Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Insider by P V Narasimha Rao - Eloquent commentary on Indian Political League

Long ago since I had read praises about India's 10th Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao - in a Gujarati general knowledge magazine Safari and in an article by a popular columnist Jay Vasavada - for his commendable work of ushering in much-needed economic reforms during 1991 to 1996 in a nation ravaged with financial crisis, The Insider - a fictional account of Rao's journey through Indian politics - had been added to a never-ending pipeline of my reading wishlist. In April 2014, amid high temperature campaign for the 16th Lok Sabha elections, my interest in going through literature that provides political insight reached its peak. Hence, one fine day I ordered The Insider in mid-April 2014, delivered to me by the Flipkart within 3 to 4 days. Although I haven't read The Outsider by Albert Camus yet, I was keen on going through mammoth book of fictional political memoir divided into 60 chapters and a short epilogue comprising of 833 pages ! Having started reading the book on around 16th April, 56 days had passed as on 10th June when I reached the end point.  

Before delving into the ocean of this brilliantly narrated political journey with an assurance of picking up plentiful pearls of a true nationalist's wisdom, let us mull over some interesting facts. The Gujarat Development Model of Narenadra Modi era that we are seeing today is actually a smartly customized emulation and adaptation of P V Narsimha Rao's economic model during his tenure as the 10th Prime Minister of India. Nonetheless, current Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi does deserve accolades for the vision he envisaged for Gujarat as several development schemes bore his stamp of insightful authority that lived up to the people's aspirations. Some interesting points emerged when I compared the three of the most important statesmen of our time : P V Narsimha Rao, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Narendra Modi. While P V Narsimha Rao ushered in the economic reforms in 1991, the subsequent change of guard at the Center between 1996 and 1998 triggered political instability in the country and the economy was in turmoil again. By the time Vajpayee took over as the Prime Minister and completed his term in 2004, the economy was booming again before it was left in tatters again during 10 years of the UPA regime. Now as we have Narendra Modi at the helm, with avowedly right-wing inclinations, there are fresh hopes of economic revival. Thus, it is to be noted that every time the nation has ushered into the era of economic reforms, subsequent governments have lurched towards the left and has undone the commendable efforts of previous government to revive the economy. Another point I noticed is that while the 2002 post-Godhara riots allowed the pseudo-secularists to launch persistent attacks in maligning Narendra Modi's image, the BJP did not shy away from declaring Modi as a PM candidate for the Lok Sabha elections 2014. Despite having passed through endless ordeals of intense scrutiny, investigations and legal actions surrounding Narendra Modi and his Gujarat government, BJP was brave enough to entrust him the job to sail through the stormy waters of Indian electoral process and emerge astonishingly victorious with an unprecedented mandate in the era in which it is believed to be impossible for either of the two largest political parties to rule the nation without cobbling up alliances with opportunistic parties. However, Congress seems to shy away from openly acknowledging P V Narsimha Rao's contribution in bringing the economic reforms in the country on the account of his lackluster approach in handling the law and order situation in Uttar Pradesh at a time when Babri mosque was being demolished by the members of Vishwa Hindu Parishad. The treatment meted out to Narendra Modi and P V Narasimha Rao by their respective political parties manifests itself in BJP's righteous judgement in emphasizing Modi's positive points over the downsides and the Congress's ideological blunder in giving cold shoulder to the contribution made by Rao. Today, Rao, father of the Indian economic reforms, is sadly sidelined by the Congress party and he is never referred to or remembered in any of the party's proceedings.

Let us now proceed to understand what lies within this book. The book has a protagonist named Anand (who is the author himself) born in a small village of a princely state Afrozabad (to be taken as Hyderabad state when it was ruled by Nizam before independence and when Andhra Pradesh was yet to be carved out). The novel depicts Anand's journey from being an outstanding student to rising as a rebellion against the atrocities of the Nawab, from becoming an MLA in the ruling state legislature to assuming the charge of the Chief Minister of his state for two years and creating storm at the central level with his spectacular work in the area of land reforms intended for well-fare of the poor and abolishment of inequality. The novel also narrates in detail about the governance pattern in the times of Jawaharlal Nehru and later his daughter Indira Gandhi, while briefly covering Lal Bahadur Shastri and Morarji Desai as well. However, this juicy novel with lucid political description does not include the five year Prime Ministerial tenure of the author himself; the part that I miss definitely. (I might have to rely on another newly ordered book titled Narsimha Rao, The Best Prime Minister? by Dr. Janak Raj Jai to be able to judge him in view of his achievements as a Prime Minister.) The book also discusses at length India's humiliating defeat against China in an uncalled-for war in 1962, and emphatic victories in subsequent wars with Pakistan in 1965 and 1971.

