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Review of Father Dearest by Neelima Damia Adhar

March 30, 2017

Review of Father Dearest by Neelima Damia Adhar
Reviewed by Fiza Pathan

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Father Dearest: The Life and Times of R. K. Dalmia, is one of the finest biographies I’ve read this year. I really felt it was a book well written and very insightful. I’ve always had an interest in contemporary Indian history, especially the history of India’s freedom movement and the aftermath, and even as a student I was impressed by R. K. Dalmia as a great financial, religious, and political personality of that era. The book has been artfully penned by R. K. Dalmia’s daughter, Neelima Dalmia Adhar, which describes her life as a daughter of the ‘once almost first finance minister’ of newly independent India, as well as the decisions that led to his almost non-existent mention in the annals of Indian history. She also describes the lives of the women he married, six women in all, and the eighteen children he begat through them. I as a history student, and now a teacher, had always assumed that R. K. Dalmia was just a religious business magnate of the early twentieth century India, but the biography Father Dearest has made me know R. K. Dalmia better than I had earlier presumed I knew. Neelima Dalmia Adhar has shown the readers of this non-fiction piece a side to the intertwining lives of so many people, whose focal point was a man who is presumed could have prevented the partition of the country India, into present day India and Pakistan. Through the pen of Dalmia’s daughter, we see a new side to Indian politics during those early years and about the psychology of a most revolutionary man devoted to orthodox Hinduism, yet who married and illtreated all the six women in his life. I love the way the biographer has narrated the history of the past Dalmia’s as well as the present. I was pleased to read about her mother, the sixth and last wife of R. K. Dalmia, the poet, Dineshnandini Dalmia, who was an extraordinary woman in her own right. The book is racy and simple to read unlike other more serious biographies and is only 304 pages. It is a great read for those interested in contemporary Indian politics, history, and the great personalities of that time like Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, etc., to name a few. I’ve personally enjoyed and have been enriched by this book. An intriguing and novel read indeed.

Copyright © 2017 Fiza Pathan

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