friend wanted were accounts of Gandhi’s striving for truth and his quest for nonviolence, and since these were the two most significant forces that moved Gandhi, the friend wanted Gandhi’s exposition on the practice of truth and love and his philosophical understanding of both. Gandhi was not averse to writing about himself or his quest. He had written—moved by what he called Antaryami, the dweller within, his autobiography, An Autobiography or the Story of My Experiments with Truth. Even in February 1946 when this exchange occurred he was not philosophically opposed to writing about the self. However, he left the possibility of the actual act of writing to the will of God.

On the request for the treatise on the “science of ahimsa” he was categorical in his refusal. His unwillingness stemmed from two different grounds: one of inability and the other of impossibility.

He argued that as a person whose domain of work was action, it was beyond his powers to do so. “To write a treatise on the science of ahimsa is beyond my powers. I am not built for academic writings. Action is my domain, and what I understand, according to my lights, to be my duty, and what comes my way, I do. All my action is actuated by the spirit of service.” He suggested that anyone who had the capacity to systematize ahimsa into a science should do so, but added a proviso “if it lends itself to such treatment.” Gandhi went on to argue that a cohesive account of even his own striving for nonviolence, his numerous experiments with ahimsa both within the realms of the spiritual and the political, the personal and the collective, could be attempted only after his death, as anything done before that would be necessarily incomplete. Gandhi was prescient. He was to conduct the most vital and most moving experiment with ahimsa after this and he was to experience the deepest doubts about both the nature of nonviolence and its efficacy after this. With the violence in large parts of the Indian subcontinent from 1946 onward, Gandhi began to think deeply about the commitment of people and political parties to collective nonviolence. In December 1946 Gandhi made the riot-ravaged village of Sreerampore his home and then began a barefoot march through the villages of East Bengal.

This was not the impossibility that he alluded to. He believed that just as it was impossible for a human being to get a full grasp of truth (and of truth as God), it was equally impossible for humans to get a vision of ahimsa that was complete. He said: “If at all, it could only be written after my death. And even so let me give the warning that it would fail to give a complete exposition of ahimsa. No man has been able to describe God fully. The same hold true of ahimsa.”

Gandhi believed that just as it was given to him only to strive to have a glimpse of truth, he could only endeavor to soak his being in ahimsa and translate it in action.


The Power of Nonviolent Resistance: Selected Writings by Gandhi  gives context to the time of Gandhi’s writings while placing them firmly into the present-day political climate, inspiring a new generation of activists to follow the civil rights hero’s teachings and practices. The book is available now!

Meet Munir Khan and Mohini Singh from ‘A Delhi Obsession’

Two-time Giller Prize winner M.G. Vassanji returns with a powerful new novel, A Delhi Obsession about grief and second chances, tradition and rebellion, set in vibrant present-day Delhi.

Munir Khan, a recent widower from Toronto, meets the charming and witty Mohini Singh, a married liberal newspaper columnist, and what follows is a passionate love affair–uncontrollable yet impossible.

Read on to meet these two characters.

 

Munir Khan

Munir Khan was a puzzle. Such a floater. Without an anchor. But likeable… perhaps because of that?

Munir is a westernized agnostic of Muslim origin. He was born in Kenya and now, lives in Toronto. But he actually is an Indian (in a sort of way) who in reality, is ignorant about India. He lost his wife of many years in a car accident. A ‘mediocre’ writer by profession who had seen literary fame, he also has a daughter named Razia. He believes in a simple philosophy of living, in right and in wrong and respects all faiths. He likes history and enjoys finding out about the past. On a whim, to restore his family connections, he decides to visit India where he ends up meeting Mohini.

~

Mohini Singh

Smart, witty and liberal, that was her style.

Mohini is a modern Hindu woman. Utterly attractive and charming, she’s traditional and religious, but also a provocative newspaper columnist. She writes a weekly column for the daily paper the Express Times and teaches a course in English at a college twice a week. Her family were refugees from Sargodha, which became a part of Pakistan after the Partition. She had married early and has two daughters. She believes in prayer and turns to God for guidance. She usually look stunning in a saree and has a twinkle in her eye.

~

These two are from different worlds. To know more about them and their story, grab your copy of A Delhi Obsession today.

6 Very Delhi Things You Find in ‘A Delhi Obsession’

Set in contemporary times and effectively M.G. Vassanji’s most urgent novel yet, A Delhi Obsession follows the inexplicable attraction between recent widower Munir Khan and Mohini Singh, a married liberal newspaper columnist. Delhi’s streets, monuments and ruins become the setting of their passionate affair.

