Saturday, December 03, 2005

The End of An Era: Kanaiyalal Munshi

The Nawab of Hyderabad decided in 1947 that he didn't want to join the Indian Union. He wanted to be independent and later perhaps join Pakistan. Munshi was appointed by Sardar Patel to be his man in Hyderabad.

The book, "The End of An Era" is a fascinating first person account by K.M. Munshi. Munshi sounds just a bit pompous, but he's probably quite modest - hard to tell. The book is an account of the fast-paced events that culminated in the Indian Union taking 'police action' (sending in the military) to take over Hyderabad. But it was more interesting for me since there were quite a few passing references to Gandhi, Patel, Nehru and others.

Folks like Munshi and others were all called 'Gandhian' but it's fascinating how many camps they were all divided in and how much infighting there was in Congress at the time. Sardar Patel and Munshi were in one camp. It sounded like a very 'Gujarati' camp - all of Munshi's friends and connections seemed Gujju. Munshi never mentions any of his or Patel's detractors by name but it seems they were a legion. Munshi had written several successful books including novels, historical accounts etc.

When the Indian military arrived in Hyderabad, there was a big law and order vacuum. But unlike Iraq, there seemed to have been a good plan for addressing the problem right away.

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