|Politicians & Literature|
Najma Heptullah | 73 | Madhya Pradesh
Rajya Sabha MP, BJP
AS A WOMAN, the book that has influenced me the most is Dreams of Trespass: Tales of a Harem Girlhood. The author, Fatima Mernissi, left a lasting impression on me. The beauty of the book is that it doesn’t go into the details or the history of the harem. Instead, the book deals with the limits set on women by our society. It presents these restrictions in the subtlest manner possible. As a child, a girl is confined to her mother’s lap; in her adolescence, she is bound to her room; her youth is restricted to her parents’s house; and after marriage, the threshold set by her husband limits her. The book brings out the different boundaries and internal conflicts that women face. Although, authors and poets never overwhelm me, I was so impressed with Mernissi that I couldn’t stop myself from meeting her.
I try reading on different subjects. I recently finished reading My Name Is Red by Orhan Pamuk. Nothing compares to the way miniature paintings are described in the book. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson is also rather persuasive.
I grew up reading Maulana sahib’s books. (Heptullah is Maulana Abul Kalam’s niece) Words cannot capture the brilliance of his India Wins Freedom and Ghubar-e-Khatir. As a child, there were books that I was advised, given, and sometimes forbidden to read. But I always sneaked out with books, and read them in the bathroom, the park or my hostel. Later, I started enjoying biographies. I believe that everyone should read biographies. There is a lesson for everyone in them. One such book is Barack Obama’s Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance.
As a politician, I find that reading is essential to be updated with the problems of the contemporary world. I always advise new faces who enter politics to read the likes of Gandhi, Nehru, Maulana Azad and other freedom fighters. They show us the way to build a progressive India. Apart from Nehru’s Towards Freedom and Gandhi’s My Experiments With Truth, there was a book that was written about Nehru by Vincent Sheean, titled Nehru: The Years of Power. The book brings to fore Nehru’s politics, ideology and strengths as a statesman. At the moment, I’m reading Good Derivatives: A Story of Financial and Environmental Innovation by Richard Sandor, in which he tries to demonstrate how financial innovation and environmentalism can work hand in hand. I’m not too fond of contemporary Indian authors. The Gita says spreading knowledge leads to greater knowledge. I firmly believe in this maxim.
Politician Deepender Hooda may not agree with Arundhati Roy’s ideas, but considers her writing ‘political poetry’