A Revelational Memoir
“… I was still a student at Allahabad University when I first heard him at a public lecture. While the mikes were being tested, my friend whispered, ‘Do you know Pundit Nehru once slapped an electrician when his mike failed?’ Another friend added, ‘Of course, he would do that now—he is an aristocrat after all!”, this is one of the unknown facts about Nehru which not many of people heard of. The book is an account of such personal instances penned by the author.
From Nehru to Rajiv Gandhi, Atal Behari Vajpayee the book envelopes high profile rendezvous. The writer, a professor and also headed the Population Research Center and all through his career he wrote many scribbles which now have come through this book as life memoir.
The book is divided into three phases—From Nehru to BIMARU, This Is The Life and third being Danger And Drama. These phases have chapters which individually describe the various instances as there is no single thread that runs through them.
It is the author’s representation on BIMARU, and in the process, presents his unique view of modern India. He artistically paints the vivid portrait of life—from his childhood in Kolhapur to his stay in Delhi for higher studies.
The book has insight of the shadowed part of Indian democracy—the Emergency in one of the chapter, where he wrote about AB Vajpayee, who was then hospitalised in AIIMS under high police security as he was seriously ill. “… I managed to reach Vajpayee’s room and found him lying in bed and in great pain… When I greeted him he didn’t recognise me. I then asked him about his health and he said, ‘I am doomed. They will kill me… there is no hope of the Emergency being lifted. The masses are cowed down… the Emergency will be a prolonged affair.’”
Further in the book the writer shares the first-hand impact of 26/11 Mumbai attacks on people of Mumbai. “…next I went to Taj hotels, but found them barricaded by the police. I went to the Gateway of India and ran into hordes of camera-wielding hawkers offering to take pictures of me against the partially-blackened façade of the Taj at Rs 30 per picture… I could not help wondering why Raj Thackeray, who thunders about the Marathi manoos being threatened by ‘outsiders’ from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh in particular, had kept silent through this episode.”
Truly with these instances that the book covers, the author has demographically pictured the whole India from the past to the future. This makes the book interesting and requisites the reader to reach for each new chapter.
Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd, 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi-110017
By Sachin Kaushik