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tavleen

In a nutshell, it is a revealing account of our political past that holds crucial lessons for today's India.  In the summer of 1975 Tavleen Singh, not yet 25, started working as a junior reporter in the Statesman in New Delhi.  Within five weeks, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi declared the Emergency, suspending fundamental rights and imposing press censorship, and soon reckless policies said to be authored by the prime minister's younger son were unleashed on India's citizens.  As the country suffered under the iron fist of an elected icon and her chosen heir, Tavleen observed that a small, influential section of Delhi's society people she knew well remained strangely unaffected by the perilous state of the nation.  Before long, members of this circle were entrenched in key positions in the Indian government.

In 1984, following Indira Gandhi's assassination, Rajiv Gandhi became prime minister, fortified by a huge mandate from a nation desperate for change. But, belying its hopes, the young leader chose for himself a group of advisors, friends and acolytes from the drawing rooms of Delhi, as inexperienced as him and just as unaware of the ground realities of a complex nation.  It was the beginning of a political culture of favoritism and ineptitude that would take hold at the highest levels of government, stunting India's ambitions and frustrating its people well into the next century.

Seasoned reporter and distinguished newspaper columnist Tavleen Singh's Durbar is a sharp account of these turbulent years.  Describing the Nehruvian era of her childhood, the Emergency of her youth and the political shifts that followed.  Tavleen writes of the birth and evolution of insurgencies in Punjab and Kashmir, the blood spilt in assassinations and massacres, of crises internal and external and the clumsy attempts to set things right.  A remarkable memoir, vivid with the colour of election campaigns and society dinners, low conspiracies and high corruption, Durbar rewards us with this truth: that if India is to achieve a better future the past can no longer be ignored or forgotten.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Tavleen Singh is the author of three books, Kashmir: A Tragedy of Errors, Lollipop Street: Why India Will Survive Her Politicians and Political and Incorrect.  She spends her time between Delhi and Mumbai and writes four weekly political columns, in Hindi for Amar Ujala and Jansatta, and in English for syndication and an exclusive column for the Indian Express.

MY TAKE:  This book is fascinating read but devoid of any literary values.  Tavleen had tried to give what goes between the scenes in New Delhi Power circle but it was without any idealogical rant.  This book is ideologically neutral that is refreshing and this is quality.  I would like to recommend this book as a good pick due to the following reasons.  Firstly, what I loved the most in Durbar is Tavleen Singh’s omnipresence.  She appears to be is present wherever there is action whether it is Turkman Gate, 1984 riots, troubles in Kashmir, Operation Blue Star and Black Thunder.  Secondly, while being everywhere, she just refuses to be a petty reporter instead she doubles as an interlocutor, political counsel, messenger, diplomat and even an adventurous good samaritan.  Thirdly, it is really enlightening to know how important dinner and drinks parties had been in running the country.  In Durbar, everything happens in Delhi and the protagonists are the Gandhi family and the khadi-kurtawallas of the north Indian states.   What matters is the story.  More than half the characters in the story are dead and the other half, including Sonia Gandhi, have no time to even refute disastrous allegations against her family.

BOOK DETAILS

BOOK:  Durbar.

AUTHOR:  Tavleen Singh.

PUBLISHER:  Hachette.

LANGUAGE       English

NUMBER OF PAGES:  324 Pages

PRICE:  Rs. 599

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