Monday, March 30, 2015

24 Akbar Road by Rasheed Kidwai

Image result for 24 akbar road bookRasheed Kidwai is a veteran journalist who has witnessed the highs and lows of the Congress. He has been a witness to the venerable history of the Congress party from the inscrutable Indira Gandhi to the earthy Sitaram Kesari and now the prince in waiting Rahul Gandhi.

In 24 Akbar Road, the author takes us through the power corridors of the Congress. Its leaders, their lives, gossip and history. When someone recommended me this book then I was immediately on the back foot as I was not interested in the encomiums showered by some sycophant, my fears were allayed by the author. He puts forward an almost unbiased and honest account of Congress leaders, although he refrains from criticizing the Congress or its leaders too harshly.

The book begins with perhaps the most colossal leader of the Congress, Indira Gandhi, the woman who defeated Richard Nixon, genocidal Yahya Khan, Bhindrewala and even managed to check mate Henry Kissinger. Daughter of one of the most important founding fathers of our nation, Indira Gandhi was an automatic choice for the throne of the Congress after Nehru died. She would later have to fight rebellion in her own party and form the Congress(I) which was headquartered from the now legendary 24, Akbar Road. Indira Gandhi also had the dubious distinction of imposing emergency in the country and suspending democracy for a whole of 2 years. Indira Gandhi was both a force of good and evil. Her human rights record and imposition of the emergency would continue to remain a blot on the history of Independent India. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Party by Richard McGregor

Image result for the party richard mcgregorChina, the last bastion of the communists. Who had imagined that almost after two and half decades of the fall of the soviet union the communist party of China would survive? not only have they survived the CPC, Communist Part of China, has thrived. They effectively control the world's most populous and powerful state. The Party is a secret club of a select few, its tentacles are spread to all walks on life in China from the state controlled media, to the economy and the Army. The Politburo members are not elected by the citizens of China but are selected internally by the party, making China a single party system with no elections and no democracy. China is in a lot of ways an Oligarchy.

The book keeps the majority of its focus on economics and how China evolved from a third world struggling economy to the economic power house it is today. A myriad of Chinese leaders starting from Deng Xiaoping, Hu Jintao and Jiang Zemin have been successfully able to transform China into what it is today. Chinese ingenuity and their passion for making money was the real factor behind this success.