So, so many feels while reading this book! I never expected to feel so emotionally charged up at a non-fictional work, and that too a work on politics.
I have so much to say but considering I don’t keep myself up to date with current affairs and these days, its not a safe space to comment about the government anywhere, I’ll only be commenting on what I felt reading the book.
Why I chose this book?
I have been meaning to read this one since a long time. Most Indians have a special, soft corner for Dr Singh ever since he was the PM of India and I being one of them also wanted to know more on this ‘accidental’ PM via this book. If you are clueless about what I am talking about, Dr Singh was part of the Congress Alliance that won the elections in 2004 and since Mrs. Gandhi was/is the Congress party leader, a PM was expected from her familial dynasty. After all, that’s how Congress has functioned over the years. However, due to various reasons, Dr Singh was the chosen Prime Minister, the one we didn’t know we needed.
What is it about?
The book is written by Sanjay Baru, who acted as a media advisor for Dr Singh during his tenure. He was specifically contacted by the erstwhile PM to hold this position that, in his words, the PM created for him. Quoting from the book – “offered him the job with the words, ‘Sitting here, I know I will be isolated from the outside world. I want you to be my eyes and ears. Tell me what you think I should know, without fear or favor.” So, this is an account of Mr Baru’s time with the PM. You can also read more about Mr Baru’s accolades and his background on Google.
What I liked about the book?
I read the book for a reason. I usually find it hard to read non-fiction books and barely read anything on politics, so I had a hard time with this too. However, I would say it was way easier than other non-fictions because this was a topic I wanted to read about. As I moved towards the end, I was invested too much and there were instances where I was overwhelmed with emotion. I have always had respect for Dr Singh, for the way he has conducted himself. However, this book made me way more acquainted with how much of a learned, intellectual man he is and how it is our misfortune that he is not leading the decision making for country. He had served as finance minister in the early 90s government and it is the result of his initiatives that liberalization happened for the Indian economy, which opened a lot of doors for private jobs in India. It is due to those initiatives that many of us from service class background have an amazing lifestyle today. He has always been a growth-enabling, forward-looking person and even in his tenure as the PM, he had many such initiatives in his kitty. The book talks about them during his first tenure (i.e. 2004 – 09) primarily, since that’s when Mr Baru worked with him. He also talks a lot about the challenges he faced because of not being the party leader and the center of party power residing with Mrs. Gandhi and also how he had to navigate the likes of the Left and other parties because this was a coalition government. Despite many hurdles, this was still the highest economic growth rate that the country witnessed (8-9%), even though it was the time of global crisis (2008-09). I loved reading about how much depth Dr Singh had for planning for each of his decisions and policies but what shined throughout the book was how passionate he was about seeing the country grow.
Another thing in the book that I loved knowing was that Dr Singh came from humble beginnings and whatever he is, its because of his academic background and how passionate he is about education being the key to all. It was heart touching and from whatever little peak we got, his family, wife and kids, seemed to have academic backgrounds too.
What I didn’t like?
I wished to read more on his tenure of 2009-14 when he was put in a questionable position due to his cabinet ministers corruption and other scams. However, the book touched upon that very briefly. While I would have thought this to be intentional, its also key to note that Mr Baru only worked with him in the first tenure, so he had an ‘in’ on mostly that.
Overall, I am glad I read this book and I would recommend it to everyone.