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Columnist, author and political commentator, Aakar Patel has long been a close observer of the political scenario. In Price of the Modi Years, he seeks to explain the data and facts on India’s performance under Narendra Modi.
Modi’s predecessor as prime minister, Manmohan Singh, had once said that Modi would be a disaster as prime minister. This book shows how. It concedes Modi’s popularity; this is an accounting of the damage he has wrought. It is the history of India since 2014 assessing the damage across the polity from the economy, national security, federalism, foreign relations, legislations and the judiciary to media and civil society.
Our memories are not long, news cycles are transient and incidents are forgotten or misclassified as being only episodic, unless documented, unified and placed together as a record. And therefore this book—a history of these present times.
India has taken so sharp a turn in recent years that the very centre has shifted considerably. What led to this swing? Is it possible to trace the path to this point? Is there a way back to the just, secular, inclusive vision of our Constitution-makers?
This country has long been an outlier in its South Asian neighbourhood, with its inclusive Constitution and functioning democracy. The growth of Hindutva, in some sense, brings India in line with the other polities here. In Our Hindu Rashtra, writer and activist Aakar Patel peels back layer after layer of cause and effect through independent India’s history to understand how Hindutva came to gain such a hold on the country. He examines what it means for India that its laws and judiciary have been permeated by prejudice and bigotry, what the breach of fundamental rights portends in these circumstances, and what the all-round institutional collapse signifies for the future of Indians.
Most importantly, Patel asks and answers that most important of questions: what possibilities exist for a return? Thought-provoking and pulling no punches, this book is an essential read for anyone who wishes to understand the nature of politics in India and, indeed, South Asia.
This is a unique collection of brilliant non-fiction writing, translated by well-known author and journalist Aakar Patel, from the subcontinent's greatest writer: Saadat Hasan Manto.
In this extract, Manto’s essays discuss the dispute over what should be the official language between Hindi and Urdu, politicians, Partition and riots. He wrote these essays around the time of partition and yet the issues are alarmingly relevant today as well.
After the Supreme Court’s order of banning firecrackers in the run up to the festival of Diwali in Delhi and NCR, a raging debate ensued about tradition vs. modernity or protecting people’s right to breathe. In this brilliant essay, Saadat Hasan Manto is at his farcical best and highlights the same issue which raged 70 or more years before this latest one – about firecrackers!
Even as India and Pakistan celebrate 70 years of independence, Saadat Hasan Manto is at his sarcastic best in a story titled, ‘A Stroll Through the New Pakistan’:
‘Is this Bagh-e-Jinnah?’
‘No,’ I said, ‘this is Lawrence Bagh.’
He laughed. ‘It was renamed Bagh-e-Jinnah after Partition.’
‘Pakistan Zindabad!’ I said to him. He laughed louder and went into the park. I felt I was just coming out of hell.
The author moved to Pakistan post Partition, but in this story makes it amply clear what it meant to live in a new country that he had chosen as his own.
‘Save India from its Leaders’ reflects Manto’s genius as he reminds us even seventy years later about the archetypal politician in the country: ‘These people, who can’t even run their homes efficiently, and whose character is lowly, want to straighten out the country and lecture us on what is right.’ A story by one of 20th century’s greatest writers, Saadat Hasan Manto, from a collection of his non-fiction writings (Why I Write), translated from the Urdu by the well-known journalist, Aakar Patel.
Saadat Hasan Manto declares that he was forced
to write when his wife routinely demanded
that he put bread on the table for the family. He doesn’t attribute any genius to his skills as a
writer and convinces his readers that the stories
tossed a salad. Equally, Manto treats his tryst
with Bollywood with disdain and unmasks the
cardboard lives of tinsel town when a horse is
painted to double up for a zebra or multiple fans
rotate to create a deluge. Two of Manto’s favourite
and recurring themes – women and Partition—
bizarre morality in the context of feminine
beauty and the futile presence of religiosity in
the creation of a nation he was to adopt later in
greatest writer, translated by well known author
and journalist, Aakar Patel showcases Saadat
Hasan Manto’s brilliance while dealing with life’s
most mundane things -- graveyards, bumming
from mythology – and a sharp dissection of what
ails the subcontinent even after 6 decades—Hindi
or Urdu, vile politicians and the hopelessness of
living under the shadow of fear.