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‘Everything is a broken tryst’

Columnist and writer Tavleen Singh’s new book traverses Lutyens’ Delhi drawing rooms, PM Modi’s parivartan politics and footpaths of urban India.

Written by Somya Lakhani |
Updated: April 20, 2016 12:01:02 am
delhi book launch, taveleen singh, columnist tavleen singh, PM modi, modi politics, India Habitat Centre, indian express talk, indian express Madhu Trehan with Tavleen Singh.

The leader of a democracy has an obligation to meet the media. When I met Narendra Modi to give him the book, I told him his media management is appalling. According to me, he’s making a big mistake,” said columnist and writer Tavleen Singh at the launch of her book, India’s Broken Tryst (Harper Collins, Rs 699). On Monday evening at the India Habitat Centre amphitheatre, Singh was in conversation with senior journalist Madhu Trehan about her latest work that oscillates between the lives of the rich and the poor, the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, drawing rooms of Lutyens’ Delhi and the parivartan politics of Modi.

Always sassy and straightforward, Singh didn’t mince her words as she fielded questions by Trehan and members of the audience. The book is a follow-up to Singh’s last, Durbar (2012). Trehan began the session with Singh’s observation of the UPA I and II, and Sonia Gandhi’s tenure in Congress at the time. “All the anecdotes in the book show how we have democracy on paper but it’s actually a hereditary democracy. In UPA I and II, Sonia Gandhi was the PM, we all know it,” said Singh, who is a columnist with The Indian Express. Apart from chronicling encounters and phone conversations with politicians, India’s Broken Tryst also gives a glimpse into the lives of Surekha, a jasmine garland seller on the streets of Mumbai, and her children who live on pavements; of young girls forced into prostitution; and of Ali, the idli-seller who has lost his livelihood to the “mooncipality”.

“Everything is a broken tryst and we haven’t acknowledged it. What needs to be reported is how bad this country looks even after 67 years,” said Singh. In attendance were veteran photographer Raghu Rai, designer Ritu Kumar, former politician Jaya Jaitly, author Sanjaya Baru and journalist Swapan Dasgupta.

The conversation touched upon several topics — from nationalism to beef bans, from the Dosco culture of Rajiv Gandhi’s time to “Lutyens’ Delhi being nervous about a PM who is an outsider” to how the process of decolonisation has finally begun. “The idea for the book came from Modi’s election campaign, where the emphasis was on parivartan. People are sick of the second-rate country,” she said.

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