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Geek by profession, thinker/writer/artist by passion. Part-time blogger,social media enthusiast and a tramp by nature :) A Man Of Mud


Thursday, July 23, 2015

Book Review - Mandate : Will of The People

Vir Sanghvi's book Mandate: Will of The People was quite a revelation to me. I expected it to be yet another book chronicling post-independence Indian political history, but it turned out to be something entirely different and delightfully so.  For those of us who became politically aware in the 90s and later, there is a clear disconnect when our political leaders talk of the Emergency, Operation Blue Star, Indira Gandhi assassination, the genocide that followed and many other past events . Sure we can read it up in history books, look up Wikipedia and hear stories about them but frankly there is too much information to process and more importantly, it appears to have little value in the present age. But can we really ignore the past and still hope not to commit the same mistakes all over again?

I wonder if it's by design or simply a coincidence, that at a time when our span of attention on social media is limited to 140 characters, eminent journalist Vir Sanghvi's book has come up with this book which comprises  of about 140 pages and claims to tell political history of nearly five decades! Sanghvi says, this book should be read in one sitting and I assure you would if you are interested in politics. The author weaves the narrative around successive general elections from 1971 to 2014, tracing the source of people's mandate for each government that followed and their achievements and failures which shaped the public perception thus determining the next mandate.

Though a book on political history Sanghvi almost makes it read like a thriller, revealing little known facts and snippets of interviews which open up entirely new perspectives in some instances, such as those about the Emergency, Giani Zail Singh, PV Narsimha Rao and even Manmohan Singh. Now it would be unfair to give away the "revelations" here (may not be revelations for some people but for me it was and I reckon  it would be the same for lot of readers of my generation at least).  But just to arouse your curiosity, I must say that I was surprised to learn that Indira Gandhi did not really just inherit leadership, she had to fight for it in her early years and established the dynasty in later years. Sanghvi's first person account brings alive the real politics that were being played behind the curtains in the corridors of power in Delhi and what shaped the decisions that bore long term impact on Indian polity and the nation as a whole.
Strongly recommended for everyone interested in Indian politics.