With the sights serving as an essential part of Vassanji’s storytelling, we list 6 very Delhi things you can expect to find in the book:

 

“[Munir and Mohini] had gone to see the fortress city of Tughlaqabad. Bahadur dropped her off at DRC. Mohini watched him drive off, out of sight, then she and Munir called for a taxi, which they hired for the day. Tughlaqabad was the most isolated and private it could get, but it was far from romantic. It was forbidding, haunted by its history.”

~

“At Siri the place was flooded with lights. Dust, cars hooting, the crowds. The bheed. The night air was thick and moist, a full moon was out. And hundreds of devoted fans filling the seats. The Mishra brothers began with a lovely thumri, a single-line love song to Krishna, repeated over and over in variations. Kya karun sajani, aaye na baalam . . . What to do, beloved, he doesn’t come . . . Then a couple of khayals. A bhajan by Meera. Paga ghungaru bandh . . . She wished he were there to share the music, for her to explain it to him.”

~

“A Narrative of the Last Days of Delhi

One terrible day bled into another following the death of our Sultan Alauddin by poison, and the three princes’ gory murders in Gwalior Fort. There was no end in sight to the naib’s evil machinations; now a Hindu was installed Sultan of Delhi and the descendants of maharajas strutted about its streets, energized by their polished new idols and charms. The future of Hindustan lay exposed and our own lives hung in the balance from day to day.

Such dark thoughts had returned to play upon my mind as I walked home one evening from a visit to my master Nizamuddin . . .”

~

“This time [Munir and Mohini] met at Khan Market. They did a casual round of the shops first. He bought a notebook, for which she paid, and he picked up the reading glasses he had ordered. Alphonso mangoes were just in season, displayed in fragrant heaps, and she bought a couple for him to eat that evening.”

~

“[Munir] visited by taxi the Qutub Minar, a lean and elegant tower of red sandstone in the south of the city, from where the first Turkish sultans had ruled, having defeated the local Rajput kings in the tenth century; and the Purana Qila, which was the site of the earliest city of Delhi, called Indraprastha, from the time of the epic Mahabharata.”

~

“Karim’s was one of a cluster of eating places nearby that all offered the same cuisine, kebabs and biryani occupying pride of place, releasing enticing aromas into the street. Of them, Karim’s had the distinction of having its entrance leading inside through a passageway to a counter.”


Written with trademark sensitivity and a sharp, affecting vision, A Delhi Obsession cuts close to the bone, and compels you to confront your profoundest dilemmas.

 

 

The Importance of Teaching your Child to be Grateful

Running out of bedtime stories to read to your kids?

Then worry not! Because Trishla Jain is here to save the night.

Research shows that narrating bedtime stories can be instrumental in building a child’s personality. These stories can help your kids understand important things in life and that too in an easy and consumable way.
Then why not use this bed time practice to teach your kids good values that will guide them throughout their lives? Why not use this practice to teach your kids how to say Merci, Arigato, Dhanyawaad so that they learn how to count their blessings and find reasons to be thankful?

Tankful of Thankful by Trishla Jain toots the magic of thanking each other in different languages-for the small things, for the grand things, for all things.

With adorable illustrations and verses, your young ones will start a beautiful conversation about living gratefully with you today!


Excerpt from book below:

 


Read Tankful of Thankful out loud to your children tonight!

Cuddle Up with These Books this Winter

This winter, set some time aside to read with your child. Feel Sai Baba’s all-pervasive presence, blessings and grace  and discover the wonders of wildlife in India. Take the time to solve puzzles that delve into the history, culture, food, festivals, wildlife and monuments of India as well!

Here is a list of all the books you can cuddle up with, this month:

Discover India: Wildlife of India

Mishki and Pushka can’t wait to get going. Daadu Dolma is taking them on a safari to see some of India’s famed wildlife.They’re about see rare animals like the Gangetic dolphin, meet endangered species like the Bengal tigers and one-horned rhinoceros!

With so many mountains, forests, water bodies, swamps and deserts, it’s no surprise that India has such amazing wildlife. So get set to join your favourite happy campers and their good old friend, Daadu Dolma and learn all about India’s incredible wildlife.

Discover India: India Activity Book

Mishki and Pushka have learned a lot about India. And now they’re ready to solve the puzzles, riddles and activities that Daadu Dolma has created specially for them.

Join them and take on the challenge of completing these activities on India’s history, its kings and queens, its festivals and monuments, its art and culture. There’s sure to be lots of fun along the way!

