Oct 142022
Review: The Vanguards of Azad Hind
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A must-read for anyone and everyone.

Title: The Vanguards of Azad Hind

Author: Gayathri Ponvannan

Publisher: Puffin (Penguin Random House India)

Format: Paperback

Pages: 256

Age: 12 years and above

Disclaimer: I am a die-hard fan of Subash Chandra Bose. If given a chance to interview a celebrity, spend a day with a leader, or be it any hypothetical question, it will always be him.

The Vanguards of Azad Hind by Gayathri Ponvannan is a brilliant book set in British India around 1943. Before we get into the actual review, it is pertinent that you understand how advanced we were back in 1943 and how modern Netaji’s thoughts were.

In 2019, Lieutenant Bhavana Kasturi became the first Indian woman officer to lead an all-male contingent at the Republic Day parade and that was spoken widely across all media. Did you know? The Azad Hind Fauj, also known as the Indian National Army was the fighting unit that Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose raised. In the year 1943, Netaji gave a widespread call for women to participate in the fight for Azad Hind within it was the Rani of Jhansi Regiment, an all-women infantry combat unit. This was the first of its kind.

~ Pulling on the reigns and directing myself to talk about the book now ~

This is a story of a 16-year-old girl named Kayal who is from a very disciplined family. She is a young freedom fighter who never misses a chance to be a part of the freedom struggle. She expresses her opinion and actively participates by joining the marches, burning foreign products, and sabotaging trains. The author vividly brings up all the struggles and how people jointly worked with patriotism so vividly with her simple yet striking words.

Kaya’s aunt Uma is a soldier in Subash Chandra Bose’s Azad Hind Fauj from Southeast Asia that tirelessly fought to free India from the clutches of the vicious Britishers. The story gains momentum the time Uma takes Kayal to a recruitment camp in Burma, now Myanmar. This stunning story is an ode to our forefathers who loved the country more than their own family and sacrificed their lives to ensure India gets freedom, especially to the all-women volunteer unit raised by the man himself.

This beautiful story about passionate trailblazers is a must-read for everyone. In fact, it should be part of academic reading to understand such great movements. However, the level is 12 years and above. Fantastic book to read up on pre-independent India especially to know about strong, independent, and determined women who fought hard for the freedom that we so carelessly enjoy.

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