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sanjya gandhi

To confess, this was one political figure I always had the anxiety to know more as much as I heard or read was that he created a furor in the political scenario during his short stint.  The big question was that how did a nation of over 600 million people bow down to the caprice of a Prime Minister's pampered son.  The best observant eyes were that of Vinod Mehta, perhaps the best known name in Indian journalism.  Mehta filtered his observations and insights into this appraisal of the Sanjay Gandhi phenomenon, and its impact on the national scene.  The story starts at the Nehru family home, and Feroze Gandhi's relationship with the Nehrus, particularly Kamala and Indira.  Key to understanding their son's volatile personality are the complexes and insecurities that plagued the Indira-Feroze marriage.

In his own unique style of, Vinod Mehta shifts facts from rumors, and gets to the core of Sanjay's dramatic emergence after the declaration of Emergency.  His capturing of the Youth Congress, the excesses of the sterilization campaign and his obsession with cars, which led to the establishment of the Maruti factory are all brought out in telling detail as is the media's role in building the cult of Sanjay.

Containing a new introduction by the author, The Sanjay Story allows readers to look with the benefit of hindsight at the rise and fall of one of independent India's most controversial figures.  What emerge is not only an understanding of Sanjay and his times, but also of India's current political scenario.  Flint published more than three decades ago, this still remains the only biography of one of India's most controversial political figures and hence a crucial historical document of an era which changed Indian politics forever.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  The author himself has an extraordinary story.  He grew up as an army brat from a Punjabi refugee family in Lucknow of the 1950s.  Leaving home with a BA third class degree, he experimented with a string of jobs, including that of a factory hand in suburban Britain, before accepting an offer to edit Debonair, a journal best known for featuring naked women.  With the eclecticism and flair that were to become his hallmark, he turned it into a lively magazine while managing to keep the fans of its center spreads happy.  The next three decades saw him become one of India's most influential editors as he launched a number of successful publications from the Sunday Observer to Pioneer to Outlook.  Currently, he is editorial chairman of the Outlook Group.  Vinod Mehta published in 2001 a collection of his articles under the title Mr Editor, How Close Are You to the PM?  His much acclaimed memoir, Lucknow Boy was published in 2011.

MY TAKE:  This book allows readers to look with the benefit of hindsight on the rise and fall of one of independent India’s most controversial figures.  What emerges from the text is not only an understanding of Sanjay and his times, but an understanding of India’s current political scenario.  Vinod Mehta confirms the truth of history writing that to engage intelligently with the present, you must come to terms with the past, even a past as inglorious and bewildering as the Emergency.  In my opinion, this is a direct and well-written biography sure to appeal to readers with an interest in history, politics and current affairs.  The biography looks at the larger controversies of Sanjay’s period of power namely the Emergency, nasbandi, Maruti with a direct and unflinching eye, thus throwing light on the darker periods of independent India’s history.  Not a bad pick either if not much inclined towards politics, as the central character of the book and the author are reasons enough.



AUTHOR:  Vinod Mehta.

PUBLISHER:  HarperCollins.

LANGUAGE:  English.

NUMBER OF PAGES:  272 Pages.

PRICE:  Rs. 499.


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