For those who grew up in the seventies and the eighties, political gossip of the old world in India is still so delectable. Those pre-neoliberal, pre-satellite TV politicians had an intrigue and star-quality that any amount of trivia on them made us crave for more. In fact, those years were not just about India, but also about the ruling elite in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal. All of them had a similar allure that was appealing to us.
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Return to Book Page. Preview — Durbar by Tavleen Singh. Durbar by Tavleen Singh. A revealing account of our political past that holds crucial lessons for today's India In the summer of Tavleen Singh, not yet twenty-five, started working as a junior reporter in the Statesman in New Delhi.
Within five weeks, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi declared the Emergency, suspending fundamental rights and imposing press censorship, and soon reckless policies sai A revealing account of our political past that holds crucial lessons for today's India In the summer of Tavleen Singh, not yet twenty-five, started working as a junior reporter in the Statesman in New Delhi.
Within five weeks, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi declared the Emergency, suspending fundamental rights and imposing press censorship, and soon reckless policies said to be authored by the prime minister's younger son were unleashed on India's citizens. As the country suffered under the iron fist of an elected icon and her chosen heir, Tavleen observed that a small, influential section of Delhi's society people she knew well remained strangely unaffected by the perilous state of the nation.
Before long, members of this circle were entrenched in key positions in the Indian government. In , following Indira Gandhi's assassination, Rajiv Gandhi became prime minister, fortified by a huge mandate from a nation desperate for change.
But, belying its hopes, the young leader chose for himself a group of advisors, friends and acolytes from the drawing rooms of Delhi, as inexperienced as him and just as unaware of the ground realities of a complex nation.
It was the beginning of a political culture of favouritism and ineptitude that would take hold at the highest levels of government, stunting India's ambitions and frustrating its people well into the next century.
Seasoned reporter and distinguished newspaper columnist Tavleen Singh's Durbar is a sharp account of these turbulent years. Describing the Nehruvian era of her childhood, the Emergency of her youth and the political shifts that followed, Tavleen writes of the birth and evolution of insurgencies in Punjab and Kashmir, the blood spilt in assassinations and massacres, of crises internal and external and the clumsy attempts to set things right.
A remarkable memoir, vivid with the colour of election campaigns and society dinners, low conspiracies and high corruption, Durbar rewards us with this truth: that if India is to achieve a better future the past can no longer be ignored or forgotten.
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To ask other readers questions about Durbar , please sign up. See all 3 questions about Durbar…. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 3. Rating details. Sort order. Start your review of Durbar. Sep 28, Savi rated it really liked it. And the lines, " it all began with Rajeev" ironically came alive. Durbar is a fascinating and disturbing tale of how independent India lost almost six decades of it's development to dynastic politics, to the whims and fancies of politicians who have proved to be worse than their colonial counterparts and how the Indian national congress became family property of the Gandhis.
The author couldn't be more honest. Her account isn't a personal reflection or theoretical conception but a memoir replete with facts. It's a brilliant composition where the reader is not shadowed over by her views but let free to decide.
Durbar is a must read for anyone, a common Indian citizen who at times keeps wondering what went so fundamentally wrong with our system? But generations and generations of politicians have made promises and failed to deliver. This is one of the most powerful books of the decade and an absolutely sharp read. View 2 comments. May 22, Ashish Iyer rated it it was amazing Shelves: indian-author , indian-politics , read , information , ebook , non-fiction.
A good book to read for someone who is interested in Indian politics written from a journalists point of view. Durbar is a first-person account of some of the most impactful incidents that took place at the hands of the Central Government. It begins with an account of the Emergency in , when the author began her career as a reporter then followed story of Gandhi's family. He was accused of following nepotism in the corridors of power, and was associated with many controversies such as the the anti-Sikh riots, the Bhopal Gas tragedy and the Bofors scam, which served to tarnish the impeccable image of the Congress in the days to come.
Durbar really provide inside story of politics. This book basically unmasked the Gandhi family and dynasty politics. I do not understand how people who had no clue of what India really is and did not understand the problems our country faced and how to solve them. Our country was ruled by people who did not deserve to rule us.
Really good book. Everyone should read it. View all 3 comments. Nov 16, Vijai rated it really liked it. I had come to know about this book when I watched an interview of Ms Tavleen Singh on a youtube channel.
