Letter to BS: 'The Promise of India' review suffers from personal views


As the reviewer of my book is a friend whatever I have to say to trash his review (Facts about India's PMs, August 27) I will tell him in private. 

First the expression Nehru-Gandhi dynasty used by the reviewer. I have railed against this hyphenation and the loss of memory about Lal Bahadur Shastri at several places in the book. Nehru and Indira Gandhi were as different as day and night particularly in the way she promoted one son to be PM and then another. 

About the anti-Sikh riots, on page 124 the book mentions the names of others who held office in Delhi at that time such as Lieutenant Governor P.G. Gavai, Police Commissioner S.C. Tandon and Principal Secretary to Prime Minister P.C. Alexander. As for Rajiv Gandhi, the book blames him squarely as the head of government both on page 124 and again on page 149 in the following terms: "It defies belief that the Central government, which is responsible for internal security around the country, took four days to bring the violence to an end." Even a cursory reading of page 124 indicates that I do not suggest that Rajiv Gandhi should have taken some time off if he was grief stricken. The point made was that "if" he was completely devastated by his mother's violent death he should not have immediately accepted the many responsibilities that come with taking charge as head of government. 

As for the reference to Justice Jagmohan Sinha and V Krishna Iyer my learned friend Srinivasa Raghavan seems to have forgotten that we should not blame or praise individual justices only comment on their judgements and hence the book does not make this mistake. 

Lastly, I was careful in my comments about not just the governments led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Narendra Modi but about all PMs. Readers deserve objective analysis. I differ with the reviewer that there was just “dead-pan” recounting of events in the chapters on Vajpayee and Modi since, for example, analysis of events related to the UTI scandal and growth and unemployment numbers during the terms of these two PMs respectively provide fresh perspectives. 

The problem seems to be that the reviewer has strongly held personal views and the book’s research and analysis do not conform to them.

Jaimini Bhagwati, via email
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