Raag Darbari : Fifty years of the song of court

After many years, the book remains a reference material for understanding our polity and society

shishir

Shishir Tripathi | May 15, 2018


#Politics   #Shrilal Shukla   #Raag Darbari   #Books   #Book Review  


Idealism of youth often meets with an anti-climax. And when that happens one surely gains perspective. In 2003, when I first read Raag Darbari by Shrilal Shukla, which was part of self-education curriculum, I cringed at the ‘cynicism’ spread on those yellowing pages.

At the ingress of youth, the most fascinating term was change and most dislikeable was, by all means, cynicism.
However, with time I gained perspective and the book became one of my favourites.

Twelve years on, now, while reading the book again, I can only marvel at all what Shrilal Shukla wrote and many among them; in spite of exuding deep cynicism speak ironies in volume.

In the very first chapter when Ranganath’s high ideals— emanating straight from college life— get a slap of dusty reality, we start getting some timeless gems.

“The present education system is like a pariah bitch lying in the road, whom anyone can kick,” writes Shukla, when the owner of the truck, which is defined by its purpose of creation that was to “rape the roads of India”, gives Ranganath lessons on education.

Raag Darbari with unrelenting harshness dismantles each and every stereotype that has defined Indian villages and small towns. While the running theme of the book is continuous juxtaposing of infallible ideals and faltering realities, it also does a great job in portraying the human frailties.

Can an illiterate and poor truck driver afford the high ideals of an educated man who is on his ‘change-the-world-vacation?
Can a system defined by nepotism, corruption and unreasonable disparity allow a common man to live on sheer ideals.

Gillian Wright who translated the book in English in his introduction wrote, “Politics and government are the two main themes of the novel. Uttar Pradesh is India's most politically dominant state and it's often said that politics is the state's main industry. Shukla describes politics at the grass roots, but much of the factionalism, nepotism and behind-the-scenes manipulation he portrays is familiar to anyone who follows events through the national press. UP's highly developed bureaucracy, the author's other main target, is satirised for its irrelevance to the common man, inefficiency and close connections with politicians”.

The narrative woven by Shukla is microcosm of what is played at national level or for that matter in politics anywhere. The book relies on satire to convey the message. Local traditions, customs, life style helps in presenting meanings that strike the chord of narration at right place.

The book completes 50 years of its publication and we are under great social and political transformations. In spite of this it remains a reference material for understanding our polity and society.
 

Comments

 

Other News

On a personal note: DIVINE

An underground rapper who grew up on Mumbai streets, Divine spins his music around his environment and poverty. His breakout single, ‘Meri Gully Mein’, along with fellow rapper Naezy caught Bollywood’s attention. The Hindi film ‘Gully Boy’ is inspired by their lives and gr

The role model for an IAS officer

Anil Swarup, an IAS officer of Uttar Pradesh cadre who retired in 2018, is a model bureaucrat who retained his optimism right till the end of service and exemplified dedication and commitment. His excitement at the opportunities that a job in the IAS provided is evident on every page of his new book publis

Reform of the civil services: At home and away

The question of reform of the civil services has been debated extensively at all levels at least over the last five to six decades after independence. Indeed, it was soon perceived that the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) may not be well equipped to deal with the problems of an emerging developing coun

The greatest challenge for any government

Shouting vengeance at all and sundry while wriggling out of holes of our own making seems to be our very special national characteristic. Some recent instances are illustrative of this attribute. A number of business tycoons with thousands of crores of unresolved debts have fled abroad with the government

The mysterious case of CBI’s legality

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) came into existence, based on a Resolution of the home ministry, dated April 1, 1963 – a sheer coincidence that it also happens to be April Fool’s day. Over the past few months, we have seen the CBI live up to its founding day with great zeal, being i

The Evolution of Modi

Gujarat was passing through a turbulent phase in the 1980s. The decade began middle class agitations against new reservation policies, and the caste friction turned communal under the watch of chief minister Madhavsinh Solanki, alienating majority of urban population on both counts. The ground was ripe for

Current Issue

Current Issue

Video

CM Nitish’s convoy attacked in Buxar

Opinion

Facebook    Twitter    Google Plus    Linkedin    Subscribe Newsletter

Twitter