BEYOND the ‘lal batti’ and behind the curtained ambassador cars, political manipulations run thick and high in Delhi’s power corridors. And the players in this drama are not only the politicians but also the bureaucrats, the great legacy of the British administration.
The protagonist of the debut novel The goat, the sofa and Mr. Swami by R Chandrasekar is an IAS officer, Swami, posted with the PMO. Like Humphrey of the ‘Yes Prime Minister’ series, Swami saves many a moments for the Prime Minister, who is old, and has wicked habits.
Swami’s sole interest is in keeping the Delhi posting, not to go back to his home state, which looks like a dirty backyard. One of the major events to take place during Swami’s tenure at the PMO is the Pakistani prime minister’s visit to Delhi to watch an Indo-Pak cricket match. The visiting PM proposes to give a mountain goat as gift to the Indian counterpart.
The Agriculture minister, who is also the BCCI president and an arch rival of the Prime Minister, tries to play foul by ‘ordering’ a sandalwood sofa to seat the dignitaries at the match. The man caught smuggling sandalwood claims that it had been ordered by the PM. Enter Swami. He swings into action and fixes the matter, by establishing the connection between the smuggler and the rival minister.
Now the goat. A meeting of all kinds of secretaries to the government, animal welfare people, Maneka Gandhi and et all are invited, to discuss and decide how to receive the goat, where to house it and how to take care of it. This meeting constitutes 10 subcommittees to deal with each of these issues, with Swami as the ex-official member of all of them.
The match turns into a disaster. India loses. Swami plays an indirect role in this. He is saved this time by his master, the Prime Minister, who sends Swami to his time tested remedy place during crisis – the hospital.
The author is a financial person, dealing in priced commodities, derivatives, trade bonds, etc. The book has some hilarious moments, especially the digs the author takes at the expense of the civil servants. The politicians have always been a butt of joke. An engaging read.
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