The 90s was an interesting era to have lived your formative years in. There was no social media, no internet, not much of a cable TV. We would watch TV news, videotape news and much later NDTV and Aaj Tak along with a handful of news channels, shaped our political and worldview. We would read newspaper, magazines and listen to the discussions that our parents and family friends would have on the state of affairs.
DEVILS ADVOCATE BOOK
Karan Thapar’s show and his column used to be one that I would attentively follow. The way he spoke, his mannerism, were all so attractive and one would aspire to be like him, like Prannoy Roy or Rajat Sharma, S.P. Singh or Vinod Dua. One saw respectful debates between the likes of Madhav Rao Scindia, Rajesh Pilot, L.K. Advani, Atal Ji. It was unlike today where only the person who can speak the loudest and repeats the same without having any substance in the arguments, wins.
But, many from this generation will not remember the political discourse that occurred then. Karan Thapar’s In Devils Advocate book review was a trip down the memory lane. Remembering those times and reliving them was unexpected. The Agra Summit and the expectation with which my Nani and I sat glued before the TV and then the Kargil attack. I did not expect a semi-autobiographical work can be nostalgia for its readers also.
But, call it my naivety or the fact that not much is revealed of people and how they became successful, one only presumes that hard work results into success. How untrue it is can be seen after reading Mr. Thapar’s book. One can easily see his connections in the Lutyen’s circle, his proximity with the ruling class and that he had all the right opportunities. Not many could claim so much access as he did in the formative years of his career.
One cannot deny the struggle that he probably had to undertake or the sudden death of his wife and the current state of being banished by the ruling party (quite a contrast to the manner in which he had been treated up until UPA-II).
He has spoken variously in several chapters, how he broke the trust of many of his interviewees. I am sure not everyone or everything is revealed and that he has practiced selective amnesia, where he has only focused on the topics and tried to justify his actions. Maybe he is only clarifying and not apologizing because of his allegiance to his profession and professional conduct. It is understandable that one owes that much to their profession but then when you become friends with someone, when do you cross that line of trust your friendship ‘imposes’ upon the two of you. I could not find a satisfactory answer to it.
I do recommend the Devils Advocate book, however, it’s an easy read and has anecdotes which are interesting although, questionable. I still feel that the Lutyen’s debate has been unnecessary considering that the coterie always remains, only the allegiance, the members of the coterie and the address changes. Maybe it’s not Lutyens anymore, maybe in times to come, I will be reading an Arnab Goswami biography on similar lines. That’s the funny thing about life, glamour, and power. One just doesn’t know how to deal with it when it is gone. At best, an autobiography comes in handy to massage those whom you rubbed the wrong way.