Amma, Take me to Shirdi

Join Amma and her boys as they travel to Shirdi, home to one of India’s most celebrated saints-Sai Baba. Hear the story of one of the most loved and revered mystics. Walk around the neem tree that gave him shelter. Relish a few moments in Dwarka Mai, the dilapidated mosque that became his home. Visit Dhuni Mai, the ever-burning fire Sai Baba had lit, and receive his blessings. Hear stories of the countless miracles he performed as you pay respects at the Shri Samadhi Temple, where he rests.

The Golden Eagle (Feather Tales)

Darkless

The Mindfulness Picture (Box Set)

Start a beautiful conversation on living purposefully with your young ones through four picture books that bring to life modern spirituality through simple words. While Tankful of Thankful will teach your child to understand the power of gratitude, Listen to the Whispers will let them reach for the stars with confidence and feel at one with the universe. Use Om the Gnome and the Chanting Comb to make them feel light and free and use Sunrise, Moonrise to understand the purpose of praying.

Puffin Classic: Tales from the Kathasaritsagara

Do you know the story of Phalabhuti, who narrowly escaped a grisly fate? Or of the kind-hearted Jimutavahana, who gave his life to save a snake from death? Or of young Shringabhuja, who married a rakshasa s daughter? These are just some of the many stories that make up Somadeva’s Kathasaritasagara. Abridged and wonderfully retold by Rohini Chowdhury, this is a great introduction for young readers to a fascinating work of classical Indian literature.

The Impact of the Panama Papers in India

The Panama Papers leak, which involved the leak of more than 11.5 million financial and legal records of ‘global’ law firm Mossack Fonseca based in Panama City, exposed corruption and tax evasion by politicians, celebrities and the elite who had stashed away wealth in secretive tax havens.

The leak not only shook the world but also made a case for a more equal society in an age of a widening rich–poor divide. The response from readers of the case and the government to the expose was overwhelming, and the agencies swung into action immediately.

Read on to know more about the untold India story of the trailblazing investigation.

The mother of all collaborations

The Panama Papers investigation was code-named ‘Project Prometheus’ after the character from Greek mythology who stole fire from the gods and gave it to human beings. Perhaps it was named so with the expectation that a huge fire would be kindled.

Prometheus would be the largest-ever leak in journalism history with 2.6 terabytes of data; the dump came from an anonymous source to reporters of Süddeutsche Zeitung, the secondlargest German daily; the leaked data was from a Panamanian law firm named Mossack Fonseca; there were many heads of state and corporate leaders in the leaked data that spanned four decades and was ‘live’ till early 2015.

 

Following the leads to discoveries and dead ends

Even as Ritu, Jay and Vaidy began digging into the India files, what actually helped them navigate the intriguing world of offshore business was access to the millions of files that were not necessarily related to India. Reading the internal mails revealed the level of compliance, rather the lack of it, observed by giant incorporators like Mossack Fonseca, the veils of secrecy they built and their eagerness to find a way out to cater to every demand put forth by a client, all for a fee.

Having accessed the leaked data, the three reporters had embarked on the search in the spirit of ‘feeling lucky’ and entered, wishfully, names from a list of public figures in business and politics. To their surprise, some of these searches immediately returned positive. Soon enough, though, dawned the first of many sobering realizations. It turned out that most of these hits were inconsequential.

Quite early in the deep dive, the reporters realized that the ICIJ’s secure servers were struggling to cope with the traffic generated by hundreds of diligent reporters logging in from all corners of the world. While the consortium had invested a lot of resources, the global collaboration was the first of its kind and in no way could one have anticipated the load till it became apparent.

To physically verify hundreds of addresses, the three reporters needed to utilize the reach of the formidable state network of the Indian Express. They broke down the address list state-wise. Typically, the client concentration was high in and around the metros and state capitals. Both Mumbai and Delhi checklists, for example, had over sixty addresses each. But there was enough fieldwork also to be done in the hinterland. Unfortunately, many addresses with only a name against a village or a PO (post office) returned nothing. Not surprisingly, most Indian villages have multiple individuals who respond to the same name, and it was impossible to pin down a client in the absence of additional details such as father’s name and so on.

 

The aftermath of the leak

The flutter was also evident among celebrity company owners who had figured in the list of 500-odd Indians named and also therefore in the India coverage. There were those who immediately wanted to wash their hands of the Mossack firms, others who rejigged their holdings and, surprisingly, even company owners who dug in their heels and increased their holdings despite their confidential offshore secrets having been outed.

The only persons to deny outright evidence of their offshore involvement found in the Panama Papers documents were Amitabh Bachchan and his daughter-in-law, Aishwarya Rai. While Rai’s media adviser tried to dismiss Ritu’s request for comments, Bachchan did not even bother to respond to repeated queries.