Not wanting to go into much detailed analysis of the plot, I would simply like to highlight some of the observations I doted upon:

(1) The Middle Class of the society

The middle class fell between these two extremes. (lower class and aristocrat class) The aristocracy derided them, the lower classes loathed them. They were culturally distinct from the masses, being literate and in some cases refined as well. They stood out in the life of the village. And some of them, the village officers for instance, were hated symbols of the king's authority. They often served as promoters of tyranny and conduits of corruption; they were themselves petty tyrants and corrupt to the core. All this only served to alienate them even more from the villagers they oppressed.  
(Page 11)

(2) Difficult access to girls in an orthodox society

There was one Girls' Middle School in the town - exclusively for girls, that is. It had a fleet of spacious bullock carts for transporting the girls to and from their homes. Purdah being strictly observed, each school cart had a curtain in front and another at the back. Since there was no direct visual contact, all assessment of the beauties inside the carts depended on the imagination of the schoolboys who chased the carts regularly. Anand was one of them. Whenever he happened to be walking behind a Girls' School cart, the girls inside huddled together to peep stealthily at him through the rear curtain and greeted him with admiring giggles. He felt flattered and a bit flustered. And somehow those laudatory signals seemed to give rise to an unknown and indefinable sense of elation in him; why and how, he just could not figure out then. It was happiness, but not just happiness; there was some other component. A definite change was coming over him, perhaps a bit before its time, as often happens with prodigies.   (Page 49)

(3) The mystery of marriage

He was not old enough to understand or analyse his future, but when he thought of any of the marriage ceremonies he attended by the dozen - particularly in the marriage season chosen as auspicious by the pundits - he was, as it were, beset with the question, 'What next?' There was no immediate answer, and like everyone else he went on to attend the next wedding. And the next...Then he would ask himself where the bride and the groom were from; how had they met in the first place, since they belonged to different places?

What would happen to them? What would they do after the pomp and the noise of the wedding subsided? What was the meaning of the bride being described as beautiful, lovely or average? Was anyone interested in the bride's beauty? And why only the bride's? And what did they mean by beautiful? What did beauty consist of, basically? These and many such questions appeared and disappeared in his mind. Answers, in bits and pieces, came from friends, relatives, and mostly from boys with similarly fragmented knowledge. Boys, however, never questioned girls about such things; they were prevented by an unspoken taboo. Anand surmised that there would be similar questions and answers in the minds of the girls.
  (Page 49-50)

(4) Loss of innocence 

When he walked through the lanes to his favourite swimming well outside the village, he sensed many young women staring at him from their doorsteps. Two years earlier they used to freely meet him as childhood friends, but now...God! How different he looked - different and manly! He too noticed a change in the girls, that went far beyond the physical; for one thing, they were all married and several of them would soon be leaving to live with their husbands. He could neither approach them as he used to do earlier, nor even summon enough courage to talk from a distance. The sense of approaching adulthood and insistent sexuality coiled around them like barbed wire. How much innocence they had lost - lost for ever!   (Page 82)

(5) Military action against Hyderabad

When the Central government finally moved, it did so decisively. It was obvious that the action would have to be perfectly executed, for it could easily spin out of control. From Sardar Patel's point of view, the state resembled an exquisite jamawar shawl trapped in a malignantly thorny bush. If you pulled it hard, it would come free, torn and tattered. If you did nothing, the thorns would pierce deeper and deeper into the cloth and damage it permanently. To free the shawl without ripping it to shreds, each thorn would have to be carefully prised from the delicate material. In the end, the Sardar executed the Central government's plan to perfection.  (Page 103)

(6) Ticket mania in Indian elections

The word 'ticket' is common to every language in India. But there are tickets and tickets. And those actively involved in the political process interpret a ticket as permission to contest an election as candidate of a given political party. The candidate, if elected, sits in the legislative assembly, or any other body for which he contests, as the representative of that party. The system being one of multi-party democracy, parties are its primary building blocks, although individuals are also permitted to contest as independents. Naturally, the scramble for party tickets is intense, and is often accompanied by inducements, both monetary and less visible, by candidates hoping to be selected. The attraction of a prized ticket are obvious - fighting an election on the ticket of the most popular party virtually guarantees the seat, barring last-minute reverses, of course. In the months preceding the second general election, Anand witnessed the 'ticket fever' - some ingenious word-coiner called it 'ticketaria'.  (Page 114)

