I heard about — and bought — this book right during the Indian General elections of 2014, at a time when the end of Dr Singh’s administration was almost in sight, Modi’s soaring win was seen as inevitable.
Manmohan Singh is someone I have lot of respect for. He is a sound economist, practical politician and focuses on development as well as on growth. He has been at the helm of India — either as FM or PM or External Affairs Minister — during landmark events in the history of post-independence India. So what happened during his second stint? Why was he increasingly been seen as a string-puppet?
This book seeks to provide a balanced view of the author — who saw, in closer quarters, Singh operate. He job was that of a media adviser, but also mediated several events, brokered transactions and closed deals — which gives us a closer look of some things unwind in the capital.
The book has 13 chapters and then an epilogue. To give the bottom line first, the first 10 chapters is pure patronization and trivia. When it is not patronization, it is a blow-by-blow of administrative and political events — the outcome of some of which we may know.
The real crux of this book is in the last 3 chapters where he talks about Singh’s role in ending the “nuclear apartheid” — which basically means joining India to the Nuke Club — and everything that went into it. Local politics, coalition dangers, dirty tricks and external interferences/ biases on one side, Singh’s own clarity of thought in Foreign Policy and perseverance in pursuing this matter on other side — it is a spell-binding story of how decisions happen in New Delhi.
These 3 chapters alone make a very interesting read — giving a view of domestic politics as well as politics of several world leaders, including Bush, Rice, Biden, Kerry and so many others in the political, administrative and diplomatic circles.
At the end, I realize it is his hopeless loyalty to the party and party leadership, which caused him to exit at the lowest point in his career. But we didn’t need this book to tell us that, did we?