Monday, February 12, 2007

Need For Quality Books About Indian Politics

I just finished reading Plan of Attack by Bob Woodward and started reading State of Denial by the same author. The book Plan of Attack gives the reader a detailed account of how President Bush and his allies planned and executed the ouster of Saddam Hussein. I am not sure how much of Bob’s account is true but for me, reading that book gave me an idea about how the American democracy works. It gave me a picture of a typical day of various administrators under President Bush. It also shows us the amount of work the elected representatives carry out in the form of meetings/discussion before important policy decisions are made. These kinds of books also help the readers to judge their leaders and decide for themselves if they are making right decisions.
I read Against All Enemies written by Richard Clarke, who served as the National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection and Counter terrorism under President Clinton and President Bush. In this book he narrates in detail what happened in Washington following 9/11 terrorist attack in the US. Various meetings/strategies, policy changes following 9/11 are described in this book. A common US citizen can understand what actions their Government took when their nation faced a great danger.
I have been reading a hell lot of books about current affairs of US lately. I am more interested in reading such books about India. I am yet to find a good book similar to few I read about US. I am very much interested what, then Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao and his cabinet colleagues did before and after Babri Masjid was demolished. I like to know if they discharged their duties correctly and judiciously during the time of crisis? I like to know about the detail discussion then Prime Minister Vajpayee and his cabinet colleagues had when India was fighting a war in Kargil against Pakistan. Can I find a book similar to Against All Enemies which describes how Indian executive executed the plan for defeating Pakistan in Kargil war? I am yet to find a good book on these topics.
Again in May 2004, when then Prime Minister of India, Atal Bihari Vajpayee lost the confidence vote on the floor of the Lok Sabha by 1 vote I am sure lot of political maneuvering might have taken place behind the scenes. If such a thing has happened in US, the whole world could have read about all the political dramas that had taken place through 100’s of books that might have been published and few could have become best sellers also. If such kinds of books are published with the same frequency in India as in the US then we could know the dirty politics played by our politicians to stay in power.
I believe such kinds of books are very much necessary. Now if an American interested in knowing how the various Presidents have carried out their responsibilities he has tons of books to refer to, but what about the situation in India. Most Americans know what is a typical day of their President. How many of us know what a typical day of Indian Prime Minister is like?
I use to think why there is less number of books about current affairs/public figures in India? It is not because we don’t have good writers. I feel majority of Indians are not interested in going in depth about the various political issues. Majority of Indians feel that politics and politicians are dirty and they don’t want to know much about them and their policies. They fail to understand that various decisions taken by their leaders are going to have a direct impact on their lives. Publication of various books/articles helps the common people to understand how our leaders make decisions and if they have made the correct decisions.
QUALITY BOOKS ON CURRENT AFFAIRS HELP US TO UNDERSTAND OUR POLITICAL SYSTEM BETTER
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16 Comments:

Blogger Brijesh said...

If you guys know of any good books you have come across that deal with current affairs of India please let me know so that I can read that.
Thanks in Advance
Brijesh

February 12, 2007 2:26 AM  
Blogger silverine said...

Publishing a book in India is an expensive and laborious affair. Besides lack of adequate readers for such books who would absorb the costs also act as a deterrent. And if someone does bring about such a book, then there is no guarantee that it will see the light of day, due to various factors like ban on it's sale on some flimsy pretext or lengthy litigation in the guise of protecting sensitive information.

February 12, 2007 2:28 AM  
Blogger Sachin R K said...

Have you read 'The Insider' by Narasimha Rao? Though it is dubbed to be a work of fiction, it seems to be based on reality. Havent read it yet , which could answer your question - when people interested in politics , like yourself and yours truly, have not read such books, what incentive for anyone to publish such?

February 12, 2007 2:57 PM  
Blogger Kuttan said...

I agree with silverine the obstacles for a current affairs book would be simply unsurmountable for many an author or publishing company. The list of clearance and approvals you would need if you are writing about something controversial is too much. Remember Rang de Bansati even that movie which vaguely mentioned MIG crashes in air forces had to get approval from every one in the government and armed forces. Freedom of speech is a Sham in our country.

February 12, 2007 3:12 PM  
Blogger Brijesh said...

@Silverine,
Publishing a book is expensive agreed but if more and more people are interested in buying and reading then there will be more books. Making a movie is expensive but since we have lot of people to watch all kinds of crazy movie we have lots of movies. If more and more people come forward to buy books then all these obstacles will go away.

@Sachin R K
I do have a personal copy of it. I really liked that book. It has detailed account of his life till he became the CM of Andra Pradesh and pushed the land reforms. I was eagerly waiting for his next book when he was planning to publish his days as Prime Minister. I think the book was 75% complete when he died. Sachin it is a nice book for those who like politics. If you get a chance read that.

@Kuttan - this crapy system of regulations have to go away. Even the film censorship has to be stopped. This kind of regulations/restrictions have no place in modern world.

