‘Mother, Where’s My Country?’ by Anubha Bhonsle | Book Review

Mother-Wheres-My-Country-Banner-anubha bhonsle

The reason for me to pick this book is its author – Anubha Bhonsle, the Executive Editor of CNN-IBN based out of India’s capital city. Over the past 10 years, her work in journalism, ​be it about human rights or politics or armed forces, has never once failed to intrigue me. In this non-fictional account, Anubha​ choses a topic that will tug at your heart. The book is about India’s north-eastern state Manipur, where much of her work has been focused. The state which has been ravaged by rampant ethnic rivalries, insurgency and counter-insurgency operations,​ and the inexcusable corruption.

The book never leans towards leaving you with only one side of the story.​ This is an entire account spanning more than 10 years, where we get to hear first hand information from the local people, the state and central government, the armed forces as well as the insurgent groups. It is only because Anubha’s work has been concentrated in the state of Manipur and between the Manipuris that the locals have opened up to her.​ You feel the importance of her work at that as you turn page after page.​ Also the pain. Lots and lots of pain.

mother wheres my country book cover

The book is an effort to throw attention on the small state of North Eastern India and what its people go through each and every day of the year​. Imagine being threatened​ and ​victimised ​year after year just for the sake of an elected representative trying to get you to vote for him. You will be stirred and shocked to witness the lack of political will and alienation that the state has suffered from and start wondering ​whether this part of​ the​ independent state of India ​has really been dragged out of the colonial rule or not.

The author has been able to make this book a gripping read as she takes us through the story of a woman Irom Sharmila, who has been on a protest fast since 2000. With her as our protagonist, the book takes us through the streets of Manipur, the houses, the local food, the culture, the markets. The book takes a step more and portrays the life of the locals under the shadow of the gun. While we continue our jokes on the AFSPA-Chutzpah rhyme-play, there exist actual people suffering and dying at AFSPA’s hands. Multiple interviews with militants and anonymous army officials back up this story.

As I read accounts of the people staying in Manipur through it all, the only words that would resound in my mind are deep loss, denial of memory​ and gross injustice. ​​The heart-wrenching account of ​the conversations between Bhonsle and ​Sharmila only bleed violence ​and trauma​ and leave you utterly speechless.​

As rightly put by many others this is a necessary book. ​It tells you that Manipur is much more than what is splashed across on media and even our books in schools.​ This is a compelling book and its strong, able report-like narration makes it a unputdownable read. Do read.

Overall Rating: 4/5

You may purchase this book from Flipkart here- 

We received this book through Flipkart Review Program.

1 Comment

  • Desmond Coutinho says:

    If you would like to read Sharmila’s thoughts on this book here they are. “Even though Anuva Bhonsle’s book don’t stand on our favour it exposed our true relationship to the whole world. She exaggerates a lot & there are many inconsistencies in her narrations.” I would add that any book that focuses attention on Sharmila’s plight now is welcome. Mx Bhonsle has presented only the HRLN view of the trials as a petty inconvenience to be dealt with as quickly as possible. From the beginning of the first trial in October 2012 in Delhi where I appeared for Sharmila at her request we both opposed the HRLN plan for her to plead guilty and then be released based on time served. The discussion with Mr Gonsalvez was not reported accurately. He wanted to drop the case as quickly as possible and both Sharmila and I believed that lining up activists and celebrities from the Nobel Laureat Shirin Ebadi, Medha Patkar and all the others who would have been happy to stand beside Sharmila at her trial to embarrass the Indian and Manipuri Governments give an opportunity for the quarter of a million Northeasterners in Delhi to turn up and rally beside her and force the politicians into dialogue rather than more promises of dialogue. At the last hearing the HRLN rested without allowing Sharmila to take the stand as is her right and without presenting any of her chosen defence witnesses. (Characters witnesses to rebut mens rea if you want the legal term). If I had dismissed the lawyers earlier then they would have had a field day calling me all sorts of names. The only option left to Sharmila if she wants to make any statement to the Judge before he deliberates is to dismiss the HRLN which permission I have now formally requested in writing from the Judge pursuant to my power of attorneyship signed by Sharmila seeking that he confirm this with her when presented. I have also initiated proceedings with the Chief Justice of India via the Metropolitan Magistrate on the grounds that the Magisrate in Imphal the CJM IE is now illegally detaining Sharmila beyond the 365 days maximum the law allows, that she and the police are obstructing the course of justice in not allowing Sharmila to attend the final hearing in Delhi (last hearing date was 3 & 4 February 2016 and that in any case the trial that she took over from the CJM IW after the prosecution rested should have been treated as a mistrial with the prosecution asked to refile. Instead of which Sharmila has not been allowed to depose her statements and the defence witnesses have been intimidated in her words again. “my exposition of the JPF’s lying as to their interference with my manuscript of answers to the questionnaire from May 18 Memorial making up of the Gwangjiu Prize winners book of which it was released in the recent past in South Korea, they distracted all the about to be defence witnesses of mine from appearing before the judge as a retaliation to me.” I thoroughly commend this book to all to read. Mx Bhonsle admits to sacrificing balance for truth and there are as many opinions on earth as there are sons of men. She clearly doesn’t understand the judicial process though. No trial has actually been completed yet. The District & Sessions Judgement of August 2014 dismissed that year’s Charge Sheet on a technicality ie zero evidence was provided by the police as to mens rea. The Government of Manipur had the judgement stayed in the High Court because of the way it was being spun as a demand by the judge to end all rearrests. The decision of the Judicial Magistrate First Class was also in response to a motion to dismiss which Sharmila objected to. Her side has never been told about this. In any event the trial that followed was at a higher court. And now in Imphal given that the rule of law is being completely done away with anyone who did understand the legal situation and believed the rule of law was important might find the facts more interesting than the limited ones presented in the book. However this is India perhaps the rule of law in Manipur doesn’t matter all that much to anyone. Certainly please read the book and encourage friends to do the same. My name is Desmond Coutinho 2 Abbey Court, Portumna, County Galway, Eire H53 FY98

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