Friday, January 4, 2019

The Paradoxical Prime Minister

Book Review

Narendra Modi has two faces: one which is turned backward towards the cobweb-ridden hoary past of the country and the other which is grandiloquently futuristic. He knows how to use each with the best results for himself. Shashi Tharoor’s latest book, The Paradoxical Prime Minister, dissects with clinical precision both the faces and the entire paradox conjured up by them.

The 504-page book is divided into 5 sections whose very titles are self-explanatory: The Paradoxical Prime Minister; The Modi-fication of India; Moditva and Misgovernance; The Failure of Modinomics; and Flights of Fancy. While the first section gives a fairly detailed biography of Modi from his difficult childhood to the royal present, the other four sections deal in detail with the eponymous themes.

In the Modi-fied India, the whims of the intolerant majority reign supreme. Tharoor shows why the Prime Minister should take “a large share of the blame” for the prevailing atmosphere of violence and persecution in the country. “The rise of gau-rakshaks, the assassination of rationalists, mob lynchings, episodes of beef-related violence, virulent attacks on all and sundry by BJP trolls on social media and in various public forums” are integral aspects of the Modi-fied India.

Good governance leading to achhe din was one of the many promises that got Modi’s party elected to power. What the country got, however, was sheer misgovernance with one bad initiative following another. Demonetisation and GST are two glaring examples which Tharoor dissects in great detail. There is much else to be said about Modi’s misgovernance and Tharoor has not minced words while speaking about each factor such as intrusive surveillance of people and the messed up Swachh Bharat initiative.

The Modi brand of economics has all but ruined the nation. Modi’s Gujarat Model was supposed to be extended to the whole country which in turn would become a utopia of sorts. Four years after Modi’s reign, each promise of the Prime Minister ended up as mere sham. The fourth section of the book shows how.

Perhaps the best part of the book is the last section which tears into Modi’s extensive and expensive foreign travels and his highly flawed foreign policies. He has made more enemies than any other Prime Minister did. Pakistan, Nepal, Myanmar, Bangla Desh and Maldives have all turned away from India after Modi became the Prime Minister. Tharoor shows us how and why this happened.

Anyone who is interested to know what Mr Modi has done to the nation in the last 4 years should read this book. It is eminently readable in spite of the notoriety that the author has earned for abstruse diction. Use a dictionary if need be, but read the book at any cost is what I would counsel to every Indian.


  1. Though i dont have much knowledge in politics neither i try to know but the truth is...if really something big progress would have taken place in last four years then i should have heard it.

  2. Perhaps the book needs to be translated into Hindi for the benefit of the Hindi heartland which forms the major part of the country...