(7) Devotion and Disillusionment

He visited Balaji's shrine in Tirupati and stood at the threshold of the sanctum sanctorum, in front of the magnificent idol. But when he was about to petition the Lord for guidance in his personal and spiritual quest, he heard the priest reel off the names of the maharajas who had donated gold and diamond necklaces to the Almighty. (This practice has been given up since). Anand's head began to reel too and he quickly left the temple... His visits to many other shrines proved equally barren. It seemed he would not find the fulfillment he longed for in God - especially in God's shrines. He had no interest in the formal, fussy kind of devotion in which faith is chocked by ritual. It appeared that God had been reduced to the position of a provider of services and fulfiller of a host of banal wishes - good health, wealth, success in examinations, destruction of enemies. Wholly disenchanted, Anand began to realize at last that the fulfillment he sought would have to originate within himself, as he negotiated the things that challenged his imagination and intelligence to the limit. Things that would provoke and stimulate his idealism, his will to demonstrate that intense idealism and dogged devotion to a cause need not depend on the crutches of evil to succeed; things born of his fervent desire to make a mark upon the world and transcend the pettiness and ordinariness of routine and demoralizing cynicism; things that would catalyze the expansion of his spirit into a pervasive empathy with the joys and sorrows of the people - fully invoking his childhood propensity to transmigrate into the figure of Hanuman, or anyone other than himself... And no matter where his mind and imagination wandered, he always returned to the one activity that most engrossed and engaged him - public service through the fascinating institution of politics. (Page 122)

(8) Media reporting of political events

Any wayfarer is free to kick in the teeth a person in power; the fellow is so vulnerable. Some compared the politician to a prostitute's breasts which everyone has the right to fondle just as he likes. Without exception, the reporters treated the drama of political and personal motivations and counter-motivations that unfolded in the state like a clash between captive beasts, meant only for the entertainment of the world. As if the whole gamut of government, ministers, chief ministers, power combinations, parties, manifestos, programmes, elections, successes, defeats, demonstrations, riots, firings, deaths... and a host of scenes involving the actions of thousands and the destinies of millions, was nothing more than cartoon material, to be laughed away and forgotten.  (Page 191-192)

(9) The common motivation of power

These were a few out of a legion. An incredible mosaic of humanity, each a different mix of hues from all the others. None of them was jet black. Nor was anyone snow-white. Grey was the predominant shade of their characters, their personalities. A kaleidoscope of diversity. The common motivation : power. The common point of unity : self. That was the game, by whatever name you chose to call it. (Page 206)

(10) The people's position in a political drama

The system would not absorb or accept original ideas, particularly when the ideas encroached upon the existing order - as Anand's did. To be sure, everything was done in the name of the people. In actual fact, the people figured in the political drama only occasionally - except during elections, of course. They were like the Hindu Deity who never touches the sumptuous food placed in front of Him, in His name. Eventually, the worshipper and the priest share it.

Could someone make the Deity eat the food Himself? And should this come about, would the selfishly motivated priests still come to the temple with lavish offerings not meant for themselves? The comparison wasn't wholly satisfactory, however, for temple deities obviously have no appetite. But the people have all the appetite in the world, unsatisfied since the beginning of human history. They wait for food, real food, but are only fed hollow rhetoric and empty promises... Could he, Anand, do something to alter this situation?
(Page 223) 

(11) Unchanging entity in a changing environment

Anand believed that after becoming a minister he had not changed in personality, in habits, in manner, or in the values he upheld. There, perhaps, he was out of step with others. When one is able to change with the changing situation, the relative change is likely to be less marked, less felt. However, an unchanging entity in a changing environment is apt to throw everything out of gear. Anand did just that, unwittingly perhaps. The prevailing order found it inexcusable. (page 230)

(12) The many fathers of success

Numerous new stars appeared on Anand's firmament too. Classmates galore, playmates and many other associates, real and fake, in various fields of activity. They sprouted from nowhere as if political power had worked as an overnight drizzle on parched land. (Page 232)

