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Dec 01, 2010, 05.30 PM IST | Source: Forbes India

Book Review: First Draft by B.G. Verghese

Book Review: First Draft by B.G. Verghese - a chronicle of major events and key actors of past 50 years of India.

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First Draft is a journal of past 50 years of India and its key actors. It.is an account of the past half-century of the country as seen by B.G.Verghese; mostly as a journalist, briefly as information advisor to Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, and often as an activist.

In the preface to First Draft, Verghese says, “my reports and reflections from day to day were my story, a worm’s eye view of the world as it passed me by.’’ The view is of a person who stood by the ringside as events unfolded, shaping the history of India.

Verghese has systematically recorded how successive prime ministers, especially Indira Gandhi and her son Rajiv Gandhi, undermined democratic institutions and tore apart the fabric of the Indian society in pursuit of their narrow political objectives. He describes Indira Gandhi’s mishandling of the devaluation of the rupee in 1966 and how she felt let down by her technical experts, who could not anticipate the political fallout correctly. He vividly describes the Emergency.

Often, you feel that Verghese did not say enough. In his defence, he says himself that he had to cut out about 100 pages because his publisher complained it was too long. By no means is First Draft an exhaustive modern history; it is a chronicle of major events in a fledgling democracy.

First Draft: Witness to the Making of Modern India by B.G. Verghese

Tranquebar Press, Pages: 573, Rs. 695

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