Thursday, 18 June 2015

Book review – Mandate: Will Of The People

Author – Vir Sanghvi
Publisher – Westland Ltd
Genre – Non Fiction/Politics
Pages – 137
Price – Rs.195

Sneak from the cover
This is the first easy to read book about recent Indian political history. Pegged on the general elections that shaped today’s India, Mandate: Will Of The People tells the story of Indian politics in a gripping, page turning style.

The Cover
Simple, non nonsense cover shows a serious Vir in an expression that is synonymous with the title – The Will Of people. Having seen his umpteen discussions on TV, one wonders what Vir has to offer in a book that is beyond the panel discussions and shows we are so used to.

My View
I am a carefree reader who generally avoids books on politics; the primary reason being the biased approach most authors reflect. Every time a political/non political person writes about politics, it reflects his opinionated views on the topic rather than the true picture. The same goes for many news channels. Facts are often manoeuvred and tweaked. Hence, when I was offered to review a book which claims to be an easy read about the story of recent Indian history, I was kinda intrigued; how could someone claim to capture the saga of Indian politics from the 70s to millennium in just 137 pages? Since the mere 137 pages was a motivation enough to satiate my curiosity, I immediately got my reading glasses on the moment the book was delivered. When I read Vir talking about his irritation towards easy panel journalism, I got my first positive sign that this book is for me!

Often, things which we least expect from give us unexpectedly good returns. The same holds true for this book. What started off as a mere curiosity killing activity turned out to be an eye opener for me. During my formative years in the 90s, I had heard of many events that shaped the Indian political framework. However, as a kid back then, I could hardly understand their relevance. As the events unfolded year by year in the book, I could relate to the discussions I overheard as a kid between the elders back then. Am sure many of us who were under 30 in the 90s would echo the same sentiments once they read this book.

Mandate is simply a tale of Indian politics from 1970s to the early 2000s, sans views, opinions or unnecessary gyaan about its impact. And that’s the very beauty of this book. It’s a ready key to knowing the people, events and forces that contributed to the creation of the country we live in today.

Since the book isn’t verbose or boring, it’s served best when enjoyed at a leisurely pace. As one progresses chapter by chapter, one comes across some very surprising facts about Indian politics that most of our generation wouldn’t have much idea about. Be it the advent of Indira Gandhi into politics; the similarity between the sweeping victory of Indira Gandhi and the 2014 win of Arvind Kejriwal; how the emergency that we have heard so much from our parents toppled the then government; the 1984 chapter of Punjab, the bloody memory of which is still afresh in many Sikh families; the tussle between Wadias & Ambani; the saga of the cruel Mandal commission that saw many students sacrificing themselves to ashes; how VP Singh made things from bad to worse; the Vajpayee tenure that showed a new ray of hope to the citizens looking for a wave of change – the book captures it all.

A must read, for you wouldn’t find another crispier way to know about the people and events that painted the canvas of Indian politics, as we know it today!

What I loved about the book
·         Unbiased facts and just the facts
·         The events have been carefully worded chronologically, divided into chapters that make it easier to understand the story of Indian politics
·         Vir has often given references to his interviews with people which make the book an interesting read
·         I am honestly impressed how Vir has beautifully and effortlessly put together all the relevant instances in just 137 pages

What could have been better
·    Call it an editing error or some confusion, I was zapped when I reached page 87 which spoke about Rajiv Gandhi’s tenure. The page read, “The Rajiv Gandhi who toured India tirelessly during that campaign bore little resemblance to the haughty and embattled Prime Minister of 1998-99. This Rajiv was relaxed, unfussy, willing to mingle with crowds….” Now, we all know what happened that unfateful day in 1991 to Rajiv Gandhi in Sriperumbudur. Then who was being referred to in the reference to 1998-99?

My rating

About the Author

Vir Sanghvi is probably the best known Indian journalist of his generation. He became editor of Bombay magazine at 22, making him the youngest editor in the history of Indian journalism. His television career has included several award winning shows on Star TV network, NDTV and other channels. He has a parallel career as India’s leading food and travel writer and TV presenter. 

This is review for Writers Melon. The views expressed are my own and under no influence.

1 comment:

  1. Even though I hate his column 'Rude Food' in HT Brunch, this book looks very promising and 137 pages is a strong motivation to read it. Nice review!


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