- Hardcover: 448 pages
- Publisher: Bloomsbury Press (24 June 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9781620406083
- ISBN-13: 978-1620406083
- ASIN: 162040608X
- Product Dimensions: 16.7 x 3.8 x 24 cm
- Average Customer Review: 9 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #10,81,154 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Rogue Elephant: Harnessing the Power of India’s Unruly Democracy Hardcover – 24 Jun 2014
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“[A] revealing panorama of Indian politics...Avoiding clichéd notions of India as either South Asian super-tiger or eternal basketcase, Denyer's sharp-eyed reportage and analysis convey both the size of India's problems and the strength of efforts to remedy them.” ―Publishers Weekly
“Forthright, fair and frank reporting.” ―Kirkus
“[A]n accurate view...Denyer has reported well out of India.” ―Washington Post
“A riveting account not just cataloging the last decade's tribulations but also optimistic signs that ordinary citizens throughout the country are finding their voices, demanding change, and being heard...this book is important for scholars of Indian history and culture as well as general readers seeking understanding of recent events in that country.” ―Library Journal
“Mr. Denyer has doggedly covered many of the stories that have dominated India's headlines in recent years, and his thorough reporting is on display here.” ―Wall Street Journal
“Denyer offers a careful and thorough examination... he gives a rich and varied portrait of India...Rogue Elephant's take on Indian democracy is varied, complex, and fiercely independent, characterized by a dogged refusal to give in to common generalizations or the readymade interpretations of India's political parties. This approach allows Denyer to create an original and illuminating portrait.” ―Foreign Policy
About the Author
Simon Denyer was the India bureau chief for the Washington Post. Previously, he has been the Washington bureau chief for Reuters, he ran the Reuters bureau in India, and he spent two years immediately after 9/11 doing the same thing in Pakistan and Afghanistan. He is editor of Foreign Correspondent: Fifty Years of Reporting South Asia, an anthology of writing about the subcontinent. He has made frequent TV appearances in the United States and India, and also worked as for Reuters Television as an anchor and correspondent. He spent more than four years covering East Africa for Reuters out of Nairobi, and has also worked in New York, London, and Paris. He currently lives in China as the China bureau chief for the Washington Post.
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Top customer reviews
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Coming to the content, this book is a bigger disappointment. Coming from a Washington Post and Reuters correspondent, one would expect a keen sense of history, good analysis of events, and sound conclusions. Instead what we get is 400 pages of plain recounting of events (mostly what newspaper readers know). It is like a reporter submitting his report to the editor after his daily beat.
I thought foreign journalists were professional in their work, do their research well, are largely disinterested in their conclusions, and spare no pains in unearthing facts. I was wrong. What is the use of all that hard work, research and data if the very sources of their information are biased, misguided and even crooked?
Mr Denyer seems to have relied mostly on NDTV-JNU-Leftist sources for his information and research.
He seems to have a high regard for India's first PM (page 9). Did not his sources educate him about Nehru's blunders that have ruined India? On the same page, Sardar's Patel role in integrating Hyderabad into India is briefly mentioned. Is not Denyer aware that Nehru was opposed to Patel's use of force?
Nehru's list of failures is too long to be listed here but Mr Denyer should have known the following:
- Nehru rejected the offer of a permanent member status to India at the UN. He ensured that China got it instead.
- Nehru was reluctant to act against the Nizam of Hyderabad who wanted to merge with Pakistan. Patel and his secretary acted without Nehru's
knowledge and saved India. This is dealt with very softly in the book. Was it lack of information or was it intentional?
- When the people of India wanted to rebuild the Somnath temple that was destroyed (for no reason other than barbarism) by the Muslim
invaders, Nehru felt it would hurt Muslim sentiments! Oh really! If you rebuild your house that was burgled or attacked, would it make sense to
say it will hurt the burglar?
- Ambedkar wanted to extend reservations for Dalits only for 10 years. The fool Nehru extended it beyond that limit just for his personal
popularity. This is one of the biggest (if not the biggest) reason for India's backwardness in almost every field today.
- He took the Kashimir problem for UN mediation because of which it festers and bleeds the country to this day, making Kashmir one of the
most dangerous flashpoints in Asia.
- When China attacked India's North East in 1962 and massacred close to 40000 people, this dandy womanizer declared in Parliament "it is just
a barren land, not a blade of grass grows there". As someone joked "his head is completely bald, not a blade of hair grows there, so why does he
- He always mollycoddled the seditious Chief Ministers of Kashmir because Sheik Abdullah was the son of his father's mistress.
- He appointed his sister to the UN. So much for his integrity!
- He made Padmaja Naidu the governor of a state just because she was his paramour.
- He made his cousin Kaul the army chief who had no clue when the Chinese attacked and was largely responsible for our defeat.
All the above are well known to the public but Mr Denyer, a journalist, seems to be unaware of them! Reason: His primary source of information are people like Ramachandra Guha, the leftist "intellectual" whom many Indians hate.
He also seems take counsel from Bipan Chandra, the leftist writer of history textbooks. No wonder, his judgments are wrong.
He also seems to rely a lot on the NDTV crowd like Barkha Dutt, the lady who supported terrorists like Burhan Wani in Kashmir. It is common knowledge why Hillary Clinton lost all the NRI votes in the 2016 election. The moment NRIs in the US saw Barkha Dutt hugging Hillary, they decided who they were going to vote. Is Mr Denyer ignorant of all this?
He gives all credit for the 1991 economic reforms to the wimp Manmohan Singh, where as in fact it was entirely due to then PM Narasimha Rao who stood behind Mr Singh who sent in his resignation thrice when he was criticised by the opposition.
He says on page 12, the Nehru family's is entwined with India's democracy for good and ill. One wonders, what good?
His description of the Emergency period 1975-77 is cursory at best. To say that it was Indian democracy's dark hour (page 11) is a cliche. So many atrocities were committed and so many killed and tortured... if only Me Denyer cared to ask the right sources. If Nehru destroyed the foundations of the nation, his daughter destroyed its Institutions, even the judiciary, which is the last resort of the common man in a democracy. The institutionalised corruption that we see in India today from top to bottom is a result of her style of functioning.
Regarding the Gujarat riots of 2002, he writes (page 340), Hindus were killed in the Godhra after "they clashed with Muslims". This is a plain misreporting. The Godhra train burning was a premeditated murder.
The only thing of interest in this 400-page drag is an anecdote on Manmohan Singh's "integrity". Mr Singh was not willing to accept donations for his election campaign, but did not mind if the donors handed over the cash to his wife! (page 84)
The subtitle boasts "harnessing the power of India's unruly democracy". Huh, what harnessing did Mr Denyer show?
Overall this is a very good book to read to analyse the success (and failings) of the existing democratic functioning. The only thing I wish the author had done was to finish and publish this book after the 2014 General Election. A lot of his observations, to some extent have proven unfounded as a result of this election (of course, for no fault of the writer whatsoever!)
In short, this is well worth a read!
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