Read On Balance by Leila Seth Free Online
Book Title: On Balance|
The author of the book: Leila Seth
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 337 KB
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Reader ratings: 3.1
Edition: Penguin Global
Date of issue: January 9th 2008
ISBN 13: 9780143101390
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A very appropriately titled autobiography of Leila Seth. The word 'Balance' is key to her life, one can see how it almost defines her life, how she lived and the choices she made. For instance, how many people can say ( or will be able to say in the future) 'I have lived a happy married life for over sixty years.' In addition, I can safely say that this 'balance' characterizes how she has used the language, how this book is structured.
In general, Indians are emotional and sentimental people ( which I admire), but here we meet a woman who is judicious, candid, and admirable in almost everything she did. For instance, one of the reasons she wrote this book is for grandchildren. She thought that time is not on her side, and the book might help the kids later on in life to know about who their grandparents were. Indeed a remarkable gesture of her part.
Even though I knew her as the well-known author Vikram Seth's mother, in the Book, I got totally drawn into her world. It is interesting to read about different places and people – her friends, colleagues, members of her extended family, parents. I would say that the book gives a good a sense of how people lived in the early 50s and 60s people, for instance, I liked reading about Patna and Calcutta. There is nothing in the book that is overblown or exaggerated. Very often, when retired bureaucrats and politicians write their memoirs, they brazenly either justify themselves or, even worse, they glorify themselves.
There are so many things in the book that I found interesting. For instance, once she went to a police station to lodge a complaint, the policeman was not keen on doing so until he saw she was a judge. A small incident, but it says a lot about what is rotten in the system. On a more personal level, I admire her life with her husband, and the sorts of thing they did (and did not do–once when people have more responsibilities and power, it is very tempting to take shortcuts to rise higher in life).
I would say that it is also a courageous book. An Indian mother, irrespective of her status, talks openly about the homosexuality of her son. This is indeed an act of courage. In India, such disclosures can boomerang. Clearly, she did this for the larger public. I would say that both in the book and later on in her life, she used her position well to serve the society. Usually, it tires me when I hear the rhetoric of good citizenry from famous people, but in her case, it all seems genuine, sanguine, and deeply-felt acts of love towards society.
Almost all reviewers celebrate her life story primarily because of the success and recognition her children achieved in myriad fields, especially her writer son– Vikram Seth. Even though I admire her, too, for raising a great family; I am a bit weary of hearing about their achievements. I guess I would have admired Vikram Seth as much, had he never won a Booker prize.
Success is wonderful, but it is something else that is even more valuable, exigent, and vital than success. Leila Seth has that 'something' in her and she has left the legacy of that 'something', for her grandchildren, as she mentioned in the book, which to my mind, additionally, is a metaphor for the future generation of Indians. The book can guide anyone who imagines and wishes to create a more reasonable world.
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Read information about the authorBorn in Lucknow to an engineer of the railways in British India, Leila Seth joined the Bar in 1959. She was the first woman to top the London Bar exams in 1958. She handled a large number of Tax matters (Income Tax, Sales Tax, Excise and Customs), Civil, Company and Criminal cases as also Matrimonial suits and writ petitions. In 1978, she was appointed as the first woman judge on the Delhi High Court. In 1991, she was appointed the Chief Justice of Himachal Pradesh and was thus the first woman to become Chief Justice of a state High Court in India.
Justice Seth also served on the Law Commission of India till 2000 and was responsible for the amendments to the Hindu Succession Act which gave equal rights to daughters in joint family property.
She is the mother of author Vikram Seth. Her autobiography On Balance was published in 2003. She has also written a book on the Constitution of India for children.
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