Politics Decoded (Book Review - The Dormant State by Dibya Satpathy)
The Dormant State
Author: Dibya Satpathy
Aniruddh Mishra is a misfit in a society in which there is a fixed path that the young are expected to follow in their life. He is clear about the unconventional choices he wants to make that would lead him to the world of politics.
Circumstances help him in paving this path.
He has friends who stand by him, he people who support and mentor him.
Aniruddh is an idealist, yes. But he is a realist too. He understands the truth about the shallow relationships in politics very quickly... actually a little too quickly.
'Be Careful of what you wish for because you just might get it.'
The Dormant State is the story of politics in the volatile state of Odisha, and in the age of fleeting associations of coalition government.
Politics is complicated. Things are not as they seem.
The beginning of The Dormant State is something that I can expect to hear in a rather 'intellectual' discussion on Indian Politics. And I love it -
"If Darwin was to live today, this great country of ours could have given him eternal pleasure. There could be no other place in the whole world that would justify the theories of survival."
Emotion takes a back seat in The Dormant State, as the harshness of politics rules. Much as the personal lives of Aniruddh and others play an important part in taking the story forward, they never dominate the scene.
Aniruddh Mishra was born in a middle-class family in mid 1980s. A time when, in author's words, India was just recovering out of the image of a country of 'snake charmers'.
Dibya Satpathy has a knack for describing things to the tee in a few words. I enjoyed reading his description of the India of 1980s.
The Dormant State is almost as much a story of India as it is of Aniruddh Mishra. From when Aniruddh is born in mid-1980s on, the author chronicles the changing scenario of Indian society and thinking.
The narrative of The Dormant State is chronological, moving from one event to another, at times almost clinically.
My one angst while reading The Dormant State is some sweeping statements made by the author while explaining certain situations. I have issues with generalised statements as a rule. So read it as an opinion, not a fact; read it as if you would read an editorial or listen to a discussion on TV, and it is fine. It is a viewpoint, not a matter-of-fact truth.
"Being rude and disconnected was the secret of his survival - the more inaccessible you are, the more they want to approach you. The more you behave like a king, the more servitude they owe you. Yes, such has been the effect of two hundred years of Imperial rule.
We love to be ruled. Period."
"Displacement of the tribal population and environment concerns over the proposed chromium mining made the west go weak in the knees. It was considered gauche to be insensible to such issues. Out here, in our part of the world, nobody gave a damn. The west could afford such idealistic luxuries and flaunt their social fecundity. Not us."
The Dormant State reads as much like a political commentary and a societal history of its times, as a work of fiction about the life of Aniruddh Mishra.
Reading The Dormant State is like watching a behind-the-scenes of the drama of politics that we see being enacted that impacts the life of millions.
In the documentary We Steal Secrets about Wikileaks and Julian Assange, there is a mention of 'noble cause corruption'. It is explained as "essentially, you do things which if anyone else did you would recognise aren't ok, aren't right, but because you know you're a good guy, it's different for you."
"It is not very difficult to be famous in a land that has so many shades of confusing characteristics. Nobody is a hero or a villain here, it is circumstances and social equations that make or break your character here."
Is that what the 'murky world of politics' does to the good? Do they have to stoop to the level of those they are fighting to correct the wrongs? Is there really no way out?
These are the questions asked and explored in The Dormant State.
The author has described this book perfectly in the prologue -
"It is a story about few young men who enter this wilderness and shun their true characters gradually, before becoming masters of the same system they once despised. It captures a series of events that shape the ambitions of a young man who sets out with noble dreams and revolutionary ideas of changing the system."
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The italicized text in quotation marks are quotes from the book.
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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Aniruddh is a non-conforming, spirited, unorthodox young man, bound by the shackles of tradition. Brought up in one of India’s poorer states – he experiences first-hand, through his middle-class upbringing, the gruesome realities of governance in the country. His youthful exuberance and provocative circumstances leave him with no option but to take on the system. On entering the murky world of politics, he is forced to confront with evils, which he hadn’t bargained for. The events in his life leave his relationships at peril as he lurches along the forlorn lanes of insecurity. His transformation from an honest novice mutineer to a guile political leader brings out the layers in his character. Amidst strained relations, friendships that turn ugly and back-stabbing foes, Aniruddh has to govern a dormant state and win over the masses.
The climax is a gripping tale of sinister moves and counter moves that end up bringing out the devil in him in a moment of self adjudication.
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