(13) Wagging tongues

From the age-old climate of strict purdah enforced until recently in the state, the sudden change to increased personal freedom began to be seen as indistinguishable from promiscuity. When people saw a man and woman together, any man and any woman, they would make barbed comments that reeked of sexual innuendo. Malicious tongues were desperately and subconsciously trying to violate social barriers by touching on this forbidden subject. It was gossip. It was scandal. It was a sudden release. For some it was also, perhaps unknown to themselves, a manifestation of repressed anger at the transgression of the accepted codes that prevailed from the beginning to the end of people's lives. They resented anyone breaking the shackles to prurience and inhibition.  (Page 247)

(14) Socialism

Socialism in the party was Jawaharlal's brain-child all the way. Several younger members of the party (who were nicknamed Young Turks) were indeed attracted to socialism. But they did not wield much influence in the party, which was dominated by established leaders. Some of their critics sarcastically remarked, 'Our brilliant socialist friends are absolutely unique in terms of popularity; you can't accuse them of having contested or won a single direct election so far!' This was true in those days. Yet the socialists had in their ranks several brilliant and devoted leaders such as Acharya Narendra Dave, Jaya Prakash Narayan, Achyut Patwardhan, Dr Ram Manohar Lohia, Asoka Mehta and many others, each of whom was highly regarded in his own right. However, they were unable to build a party at the national level and function as a united Opposition. Fractured by internal differences, the group broke up into the Socialist Party, Praja Socialist Party, Samyukta Socialist Party and other small groupings. Their immediate impact began to dwindle soon, and they only came into prominence much later, during Indira Gandhi's regime. (Page 318)

(15) Jawaharlal Nehru

  • Whenever he was in jail, he produced writings of permanent value, each remarkably solid and lucid. Many said that when Jawaharlal was in jail, literature gained, and when he was out of jail, politics. (Page 428)
  • Non-alignment, the scientific temper, mixed economy, socialism, the concept of a commonwealth of independent republics, the public sector, the advent of national laboratories, the birth of the Planning Commission and the Five Year plans, disarmament and economic cooperation among nations, the abhorrence of war, the role of the United Nations Organization, the establishment of the Akademis of literature, music and dance and art, the institution of national awards - a never-ending sequence of thoughs and images crowded Anand's mind. (Page 429)
  • He gave us lofty ideas, great personal example, remarkable deeds, unmatched respect in world councils, elaborate physical infrastructure, firm ideological anchorage, something to look forward to...yes...yes...YES! But where is the human inheritor of all this? He has made a glorious place for himself, but where will his successors take the country? (Page 429)
  • Then there was the 'anti-Nehru' group, labelled thus for want of a more accurate description. They had been with Jawaharlal; most of them were as loyal to him as anyone else. Only, they could never reconcile themselves with what they called his flighty dream-world, his impractical approach to problems, his illogical vision. The group called him names behind his back but agreed with him to his face. They even praised him to the extent necessary to keep up appearances and keep detractors at bay... (Page 439)
  • Military conflicts with Pakistan made matters worse in India. Nehru's supreme effort to weld the nation into a secular entity did succeed to a considerable extent. Yet that success was almost solely due to his personal charisma. Hindu suspicion of the Mulsim minority increased to such an extent that Nehru's constant struggle to establish the secular ideal had often drawn derisive comments. One such remark, attributed to a senior leader, was that the only nationalist Muslim in India was Jawaharlal Nehru!... Thus, Nehru became the sole crusader for secularism, while many other leaders, both Hindu and Muslim, only mouthed secular slogans with little conviction. The secular ideal appeared to be solid and pristine, but was not fully effective. The reason was obvious: the presence of a separate country across the border, as a living monument to the two-nation theory and the outright negation of secularism. Thus while secularism became India's creed under Jawaharlal's tutelage, it did not have a stable axis or a dependable foundation. The nauseating anti-India tirade from across the border increasingly complicated the situation. It was clear that the leaders of Pakistan were more interested in India-baiting than getting on with their own urgent task of nation-building.
  • It was not easy to bring about a completely secular atmosphere on the Indian side. During the worst days of the communal riots, Nehru had gone into the affected areas and accosted rioters personally - confronting aggressive bullies, catching hold of stabbing hands. Stories of such personal courage were widely circulated, but did not succeed in curbing the violence or inspiring other people to follow Nehru's example. One such anecdote described how Jawaharlal, moving in a riot-torn area of Delhi one day along with his daughter Indira, saw someone suddenly grab Indira's arm and pull her towards herself. Furious beyond words, Nehru slapped the fellow. The man calmly rubbed his cheek, smiled a tragic smile and said, 'Panditji, if you could fly into such fury over what I just did, what would you expect me to do after what was done to my wife and sister in Lahore?' Panditji allegedly burst into tears and apologized to the youth. (Page 453-454)
  • As a free nation, we chose parliamentary democracy on the Westminster model. Many people said it wouldn't work, but Panditji and his colleagues asserted it would. Nehru argued this elaborately in his speeches and writings. He talked the people into accepting the model. As long as he lived, he nurtured the model and tried to weave grassroots democracy, economic self-reliance and planned development into it, based on secular nationhood and the concept of unity in diversity. He reasoned out every complex detail and harmonized it with every other complex detail. He made the resultant amalgam look remarkably simple and natural. Looking back, we know what happened after him. We have seen the gradual crumbling of what he tried to build and sustain with his persuasive personality... I sometimes believe that when Nehru died, his legacy was split into two. Both Indira Gandhi and the so-called Syndicate were part of him, albeit harmonized parts. The two parts separated and are struggling for supremacy. Keeping personalities aside, this is the state of affairs today... The two parts cannot come together any more; they cannot coexist mechanically, they can be together only in harmony. And after Nehru, the harmony vanished, for want of the cohesive factor. (Page 657)

