My fortnightly letter to you today will be a brief one, but I am attaching to it a note which is for the present incom¬plete. I may add to it later. It represents really some kind of loud thinking on my part and an attempt to clarify my own mind. I am venturing to share this with you.
A remarkable series of letters written in the pleasanter vein of fiction rather than of history, interspersed with intimate personal touches here and there, and giving glimpses of the growth of the world from ages past, down to the days of Napoleon, setting out the results of intro¬spection as much as of study forced by physical inactivity when inside a prison, is this book of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru which presents history not as a mere piling up of names and events, but as a helpful guide in determining the Time-spirit of days gone by as well as of the present.
Which is the best place to look for systematically organized, comprehensive research material on the persisting ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka? India? No; Sri Lanka? No. It is, surprisingly, Oslo, which has no more than a tiny Tamil population of 8000. This is because of an important data base project undertaken by the Inter¬national Peace Research Institute of Oslo under the competent and committed gui¬dance of Dr. Kumar Rupesinghe, a well known Sri Lankan socially active scholar.
Anyone who has had the joy of reading the first two volumes in this series is bound to be impatient to go through the other two, now available, which cover a crucial five-year period from June 1952 to November 1957. Those who have, for whatever reasons, not read these once-secret letters, written at least once a fort¬night, would never know what a pleasure they have deprived themselves of.
This is a deeply absorbing book, but not perhaps as intended. The corres¬pondence is between two persons both of whom evoke much interest in this country. Attention is sought to be focused on Indira Gandhi, to show the influences which moulded her in her youth and how by the age of 22 she is said to have come into her own. But there is nothing in these letters to hint even faintly at the splitter of Pakistan and the imposer of the Emergency.