Sunday, January 8, 2017

Durbar by Tavleen Singh: Criticism of Dynasties

Years back I had read a book called Political and Incorrect by journalist Tavleen Singh, which was a collection of several of her articles written for various periodicals. I loved her integrity after reading it and started following her articles through her twitter account. Now I got a chance to read another of her book Durbar, which is about the situation of our nation when late Rajiv Gandhi was our PM.


Durbar is a scathing criticism of Rajiv's tenure as Prime Minister and of the dynasty politics. Tavleen Singh establishes how most of his decisions and actions costed India dearly in home-front as well as in international arena. The book starts by explaining the situations during the assassination of Indira Gandhi and the infamous killings of Sikhs that followed. While it was declared that Rajiv was going to be the prime ministerial candidate, even after his justification of the killings, general feel among public and media was that he was capable of changing the course of our nation for good. But it was not to be.

Tavleen Singh

The book is a chronological account. It has the feel of a memoir and not that of a political discourse. This vastly improves the readability of the book. The author had personal connection with Rajiv and Sonia Gandhi and she is able to give a lot of insights into how their relationship worked. Her interactions with different players of the time and their perspectives makes it all the more interesting. I was impressed by her adventures inside the Golden Temple.

Another positive of Durbar is the objective stand that Tavleen takes. She doesn't criticise for the sake of it. I still felt the account just skimmed the surface of the time period and lacked depth especially while dealing with the case of Bofors scam.

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