(16) Lal Bahadur Shastri

New centres of gravity appeared in the states. Chief ministers gained in power and influence. The Prime Minister, by contrast, appeared pliable; however, no one said so openly. Lal Bahadur was a stalwart in his own right, Jawaharlal's right-hand man. The whole country respected him as a humble, sincere and gentle soul. He had given proof of his moral fibre years before, when he resigned as minister of railways in Nehru's cabinet, consequent on a railway accident somewhere in the far south. Many tended to look upon the resignation as bordering on the absurd. It stretched the area of a minister's ethical and moral responsibility to ridiculous lengths. Some critics ridiculed the idea, saying, 'At this rate, brother, the Union cabinet will become a railway platform where ministers keep coming and going like trains!' 'That's an understatement!' chipped in another. 'In fact, the only activity in the Union cabinet will be resignations and swearings-in everyday! And home ministers, in particular, would have to change every hour, considering what's happening on the law and order front in the country all the time...!' 

Depite such snide remarks, Lal Bahadur had effectively, through personal example, established the principal of moral responsibility, based on the Gandhian approach. That reputation, however, proved inadequate to give him effective authority as Prime Minister. The contrast between Jawaharlal and Lal Bahadur was so striking, it overshadowed their similarities. Their kinship in thought was itself far from clear anyway. The cosmopolitan, the visionary, the mass leader, the writer, the aesthete, the scholar, the historian, the scientist, the 'Chacha' figure - Lal Bahadur reflected none of these. The people saw him as a trusted lieutenant of the former Prime Minister; therefore, only a shadow. His own substance remained largely unproved. Undoubtedly, he was a Gandhian; but when the anti-Nehru group appropriated the Gandhian seal and stamp, he became nondescript. He was a good follower, but an indifferent interpreter of policy. And one who is a mere follower, howsoever good and faithful, cannot lead the country as Prime Minister for long... (Page 440-441))

India was fighting under a leader whose gentle image seemed incongruous with the brutality of war. (Page 468) (Referring to a war between India and Pakistan in 1965 when Lal Bahadur Shastri was the Prime Minister)

(17)  Bade Sahib and a carnival of carnal desires

He had begotten fourteen children by four wives, one of whom was a non-Muslim before he married her. He could also boast a considerable number of progeny on the side, with different labels of paternity. In his youth, which apparently extended well beyond sixty, many village women had enjoyed his amorous attentions. The village abounded with convenient nooks for liaisons, and he had made full use of them. A standing corn crop; the secluded platform of a machaan erected to scare birds away when grain began to ripen the cobs; a grassy dip between mounds of earth rimming an irrigation well; an inviting clearing in the midst of a thick cluster of plants taller than shrubs but shorter than trees. To be fair to him, he was not the only stud in the village. He was just one of several incorrigible characters known for their lead roles in an ongoing sexual carnival. And in all this feverish activity, no discrimination on the basis of religion had ever entered anyone's mind. (Page 452)

