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Friday, 11 January 2013

Sitting In a Durbar With Tavleen Singh

I first heard about this book when I stopped for a brief moment at NDTV and watched Barkha Dutt interview Tavleen Singh. The interest was immediately aroused when I learnt that this book revolves around Nehru family during 70’s and 80’s.

I lived in Surinam in late 80’s and being Indian, when Indira Gandhi was killed, I had group of local people gather in my house who came to offer condolence.

There was just a brief mention on Local TV channel about Indira Gandhi, and the social media was non-existent, local Hindustanis, the natives of Surinam, wanted to know more about Sikh community, many of them failed to understand how an Indian could kill their own Hindu Prime Minister.

When I moved back to India, I was more curious about Indian politics than ever before. Almost nothing has been written about the inside stories during emergency and Rajiv Gandhi era, and the beginning of Punjab and Kashmir problems, therefore I was most pleased when I chanced upon this book.

What I liked about this book is that it’s a first hand account of events unfolding as she takes you through the corridors of power and the mistakes that they made, of not being able to change policies or bring about changes when it could have been done.

I saw how my life as a journalist open up doors that made me constantly ashamed of how India has been betrayed by people like me. I believe that it is because India was let down by the ruling class that she failed to become the country she could have been. If we had been less foreign and more aware of India’s great wealth of language and literature, of her ancient text on politics and governance and her scriptures, we would have wanted to change many things, But we failed and brought up our children, as we have been, as foreigners in our own country fascinated by all things foreign and disdain of all thing Indian” she writes

She describes Sonia Gandhi, the president of the congress, as merely a foreigner who loathes the nation she reluctantly adopted as her own, one who fervently stated that she would rather see her children beg on streets than allow them to them join politics.

"Sonia's taste in fur coats was so refined that she was not satisfied with Soviet tailoring and had the coat sent to Rome to be redesigned by Italian fashion house Fendi. These were the stories that are never possible to confirm, but gossip rarely needs confirmation to be believed," Singh writes.

"That Sonia's become the most important political leader in India is a comment on other political leaders," she says admitting that one of her motivations in writing the book was to chip away at the Gandhi mystique.

An interesting book that kept me awake late nights even after I had shut the book and the lights to log on to yet another day.


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