- Anirudh Joshi-
When I first heard about this book, my first thoughts exactly echoed the opening lines of the foreword by Prof Vamsee Juluri. “What significance, one might ask, can a book about an election in an Indian state over a decade ago have for anyone except the most diligent graduate student in political science or history”. I had the book in my hands a while ago but the same thought probably was behind the delay in actually reading it.
Once I picked up the book to read, I was glad that I did, and finished it faster than what it takes me to finish most books of the similar genre. The 272 pages split into 29 chapters detailed in chronological fashion give a racy account of what the book promises to – tell the story of the elections that shaped Gujarat and how it started Narendra Modi’s rise to national stardom.
It is interesting that while much of the manuscript was ready by 2004, the book actually came to be published only in 2015, after Narendra Modi’s amazing leadership of BJP’s historical victory in 2014 elections.
The book provides the readers with three important things:
One, it allows us to see how Prof Rao and Vishal Sharma had the foresight to understand that the events and personalities that shaped 2002 elections and their result were extremely directional in nature for India’s polity and society and the way its behaviour was gearing up for long-term change.
Two, given the benefit of knowing how BJP and Modi have evolved in last 14 years, and the way they are going about it, it also allows us to make observations on the patterns which have a consistency with what happened in 2002, and changes which they have made to their strategy.
Three, it allows us to see the similarities and changes in the behavioral pattern of other components of the ecosystem – the media, the other political parties, classes and castes of society, election commission, and bureaucracy – of their own and in reaction to the steady rise of BJP and Modi.
I must say Prof Rao and Vishal Sharma have done a very good job of contextualising the 2002 events that shaped the elections, both with the past which led up to it, and appropriate mention of the future directions to give the reader a view which is holistic, authentic and factual.
Yes, the book is clearly in support of BJP and Modi, but it does so in a candid matter of fact style stating the views and facts without resorting to hyperbole. The rich glossary of references throughout the book gives the reader a comfort of a well-researched book backed by data and evidence. The authors have done a good job in explaining the nuances of challenges facing modern, multicultural democracies globally in general and in the specific context of Indian democracy.
One of the many interesting challenges all the democracies face are the so-called well-meaning ideological activists who have insidious agendas backed by powerful lobbies who hide their real purpose under the garb of labels like democracy, human rights, secularism, religious freedom and so on. The real agenda of these activist organisations is always hidden and far more selfish and subversive but they are backed by powerful forces with global reach.
The emerging leadership of all maturing democracies, including India, has to deal with these forces in a manner which is forthright and bold at the same time with a long-term strategic perspective and being on the right side of law and ethics. The book does a good job of opening a window to the nefarious and partisan agendas of such activists and success of Modi and BJP in dealing with it.
It has its shortcomings of course like any other piece of work. Although a lot of different factors are analysed in these chapters, the reader tends to lose the connection of each of them with the central theme of the book as it proceeds to explain the events in a careful manner leading to victory in the elections.
The rich details of references and sources are a prime strength of the book but some of them seem out of place at times and not related to the central theme of the book. Of course, it is easy to find faults and point out what could have been better or could have been dropped. The painstaking research and the careful crafting of arguments, while also boldly displaying the conviction of beliefs, is one of the key strengths of the book.
The manuscript was finished in 2004, predicting how the tide was turning slowly and surely, it got published in 2015, a year after Modi-led BJP to historic victory, and I finished reading it in May 2016, when BJP scored a triumphant victory in Assam, and increased their vote share in all the three states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, West Bengal and Puducherry. They have their first ever government in Assam now and are making steady progress in their agenda of being the dominant national party to govern Bharat in the best interests of Bharat. It all seems like parts of a beautiful symphony, or the unfolding of a melodious raga of Hindustani classical music! n
Khap Panchayat: Women and Honour Killing;
Deepa Awasthi; Kalpaz Publications; Pp 296; Rs 990
This knowledge based edited book is a collection of 20 chapters categorised into four sections with a focus on understanding, discrimination against women, honour crime and laws and other non state agencies. This book also focuses on the issue of brutal killing of couples residing in khap affected areas and opt for inter caste, inter religious and sagotra marriages.
Social Change and Public Administr- -ation in India;
SN Singh, KK Srivastava & SS Chauhan; Kalpaz Publications; Pp 363; Rs 1220
The book includes the articles contributed by eminent academics on the question of social change particularly with focus on Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and the weaker sections of the society. It provides a critical appraisal of policy inventions as to how far they have been able to address the issue in question.
Foreign Policy of Bhutan; Kapileshwar Labh; Kalpaz Publications; Pp 208;
This book is the first systematic study of the foreign policy of Bhutan, based largely on the Bhutanese source material. It comprises of brief study of the conceptual framework of foreign policy. It includes the study of the impact of diverse factors on Bhutan’s foreign policy. Moreover, it comprises of not only the study of changes and continuity in Bhutan’s regional policy but also the study of Bhutan’s global policy.
Dalit Women’s Autobiog- raphies : A Critical Appraisal; Bijender Singh; Kalpaz Publications; Pp 263; Rs 890
It is a collection of twenty one eruditely written articles that articulate the plight of Dalit women buffeted by tripartite marginalisation of class, caste and gender. Contributors, to this anthology, have tried their level best to analyse and explore such variegated issues welling out of the autobiographical Dalit texts.