Book: Newsman: Tracking India in The Modi Era
Author: Rajdeep Sardesai
Publisher: Rupa Publications
The General Elections of 2014 in India saw the rise of a prime minister, who is, perhaps, only overshadowed by Indira Gandhi. Four years since the Modi regime, the country has witnessed events that shook the nation like no other- demonetisation, implementation of GST, cow protection laws and what not. From cow-vigilantism taking lives to protests in support of rapists, mob attacks on movies, terming every citizen questioning the govt. as ‘anti-national’, and the Hindutva brigades striving for a Hindu nation, intolerance in the country is at its peak. Newsman is a collection of articles written by Rajdeep Sardesai over these past four years in light of the above events/issues and more.
The book is divided into five sections, each constituting Sardesai’s articles analysing distinct aspects of the Modi govt. For example, while one section talks about today’s hot topic-nationalism and the drive to convert India into a Hindu Rashtra, another one talks about the ‘challenges before a ‘new’ India’ and the various scandals associated with the govt. Each article is followed by the author’s comment on its relevance now, highlighting what has/ has not changed. Throughout the book, we also get a glimpse into the life of Sardesai, not only as a journalist but as a father, a man who enjoys all festivals with equal fervour and who wears the tag of an anti-nationalist proudly around his neck. He ends the book on a ‘prayer for his country’, which coming from Sardesai was sub-standard and the content of the prayer, I feel, is quite far-fetched. (“Where a woman feels safe on the streets at midnight and can share public spaces with men without being sexually harassed“-seriously? )
The book in a way justified its title– it sheds a light on Sardesai’s life on being ‘the newsman’ at a time when the country is going through turmoils. All his articles are well-written, thoroughly engaging, and gives a commendable critique of the Modi govt. But the ‘Tracking India in the Modi Era’ would have made more sense to me, if the author had addressed the positive sides of the Modi era as well. Without it, the book seems more of a biased critique of the Modi govt, than a fair judgement, even though his criticisms were to the point and justified.
Modi is a made-for-TV politician—he is a terrific orator, has a narcisstic love for the camera and an uncanny knack to know what will make ‘news’
I would recommend the book to those who are interested in politics and like reading opinion pieces but might want to avoid it if you are looking for a completely unbiased read. Having said that, it is still a worthwhile read as it raises some relevant questions pertaining to the race to the big battle of 2019.
PS: I received a copy of the book from the publishers in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.