Review : Narendra Modi – The Man, The Times by Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay

July 1, 2013

Author: Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay
Publisher: Westland
Year: 2013
ISBN: 9789382618478
Rating: ★★★½☆
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“…the catch line is simple; see a half-sleeved kurta and Modi comes to mind.”

Narendra Modi has been in the news for quite a long time – Godhra, “development man”, fascist and hero of Gujarat masses. And in this period of nearing elections and ‘who’s the next PM’ debate, this biography on Mr.Modi comes timely.

The author, who’s also a journalist, has taken great efforts to maintain a tone of neutrality throughout his narrative. The book starts with a history of the organization that influenced the building of the man, Narendra Modi. We get an insight into Gujarat, or rather Saurashtra, the situation post-partition; and the role of groups like Sangh Parivar in the making of present-day Gujarat.

Starting from Modi’s normal childhood to his humble beginnings in the Parivar to finally becoming an influential persona in national politics, the author traces the incidents and people who were all a part of the journey. Like Vakil ‘sahib’, a mentor and role model to the young Modi, and early friends like Sanjay Joshi, who shared the same passion once and yet tread different trails later on.

The highlight of Modi’s career – Godhra incident – has been written aptly, (no comments made by Modi or his followers) with an analysis on how it has affected his image and altered the psyche of people within and outside the Indian borders towards communal politics. The book does not shed any more light on the Godhra incident than the media and courts have already given out. Neither do we find any scandalous slander or misgivings that would have made a “juicy” read. What we rather find is an honest account of a man in a typical political setup, dominated by tact and power play, as expected. But what the readers gain is a view into all the essences of the making of Modi – family, education, friends and foes, work life and so on.

Mr.Nilanjan’s journalist touch surfaces at the extensive research he has done to construct this biography on Modi. He has spoken to people who have been a part of Modi’s life, not necessarily politically – like the Chauhan brothers who are behind the Jade Blue style house that feature the Modi kurtas and are considered his personal stylists. He includes anecdotes from Modi’s teachers, speaks to early co-workers in the parivar and villagers from Modi’s childhood. Not to leave out his pert questions to Mr.Modi himself that gives us a clear account of the man and his principles oft vague but seldom known.

To anyone interested in the current PM debates, or the development mantra around the Vibrant Gujarat, or just the man, this book is an opportunity to study the Modi phenomena in Indian politics at close quarters. And definitely a better study than the trending pro- or anti- articles (high on emotions) on the net that are much biased and less researched. Biography on young Mr.Gandhi anyone?

Related links
Efficiency, determination are Modi's strengths: Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay
An excerpt from the book

Shradha Shreejaya

Still figuring the exacts.Bibliophile by choice and student by nature.

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