(18) The President of India

The President of India is a Constitutional authority. He is comparable to the King or Queen of England, with one important difference. The succession to the British throne is hereditary, while in the case of the President of India, it is by election. A limited electoral college consisting of members of parliament and the state electoral college consisting of members of parliament and the state legislative assemblies elects him. The President has no real political power, yet his position has the highest prestige and honour the nation can give any individual. The government's decisions are all issued in the President's name. He is the commander-in-chief of the country's armed forces. He 'appoints' the Prime Minister, ministers, judges of the Supreme Court and the High Courts, governors of states and a host of other very high functionaries in government. He accepts the credentials of ambassadors of foreign governments. He addresses the houses of parliament, to expound on what 'my government' proposes to do - even if that actually amounts to reading the 'address' prepared for him by the government. And most important of all, he is looked upon as the eldest in the family, the father figure whom the government headed by the Prime Minister looks to for advice and guidance.
(Page 514-515)

(19) Lok Sabha, Jaslok Sabha and Parlok Sabha

'Take it from me,' Mirza assured the group, 'the minister over there, whispering to that male lady member will get admitted to the Jaslok Hospital in Bombay in a day or two...'

'From Lok Sabha to Jaslok Sabha, you mean?' quipped Chowbe.

'Surely better than the Parlok Sabha, isn't it?' punned Bedi. (Page 542)

(20) Indira Gandhi
  • She was loved in some countries, hated in others, feared in a few, but respected everywhere. Atal Bihari Vajpayee, a prominent leader of the Opposition in the Indian parliament, referred to her as Durga and Kali. (Page 640)
  • The 1972 election to the state assemblies brought another grand victory to Indira Gandhi. It was as though the people had at last found their destiny in 'Amma'. They genuinely believed that they could now sit back and watch her solve their problems one by one- or even all at once. They were in for disillusionment, regrettably. And, as always happens, the more intense the euphoria, the deeper - and quicker - was the disillusionment. Since Indira had reached the pinnacle of her glory, she couldn't go any higher, some said. To be precise, others clarified, she was doomed to fall. (Page 647)

(21) Quotable Quotes from the book

The fall of the brilliant one, friend or foe, gives rise to a subtle, indescribable ripple of joy in many human hearts. (110)
Socialism is a system that makes all people equally poor. (133)
There is no person more detestable to a newsman than a tight-lipped politician - a tribe which generally talks too much. (193)
Individual embarrassments are too trivial to make you run away from your duty to the country and the state. (211)
Coming to you is like milking a he-buffalo! (212)
He remembered that someone had defined 'top secret' as a secret that leaks from the top! (217)
You don't stare at the sun directly at midday, whatever your pique. You wait for the sunset. Or for a cloud thick enough to obscure the glare.  (230)
You deal in coal, as they say, so you can't hope to keep your hands lily-white all the time. (275)
In this country, politics is, in a manner of speaking, the perennial topic of discussion everywhere. Someone said that when two strangers meet, they talk of the day's weather and the next day's cabinet reshuffle! (299)
There is no person more pathetic than a retired bureaucrat who has wielded uninterrupted authority while in service, has really enjoyed it and suddenly finds himself reduced to a nobody upon retirement. (313)
What the country has always had, despite varying vicissitudes, is cultural integration. The British tried to destroy it, but luckily, great Indians like Vivekananda, Sri Aurobindo and Gandhi saved it. We have to build on this mixed foundations left over from a series of historical and colonial ravages. (323)
We never tire of talking about a casteless society, but always try to derive an electoral advantage from every caste situation. (327)
He had stepped off the uppermost rung of the ladder and then kicked it away from under him, as almost everyone does in political life. (337)
There is a maze of devious motivations operating behind my back. (349)
Out of death, life is born afresh and individuals and nations who do not know how to die, do not know also how to live. Only where there are graves, are there resurrections. (385) (Taken from Nehru's Discovery of India)
Like the proverbial drop of water on lotus leaf, Anand had exercised power and yet remained untouched by it - at once a participant and observer. (438)
The Prime Minister of India needs nerves of steel and a body of cast iron. Nothing less will do. (444)
Weeds grow in the absence of good farming practices, don't they? (597)
When you put your head in the mortar, as they say, how could you avoid the blow of the pestle? (690)
Politicians should bend their heads for the wave to pass over. (760)
It is indeed amazing how jealous the bureaucracy feels about its hierarchical ladder. One whose appointment happened to be in the forenoon places himself virtually as senior by a full century to another who was appointed in the afternoon of the same day! (803)
When you arrive at the pinnacle of power, the inevitable result is the preoccupation to retain it. Nothing is more important. For this you make compromises with the forces of the status quo since you want the status quo now. (831)

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