One measure of the impact of the Panama Papers was the excitement the investigation generated in the conference and seminar circuit. The ICIJ staffers as well as project members became sought-after speakers at events hosted across the world and this was true for the Indian team too. The model of collaborative journalism exhibited by the Panama Papers team and what the story meant for the future of journalism sans borders was the favourite topic of plenary sessions at several journalism talk shops.

The promptness with which the Indian government reacted resulted in the country joining others in formulating a global taxation response to the Panama Papers. It was a good signal and statement of intent that on 13 April—just a week after the exposé—when tax administrators from around thirty countries held a brainstorming meeting in Paris on the impact of the Panama Papers, a director-level officer from India’s CBDT was in attendance.

 


A month after the Panama Papers hit the stands and sent the global who’s who scrambling for cover, John Doe, the unnamed source of the leak, sent a stirring note to Süddeutsche Zeitung, the German newspaper. The short essay underlined why it is, now, time for real action and how that starts with asking questions.

Read The Panama Papers to know more about the untold Indian side of the story!

5 Interesting Facts About Explorers, Spies & Maps from the Nineteenth-Century

The Great Trigonometrical Survey of India was founded in the 18th century with the aim of creating a detailed map of the country. Under George Everest’s leadership, the Survey mapped the Great Arc, which was then lauded as ‘one of the greatest works in the whole history of science,’ though it cost more in monetary terms and human lives than many contemporary Indian wars.

Much of the work of the Survey was undertaken by explorers and native Indians known as Pundits, who were trained to spy out and map Central Asia and Tibet. They did this at great personal risk and with meagre resources, while traveling entirely on foot. Mapping the Great Game tells the story of these extraordinary pioneers-their exploits, their adventurous spirit and their tenacity in the face of great adversity

Read on to discover some interesting facts from the book:

 

Fact 1: A territory could only be acquired and governed when it was known

‘Maps would transform newly won territories- and finally the whole continent- from the unknown to the known. It was essential for British rule to acquire this knowledge for both military and administrative purposes, including the all- important task of collecting revenue.’ 

Fact 2: Afghanistan was the Door into India

‘From the time of Alexander, the Great, Afghanistan has been a staging post for invaders into India, crossing the Hindu Kush and swooping on to the hot plains of the Punjab. These mountains pose a formidable barrier. One interpretation of its name is ”Hindu killer”, as explained by the famous fourteenth- century Moroccan traveler Ibn Battuta, who wrote: ”Many of the slaves brought to us from India perish while crossing the high passes on account of the severe cold and great quantities of snow.” ‘ 

Fact 3: William Lambton and George Everest were the first and foremost cartographers that made mapping of India their life’s work

‘At the turn of the nineteenth century, an unusual proposal was put forward to the British authorities in India…The proposal set out to measure the shape of the earth, while intricately mapping India- a scientific project on a scale not previously attempted anywhere on the planet. The idea’s originator was William Lambton, and the venture he began would be completed one day by his successor George Everest.’ 

Fact 4: Under William Lambton’s leadership, the Great Trigonometrical Survey (GTS) had surveyed an area extending 165,000 square miles, his efforts formed the bedrock of the Survey of India

‘Author Showell Styles has pointed out how there was an element of ”greatness” about [William] Lambton, reflected by how others referred to the things he worked on: the Great Theodolite, the Great Arc and the Great Trigonometrical Survey. Yet today his name is largely forgotten, both in Britain and India. his efforts and accomplishments, though, which formed the bedrock of the GTS, live on through the work of the Survey of India. For many years, his name even appeared on its logo, and a commemorative bust sits today on St Thomas Mount, Chennai, looking out from where he launched his grand project. 

Fact 5: George Everest-a cantankerous old sahib-ensured that the Great Trigonometrical Survey (GTS) was as accurate as possible

‘With him [George Everest] at its helm, the GTS had surveyed 57,000 square miles of territory, at a final cost of nearly 90,000 pounds. Although this area was only a third of the total achieved under [William] Lambton’s stewardship, Everest’s survey is considered unsurpassed because of its superior quality. For example, to ensure the highest levels of accuracy, Everest made his triangles as symmetrical as possible. he achieved this by instituting a strict rule that internal angles be kept between 30 and 90 degrees, and preferably closer to 60 degrees. Furthermore, as much as Everest appreciated the size of Lambton’s large triangles, as a general rule, again in pursuit of accuracy, he favoured limiting each side to between 20 and 30 miles, even though this restriction would slow down the rate of advance of his survey.’

 


To know more about this thrilling story of espionage and cartography, grab your copy Mapping The Great Game today!