After many years, the book remains a reference material for understanding our polity and society
Shishir Tripathi | May 15, 2018
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.
In the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, people of India have realized their collective strength, prime minister Narendra Modi said in a short video message Friday morning. He also urged people to light lamps Sunday night as a gesture of this collectivity. “Today marks nine days of the na
Demobilization, like its predecessor – demonetization, is another decision gone bad in implementation. In both instances a careful public administrative action through its governance systems could have saved the magnitude of impact particularly on the most vulnerable sections of the society. Th
In a bid to break the “chain of transmission” of the deadly Covid-19, India, a country with more than 1.3 billion population, observed a voluntary ‘Janata Curfew’ on March 22. This has been followed by a 21-day, nationwide lockdown from March 24. Prime minister Narendra Modi also re
To take speedy decisions on research and development for Sars-Cov-2 virus and COVID-19, the government has constituted a Science and Technology Empowered Committee. The committee, set up on March 29 and chaired by Niti Aayog member, professor Vinod Paul and professor K Vijay Raghavan, princi
Covid-19 may turn out to be the last straw that broke the camel’s back so far as the real estate sector is concerned. It broke out at a time when pundits were estimating the GDP to be hovering around 2.5% with unprecedent levels of unemployment. This itself was a good indicator that the real estate s
As COVID -19 cases continue to rise amid a 21-day lockdown, the centre and the states are proactively taking measures to provide aid to the underprivileged and the needy during this unprecedented situation. By Sunday morning, India had registered 27