The way Ms Tavleen Singh went about presenting her side of the story and answered the questions was a good enough reason for me to buy this on FlipKart. My observations. What I liked: One, reminded of my childhood listening to my maternal uncle recount his experience through the emergency and the later decades following it.
I somehow found that connect with this book as Ms Tavleen Singh ha I had come to know about this book when I watched an interview of Ms Tavleen Singh on a youtube channel. I somehow found that connect with this book as Ms Tavleen Singh has filled this book with so many personal anecdotes stitched to the major events of post-independence Indian history that as a reader one would find themselves glued to this book.
Two, last but not the least, one must bow and applaud this dare devil of a lady for the kinda work she has done. I don't want to give away too much but in the book the author recounts a particularly close call she had with a certain bad person in a very dangerous situation which gave me goosebumps just reading it.
Hats off. What I did not like: Just one, way too many people mentioned. I am sure there is a reason for the inclusion of so many people but at some point in time, it was distracting me from enjoying Ms Tavleen Singh's core message. Closing thoughts: In the end, I believe it falls upon us - the so called X-gen - to ensure we listen to our stalwarts such as Ms Tavleen Singh and understand how our country came to be as it is.
We owe it to all those innocent people who died for it, unwittingly and maybe even unwillingly in communal riots when those whose job it was to stop them stood by and watched it all happen, either for want of capability, motivation or just maybe plain sincerity; an analysis and diagnosis of that problem is the core message in this book. Four stars. Buy first hand please. Jun 16, Arun Divakar rated it it was ok.
One of those unsolved mysteries of India to me has always been how democracy has survived so long in this country. Mine is a relatively small state in the map, an area of 15, square miles with 14 major districts included in it. There is only one spoken language called Malayalam but it is spoken in countless different tones and slangs that an outsider would be perplexed to put it mildly!
Now apply this to the lar One of those unsolved mysteries of India to me has always been how democracy has survived so long in this country. Now apply this to the larger states like Bihar or Madhya Pradesh and you will understand the enormity of this nation and the complexity that will face any government or central agency. It is this vastness and diverse nature that also protects democracy in this nation for no two states or no two sets of people think alike.
The problems are as different as chalk and cheese. The Maoist insurgency in the northern areas does not spread to the others, the secessionist forces at play in Kashmir cannot spread its effect elsewhere, communism in Kerala and Bengal does not find a foothold in any other states are but minor examples of how India makes life difficult for ideologies and political forces. There is however one dynasty that everyone knows in India : the Nehru — Gandhi family.
The seeds of dynasty politics began with them and the rest is part of the history of post-independence India. To begin, I can say that the content of this book is what can be termed as immensely readable. Economically the country was grumbling and moaning on its path along, foreign direct investment was frowned upon, external affairs policy was about being a satellite of the Soviet Union and there was strife from within. The state of emergency remains a very dark and disturbing chapter in the history of this nation and at the center stage of this tragedy was Sanjay Gandhi.
In the state of Punjab, Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale began the demand for the separate state of Khalistan and violence was unleashed in the aftermath. At the same time, the seeds of armed insurgency were sown in Kashmir. The stage was then set for the political entry of the prodigal son : Rajiv Gandhi. India again went through a period of turbulence which included charges of corruption, the rise of religious fundamentalism and a terrifying end to the most charismatic PM to ever lead India.
Take a look at this broad spectrum of topics and you could write volumes on them. This is not to say that these leaders are beyond criticism but the entire course of the book is set on saying Indira Gandhi did not do this or Can you imagine Sanjay Gandhi did this? It makes tiresome reading and is heavily biased in content.
Durbar : An extremely interesting book
Durbar / Tavleen Singh.
By Faiz Rehman. Political enthusiasts, students and commentators are a funny breed. Fiscal deficit? We need to know. Defense acquisitions?
To the manner born: Tavleen Singh on her new book, and Sonia Gandhi
A great dane lounges in the garden outside, while a mastiff named Brumby and her desi companion amble over to check your credentials. Read: Tales from Delhi Durbar. You desist. Singh reminds you of a formidable aunt who might, any moment now, bite your head off for some minor infraction. So you put on your best respectful-younger-journalist disguise and steer talk to less incendiary subjects.