February 12, 2007 8:19 PM  
Blogger Umesh said...

I do not think India is a country of avid readers. American culture promotes a lot of reading from a very early stage. I feel that that is the biggest hurdle. I myself was not an avid reader until I got here. So that might be the issue why we do not get any reading material on current affairs in India. Moreover, this current young reading community in the US will be the ones formulating the policy of tomorrow. I wish Indians also understood that and developed a culture of reading habits among the young.

February 16, 2007 5:56 PM  
Blogger Umesh said...

An American's point of view of a democracy: "I will elect a person whom I can trust my safety and security with, atleast for the next 4 years".
An Indian's point of view of a democracy: "Democracy means I vote. For who? Whoever has the symbol of the palm. Why? Because i like the palm and that party was started by Gandhiji. Do you know if it impacts your life? I do not care. Infact I do not give a damn. I just vote".

February 16, 2007 6:00 PM  
Blogger Brijesh said...

umesh,
I also started reading more after coming here. I started reading while travelling and it has now become an habit. The public libraries here are amazing.

regarding your second comment- you are mentioning about COngress. I dont think we can pinpoint to one single party. Our voters doesnt have political maturity and more important they have very short "political memory". we cant blame them as they are always left with a choice of selecting between bad and worst every time they go out to vote.

February 17, 2007 1:15 AM  
Blogger Prasanna said...

Hi Brijesh

Small Correction

Vajpayee lost the vote of confidence by 1 vote on April 1998 not May 2004

Yaa it will intersting to read how cunning old fox ,master manipulator Surjeet along with Sonia and her cohorts managed to unseat that government

One would be intersted in knowing 1)how Gridhar Gamang(who was the Congress Chief Minister of Orrisa) was still allowed to cast his vote

2)What was the Congress understanding with Sifuddin Soz who defied the NC whip to vote against NDA government

3)How Vajpayee managed DMK to vote for his government?Was the matineed idol Rajinikanth 's role instrumental ?

4)Whether the Sedappati Muthiah(ADMK)'s blunder was really one?He still claims he pressed the wrong button

5)And if K.R Narayanan was already aware of the outcome?

If someone can write a book on all this,it will make a racy ,fascinating reading

February 17, 2007 5:09 AM  
Blogger Brijesh said...

Prasanna,
Sorry for that mistake.Thanks a lot for pointing out that mistake.
It was infact in 1998 when Vajpayee lost the vote of confidence by 1 vote.

Yes it should have made a great reading what all happened that fortnight in Delhi before that motion was put to vote.

February 17, 2007 5:38 AM  
Blogger Vivek Kumar said...

General V. P. Malik has authored a book "Kargil: From Surprise to Victory".

February 17, 2007 8:37 AM  
Blogger stayingpositive said...

I agree with silverine and kuttan.

I also believe there's another key reason as to why such books are not so popular. The lack of interest in politics as such is due to the lack of power of the average Indian citizen in electing the big guns of the country. His voting power can probably get him his local councillor(hopefully right spelling). But in countries like USA, the citizen has a real right to elect Bush or anyone else. This greater power sparks greater interest.

Just my 2 cents.

AK

February 17, 2007 2:13 PM  
Blogger Brijesh said...

prasanna
to add to your list

Role played by Dr Subramania Swamy in brining down the government.

Vivek

Thanks for the info. I will surely read this book.

Stayingpositive
it is correct that many Indians only like to read the sensational events in politics.

Bottom line is lot of people are not willing to learn more about what is happening with their elected representatives. Hence they are not interested in reading and so no books come out.

February 17, 2007 2:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nair,

I think you can write an excellent article on this suject. I will be waiting to see your take on this issue and malayalam movies in general. Thanks

http://www.rediff.com/movies/2007/feb/16ssmam.htm

February 18, 2007 1:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I apologize for posting the above unrelated comment in this post. I did not know how else to convey this message to you. sorry again, folks

February 18, 2007 1:30 AM  
Blogger Ashok said...

May I disagree with the assessment that the risk of publishing deters authors and publishers from taking up these exciting topics. Such great books on Indian politics are not published even from outside India to bypass the risks.

As a politics editor in a leading international publishing house in India, I would grab a book of the kind being discussed here. But we don't get such great stuff.

I think good research on such topics does not happen in India. Among the likely reasons, I think the following three could be counted: (1) Non-fiction writing is not very profitable in India (or rather, for Indians). So, a good journalist/writer is highly unlikely to get returns on investing in superb research. (2) People who can do this as a labour of love, (say, academics) rarely know how to write a non-fiction book for a general audience, and may not have the skill to gather information on a current affairs topic.

Memoirs are useful but unlikely to offer the full picture. And true, libel laws are such that shoddy research or sensationalism can land the author and publisher in trouble. But we are just looking for good research and good writing -- non-controversial books sell enough to make it profitable for us publishers ;-)

April 19, 2007 6:21 PM  

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