From British to Bullet Train: A Short History of Indian Railways by Rajendra B. Aklekar
In its 174th year of operation, the Indian Railways employs over 13 lakh people and ferries 2.25 crore people daily. The staggering numbers, however, do little to enunciate the rich history of one of India’s oldest and most prolific enterprises.
Noted author, historian, and journalist Rajendra B. Aklekar – an authority on all things Railways – makes an unparalleled attempt to write the history of Indian Railways just through anecdotes, making it lighter, engaging and engrossing.
In his new book titled ‘A Short History of Indian Railways‘, Rajendra takes the reader on a quick time travel through stories with nuggets right from the 1830s to the making of the new high-speed ‘Train 18’ and the Modi’s ambitious Bullet Train.
It is history woven through anecdotes on how the railways came to be, flourished and the responses it generated in the society. An uncommon experiment of telling history only through anecdotes with a thin narrative!
The book is a compilation of carefully curated stories woven together to narrate the history of Indian Railways. With a foreword by Sir Mark Tully, the book has been published by one of India’s prestigious publications, Rupa Books.
The Indian Railways is a treasure trove of stories. Rajendra has gone through the arduous job of handpicking some of the best ones and narrated them in a style that makes reading effortless, thereby opening the book for an audience that isn’t limited to history or rail buffs.
The book has unheard stories of India’s “real” first train with 21 passengers circa 1838, how once bullock carts’ raced with steam engines to prove a point and win business back, a spooky tale of a suicidal engineer, his ghost and a sadhu with possible divine powers who guided British engineers to build a rail tunnel, a sacred sati spot that changed railway alignment, the seven types of rail robbers in India and much more.
As historian Rajendra B. Aklekar is a storyteller too, and a railway devotee, he has chosen to tell stories, or tales, to narrate the history of Indian Railways from the 1830s to today. His stories instruct and entertain, bringing the past of the Indian Railways alive in the present. They will entertain as well as instruct, thereby encouraging Indians to be proud of their railways’ past and to ensure that railways play a crucial role in the future.
Foreword by Mark Tully
(Reproduced with Author’s permission)
The book is available in print and as an e-book here.