One step more

POWER TO THE PEOPLE (Roli, Rs 495) by Aruna Roy with the MKKS Collective chronicles the birth of the legislation that, in several ways, changed the functioning of the Indian democracy. The prose of the book is evocative and its language lucid. Nowhere is there an iota of pride about the considerable achievements of this group. The pride lies elsewhere; there is a sense of deep admiration for the struggles of ordinary people and how this has shaped the country into what it is today.

  • Published 8.06.18
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THE RTI STORY: POWER TO THE PEOPLE (Roli, Rs 495) by Aruna Roy with the MKKS Collective chronicles the birth of the legislation that, in several ways, changed the functioning of the Indian democracy. The prose of the book is evocative and its language lucid. Nowhere is there an iota of pride about the considerable achievements of this group. The pride lies elsewhere; there is a sense of deep admiration for the struggles of ordinary people and how this has shaped the country into what it is today.

The book celebrates the fundamental principles of democracy, highlighting the significance of pluralism and participation for any free country. It holds out hope - something that is hard to come by at a time when majoritarianism and mob frenzy have become the order of the day - that India can once again become a vibrant and inclusive nation if only its people show the grit of holding their elected representatives to account. Yet, as Gopalkrishna Gandhi points out in the Foreword, those who dare to speak up are at constant risk. Greater awareness about the Right to Information Act and its crusaders, which is what the book aims to achieve, might be the only way to eliminate this risk.

THAT BIRD CALLED HAPPINESS: STORIES (Speaking Tiger, Rs 350) by Nabendu Ghosh has been edited and translated by his daughter and journalist, Ratnottama Sengupta. For anyone who has watched even one of the films in which Ghosh worked as a scriptwriter, the roundedness of each of the characters in this collection will hardly come as a surprise. Whether it is the leading lady or her lady-in-waiting, each one of them reveal myriad shades. This is quite an achievement given that some of them have just a few direct dialogues. The appeal of these stories lies in their simplicity and in the cinematic settings. Sengupta has done a laudable job with the translation. There is a hint of lyricism in the prose, yet it is shorn of all embellishments.

THE GLASS HOUSE: A YEAR OF OUR DAYS (Rupa, Rs 295) by Chanchal Sanyal tries to capture the vicissitudes of a modern-day couple living in Delhi. M.B. and Roshni have finally managed to buy their own apartment but their troubles have just begun. What could have been a commentary on how conjugal relationships and aspirations of the middle class have been shaped by globalization turns out to be a dreadfully boring read instead. Sanyal's prose is staccato and his characters wooden and clichéd.

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