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Dad has a mind of his own: Manmohan Singh’s daughter on memoir

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Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has to make up his mind whether or not he wants to write his autobiography, his daughter Daman Singh has said.

“My father has a mind of his own. Am sure whether he writes would depend on whether he feels it would be an exciting thing to do,” Daman Singh said at a event to mark the publication of her book titled “Strictly Personal: Manmohan and Gursharan”.

The book, “a tough job” begins with early days of Manmohan Singh and his wife Gursharan Kaur in the 1930s ending in the year 2004. Places like Amritsar, Patiala, Hoshiarpur, Chandigarh, Oxford, Cambridge, New York, Geneva, Mumbai and New Delhi, where the author’s parents spent much of their lives, have been featured in the book.

Daman, who had written two novels prior to this book said biographies by three authors – Vikram Seth, Syliva Nasar and MJ Akabar had helped her make up her mind to write about her parents in an “affectionate and honest” manner.

“‘True Lives’ by Seth is a beautiful account which made a big impact on me. The second book is by Sylvia Nadar on the mathematician John Nash. The third is a biography by MJ Akbar on Nehru. This biography I believe was fascinating because it gave such a personal account on such a public persona,” Daman said.

Talking about the process of writing the book, which began to form in her mind some five years ago she said, “I would prepare a list of questions make an appointment with my father or my mother, drive across to their place and record the conversation and then come back to transcribe it.”

“It is a book about two minds, It portrays their ideas, opinions, beliefs, values and attitudes. It how these ideas were formed and how they changed over time,” Daman said.

The book, said the author, is also “about India that has just been divided but finally freed. It talks about how the nation struggled to move ahead sometimes with courage and conviction and sometimes with confusion and despair.”

One of the challenges, Daman said she faced was writing about economics. “It was hard to talk to him about economic issues but they played a huge part of his life so I had a hard time talking to him but also write about them.”

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