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Book Review: Wings of Destiny (Ziaur Rahman Ansari – A Life) by Fasihur Rahman

India’s freedom struggle movement has had many unsung heroes, politically and locally. However, many went with the Indian Congress Party and have had dazzling political careers. There is a lot of content and resource available through textbooks, documentaries, and films…but it doesn’t take along with it prominent Muslim figures who were not only freedom fighters but also turned holistic capable leaders under the rule of Congress Party, especially with Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

‘Wings of Destiny’ is a work of non-fiction: part memoir and part biography on Ziaur Rahman and his father Habibur Rahman Ansari. The latter’s family moved to Bangarmau, Unnao, when he wasn’t even born. The book sheds optimum light on the family tree of Ziaur Rahman that leads to a study on his father Habibur Rahman Ansari, he was a scholar, freedom fighter, and a prolific author whose letters, essays, and other scholastic resources stirred difficulties for the Colonial powers like British Raj.

This book is a result of minute detailing and an excellent work of research. When it’s about the ancestors of Ziaur Rahman Ansari, the book delves in the famous episodes that happened during India’s struggle for freedom against the British. His father Habibur was inspired by Gandhi and was moved by massacre of Jaliawalan Bagh. Habibur was loyal to Congress and never supported the Indian Muslim League which had a heavy influence on the Muslim mass of India. In 1946 when Habibur fought in the elections from Unnao constituency, he lost to a Muslim League candidate; they were like goons for their non-supporters. However, in 1951 Habibur won the same constituency. But after 1957 defeat, he sort of silently taken retirement from politics. On the other hand his son Ziaur Rahman became popular as a student leader and rose like a phoenix.

As the book chugs ahead, you see Ziaur Rahman becomes a close ally in the Congress Party and wins some formidable elections for the party. He remained active in politics from 1962 to 1992. However, his journey from Unnao to Janpath in Delhi wasn’t a cakewalk. Post emergency in 1975 -77 and assassination of Indira Gandhi, the glory of Congress was fading and its burnout didn’t fall only on the Congress family but also the leadership of Ziaur Rahman was questioned.

Being a true loyalist, he remained adamant. The book is about his dogmatism, loyalty, and political ally. From facts to stats to anecdotes, the tale of this great unsung hero is at times larger than life. This book serves as an information provider about India’s one most revered family that served the nation before and after independence.

Another likeable aspect of the book is that it doesn’t cover its auxiliary characters tangentially. Whenever the lead characters/figures are talked about in neighborhood and with friends and teachers or others, the author has briefly included their introduction, which shows the remarkable ability of the author to present facts in great and true light.

It cannot be said openly that the book belongs to all but it certainly appeals to people interested in learning about India’s modern political history with episodes like 1975 – 77 emergency and so on.

The author Fasihur Rahman being a direct family member of the subjects of the book delivered insights and story building with an immaculate precision. Kudos to his brilliant narrative style, and his spirit to upkeep the stature of his ancestors that brought a lot to this nation!


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