As India enters its 75th year of independence, Ebury Publishing and Vintage, a division of Penguin Random House India (PRHI), is set to launch a new imprint, Penguin Veer, dedicated to stories of India’s armed forces. Under the direction of Milee Ashwarya, Publisher of Ebury Publishing and Vintage, and Gurveen Chadha, Senior Commissioning Editor and Foreign Rights Lead, Penguin Veer will begin by publishing around three new titles annually, starting 2021.
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“There is a current trend for war and hero stories as well as books centred around the defence forces. But there is a gap in this genre, with several inspiring and important stories still remaining untold,” says Ashwarya. “Some of these have had a major role to play in geopolitics and have shaped the future course of events for the nation.” PRHI has a substantial list of titles focused on the armed forces. Best-sellers from its stable have cumulatively sold over 1.5 lakh copies, including two hugely successful volumes by journalist Rachna Bisht Rawat—The Brave: Param Vir Chakra Stories and Kargil: Untold Stories from the War.
In recent months, PRHI has published Vijyant at Kargil: The Biography of a War Hero by Colonel VN Thapar and Neha Dwivedi, 1971: Stories of Grit and Glory from the Indo-Pak War by Major General Ian Cardozo and Operation Khukri: The True Story behind the Indian Army’s Most Successful Mission as part of the United Nations by Major General Rajpal Punia and Damini Punia, all in the same sub-genre. Later this year, Penguin Veer’s list will feature The Battle of Rezang La by retired commandant Kulpreet Yadav, which tells the true story of a face-off between 120 Indian and 5,000 Chinese soldiers in Ladakh in 1962. In the pipeline is also a thrilling account of the rescue of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina during the 1971 war.
“India has fought five wars since independence and there are many stories to tell. But Indian citizens know very little about India’s defence forces,” says Cardozo, praising the initiative. “(The latter) have a stake in the security of the country and for this they need to know more about how we in the armed forces live and behave in peace so that we know how to fight and die in war.” His sentiments are echoed by fellow author Bisht Rawat. “Soldiers don’t die on battlefields. They die when an ungrateful nation forgets their sacrifice,” she adds. “I hope Penguin Veer shall keep them alive in our hearts forever.”