By Ishaa Srivastva
Author: Shashi Tharoor
Publishing House: Aleph Book Company
Hardcover: 492 Pages
Price: ₹ 695
Shashi Tharoor’s India Shastra is a collection of 100 riveting essays that aim to explore the colossal gamut of India’s state of affairs, from the perspective of late 2014. It concludes a de facto trilogy of his work, the antecedents to it being India: From Midnight to the Millennium and Beyond (2000), and The Elephant, the Tiger and the Cellphone (2007). The book is divided into eight sections, each dealing with a different facet of India’s contemporaneity. In the wake of the recent general elections, when BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) took over with a staggering margin, Tharoor has naturally devoted almost the first two sections, to scrutinising Modi’s government. The essays that follow, examine serious concerns that afflict the nation, internally or globally, and act as a chronicle of its digital, economic and sociopolitical transformation.
Few essays are peppered with some his own experiences, like his engagement with the ministry, Twitter controversies (of course!), and his work as an official of United Nations, amongst others. To those familiar with Tharoor’s writing, some of his aphorisms ring a bell, while others seem refreshing: “Where imagination is usurped by imitation, no one wins”.
He may have drawn flak from party members after praising Modi for his initiatives like ‘Swaccha Bharat Abhiyan’ (Clean India Initiative), but his essays are not implied eulogy, in fact quite the opposite- they bring out the “hypocrisy about rhetoric and action (that) has characterised virtually every policy decision that the BJP government has taken so far.”
Whilst claiming that the downfall of Congress is “greatly exaggerated”, he goes on to enlist an eight pointer suggestion on how his party can resuscitate from the catastrophe of the general election. Tharoor has also devoted an essay exhibiting Manmohan Singh’s accomplishments.
India Shastra makes for a mandatory read for those who need an immaculate understanding of the complex and crucial debates in our country today.