From a critic’s desk

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Title of the book: The Descent: Essays and Reviews 2010-2021

Author: K. K. Srivastava

Publisher: Authors Press, Rs 295

KK Srivastava’s fifth book, The Descent: Essay and Reviews 2010-2021, is a perceptive collection of eighteen essays and twelve book reviews. Must read, written Swarn Kumar Anand

KK Srivastava, former Additional Assistant Comptroller and Auditor General of India, has been an accomplished poet, writer and columnist for almost twenty years now. The Descent: Essays and Critiques (2010-2021) is his fifth book: a collection of eighteen essays and twelve book reviews. The essays are about subjects who have “irritated” Srivastava’s “conscience” and “shaken” his “perception”. The reviews focus on books by personalities like Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Regis Bonvicino, Kurt F Svatek, Abhay K, Ajay Man Singh, Raj Kamal Jha, Sitakanta Mahapatra, Zafar Anjum and a few others.

In the prologue, we note Srivastava’s erudition very early on, in which he deplores “literary and artistic deprivation” in the places and among the people with whom he grew up. His literary journey has been a search for “a path not traveled” and The Descent is a step forward.

Out of eighteen essays, five: Mann Ki Baat: Aesthetic mixture of the flames of the spirits; Covid and opportunities for the renaissance of humanism; Modi, Public Will and Intellectuals Club; Women and a Just Society; In Relentless Solemn Pursuit of Good Governance and India no more ‘soft state’ edited by Modi are gripping commentaries, through Srivastava’s brooding and scholarly wit, on the personality, psychology and approach of Prime Minister Modi . Any review deserves good coverage of these, although coverage of other essays and books is also done.

Prime Minister Modi is a poet. Srivastava found Modi’s book of poetry, A Journey, (revised in the book) “evocative and poignant…and awakens the mind to flourish, grow and shine”. Similar to this Mann Ki Baat: totally apolitical movement, there is mass experimentation with the thought-sharing process of 138 million Indians. Srivastava refers to the work of psychologists John Radford and Andrew Burton on thinking where they discuss three activities (i) self-observation (ii) self-reports (iii) thinking aloud, and connects these three activities to “Mann Ki Baat”, assimilating with an “introspective contemplation”. In his essay, Srivastava highlights some illustrative aspects of Mann Ki Baat by eliminating some selected month elements.

Modi, Public Will and Intellectuals’ Club is a uniquely written essay in that it imposes a responsibility on anti-Modi intellectuals. These intellectuals must appreciate the electoral behavior of voters in the 2014/2019 elections revealing a collective desire for change and continuity. In power in 2014, Prime Minister Modi meant “change”, a shift. The party manifesto kicked things off. Modi believed in experimenting with growth agents. He knew the behavior of markets, producers and consumers. He had guts when he started making macro-socio-economic decisions in the general national interest. He knew people’s disillusionment with previous regimes and the reasons for that disillusionment. “Gujarat’s model of economic development has shown a pious path. It was also a clean path.

Criticizing the intolerance of intellectuals towards Modi and the BJP, Srivastava focuses on the crucial role assigned by the leaders of post-independence India to members of the coterie or “elite group” who were fiercely motivated by what John Kenneth Galbraith called it “vested interests”. People have a persistent tendency to protect what they have, to justify what they want to have. And their tendency is to regard as correct those ideas which serve such a purpose. They do not accept the New India of today where there is no place for the ‘coterie’, the ‘elite group’ or the ‘vested interests’. “True democracy does not reside in clubs of ‘elite groups’ and ‘coteries’, with a sense of kinship, but within the ordinary person who is a voter.” Fortunately, elite groups of intellectuals are not the means to democracy. The “average” of democracy is not just a number involving the number of votes obtained in an election, but a trust that the average Indian places in the leader and the party he leads. Indian society which is governed by democracy is largely based on the principles of trust. The voting system involves mutual trust and faith.

In Women and a just Society, the author analyzes philosopher Onora O’Neill’s thesis on the status of women in developing societies and comes to a conclusion: Modi’s “Emerging NEW INDIA” addresses the issue very well. by Onora O’Neill. The concept of a just society is firmly anchored in the multi-peaked idea of ​​a NEW INDIA.

Other essays on Prime Minister Modi are intellectually captivating and pragmatically crucial.

In Dissent, Disagreement and Davus Complex he expands on the importance of Hinduism as a philosophy and way of life which has tolerated many assaults during its long, vast, varied and peaceful existence, especially during medieval times. and modern, while keeping its homogeneity intact. , it continues to flourish in the heterodoxy of coexistence – the greatest symbol of its greatness.

There are thought-provoking essays on Naipaul and Nirad C Chaudhuri, the latter being sad because he noticed no emerging hands to stop Circe’s unbridled progress. Srivastava skillfully links Chaudhuri’s disenchantment with the India of his time with the present where massive attempts are being made to cleanse the system and evolve a better and matured society through special programs like Swachchh Bharat Abhiyan, aimed at cleaning up the roads, streets and infrastructure coupled with rapid adoption and absorption of yoga to enhance our mental, physical and spiritual abilities holistically and a host of other measures. Srivastava concludes optimistically “If Chaudhuri had been alive today and had written The Continent of Circe, he would certainly have been overwhelmed by the presence of a society of confidence, wisdom and confidence and would have written a superior, more positive version , certainly not with the title – The Continent of Circe. Fortunately now, “the great witch” will not be able to “see the entirety of her work”.

Coming to the book reviews, the author did the books justice. The reviewed books are A Journey by Narendra Modi, Beyond The Wall by the Brazilian poet Regis Bonvicino, the Austrian Kurt F Svatek’s Don’t Come Too Close To The Shore, Firaq Gorakhpuri The Poet of pain and Ecstasy by Ajai Man Singh, She will build him A City by Indian Express Editor Raj Kamal Jha, etc.

Srivastava praises, “metaphysical connotations, fabulously heightened imaginations and the zenith of emotional intensity” in Narendra Modi’s poetry book A Journey. Bonvicino asks the question “How old am I?” The author interprets it, the world of Bonvicino is a lost world, its recovery a work in progress…” The debatable question raised in the book on Firaq is “Only time will tell, how long Firaq Sahib will live in a rapidly changing society?” Srivastava compares Raj Kamal Jha’s book She will Build Him a City with Edward Albee’s The Zoo Story and concludes that “the book shows the future as a reality, a path”.

In short, The Descent: Essay and Critiques 2010-2021, serious in addition, restores a feeling of wonder, joy and fulfillment. A literary treat. A highly recommended book.


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