“Being in politics is like being a football coach. You have to be smart enough to understand the game, and dumb enough to think it’s important”Eugene Mc Carthy (1916-2005), American Democratic Politician
Recently, when Rahul Gandhi travelled abroad just before the foundation day of the Indian National Congress(INC), there was a hue and cry in the media and other social media platforms criticizing him for not being serious about Indian politics. But honestly, he also needs a holiday break. In fact, in this book he tells the authors that he goes abroad to have some personal space as he is constantly surrounded by security and the people in India. Reading the interviews of these young political leaders makes you feel that they are also common people just that they are in the business of politics which is the most demanding job in the country.
The book is about the prominent young political leaders who will shape the destiny of India in the coming years. The authors interviewed 20 young political leaders below the age of 50 from across the country and compiled those interviews as it is in their original voices. The interviews include those from Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi, Sachin Pilot, Akhilesh Yadav, Poonam Mahajan, Varun Gandhi, Omar Abdullah, Aditya Thakeray, Smriti Irani, Jignesh Mevani, Sushmita Dev, Kalikesh Singh Deo, etc. All these interviews were conducted in person. These young political leaders come from different political parties and with a completely different background. These conversations show their perspectives on important issues of the country and their thinking, inspiration, and passion that motivates them to be part of the Indian political system. As authors of the book added in the introduction that the idea behind this book is to give readers a ‘snapshot of contemporary Indian politics and its future; through the stories of 20 of the country’s most prominent next-generation politicians’.
The interesting thing about this book is that these conversations are free-flowing, and authors have posed the questions as they seemed okay without any hesitation. The book attempts to unravel the personalities, aspirations, ideologies, interests, passions, and motivations of these young political leaders. The idea is that we know the names of these leaders and frequently read or see about them in the newspapers or televisions, but we have no idea what lies behind it. Reading this book makes me realize that these young politicians have done a lot of hard work to achieve whatever they have achieved in their political careers despite coming from political families. For most of them, political career had come with a big personal cost. Not only this, as authors of the book add, ‘Politics in India is a full-time job’ and the political leaders can’t maintain a healthy work-life balance.
However, the authors have missed many other important young political leaders who are already contributing in a significant way of shaping the destiny of Indian republic. For instance- Arvind Kejriwal, the current chief minister of Delhi and also the founder of the Aam Aadmi Party is a major miss in this book. However, the authors also added that the list of leaders interviewed in this book is not exhaustive and many other prominent young leaders have not been added in this book.
The interesting thing about the book is that we get to know the personal sides of these young leaders and how there is also dissonance in their political posturing and their personal views on issues related to the Indian political system. For instance- Varun Gandhi has a liberal economic and social outlook despite being part of the Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP). Aaditya Thakeray belongs to Shiv Sena political party that is known for extremist views, has a more liberal outlook than most other leaders on many different issues. Jignesh Mevani has a very different political attitude as compared to people like Sachin Pilot & Jyotiraditya Scindia who have been trained in politics from an early age. Women political leaders across party lines reiterated the presence of gender-based challenges they must face in this profession. While interviewing these young leaders, the authors have explored the issues and tensions prevailing in Indian politics. The authors tried to see the issues of caste and religion, institutional decline, federalism & center-state relations, integration of J& K, dynastic politics, and women empowerment.
The book has 319 pages, but it’s written in simple language and easy to read. I also felt that the authors could have added more young regional political leaders to know their personalities, aspirations, ideologies and interests. Currently, the book has leaders who are more prominent and popular than those who are grassroots workers and making a difference at ground level.