Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Book Review: The Writing on the Wall - India Checkmates America 2017

I'm currently reading "The Writing on the Wall - India Checkmates America 2017" by General Padmanabhan (Retd). It would be an understatement to call this book a disappointment. The grammar couldn't be worse, tenses are all wrong in half the paragraphs, spelling mistakes make their presence felt from time to time, there are too many "Given the right chance, Indians are second to none" cliches, and conversations (even the informal ones) between the characters are too dry and full of diplomat-ese to make them seem believable. Some parts of this book come across as political essays rather than chapters of a novel, and completely mess up the flow of the story. As if all this were not bad enough, the portrayal of politicians as resolute patriots who put the country before the party, the absence of inter-departmental rivalries, the development of a super-duper missile-defence shield by India which defends the country against a salvo of Tomahawk missiles launched by the USA, and the way in which things just fall into place for India make this book as believable as one of Karan Johar's movies. The shrill anti-American rhetoric only serves to make things worse.

But then again, there are some parts of the book that are so insightful and well-crafted, that they could only be penned by the hands of a seasoned soldier like General Padmanabhan. He illustrates very well what a determined India with a resolute and focused leadership and workforce is capable of achieving. His description of a "National Agenda" and a "National Defence Plan", research under military science & technology establishments free of corruption and bureaucratic hassles, the handling of internal unrest which results in peace in Nagaland, Manipur and Assam, and the Indian retaliation against Pakistani attacks hold many lessons for the country. But these scenarios are few and far in between, and given the current state of our politics, hardly realistic.

All in all, this is the kind of book one would expect Tarun Tejpal (of Bunker 13 "fame") to write. Coming from an ex Army Chief, and a very good Chief, I must say, this book is a huge let-down.

1 comment:

A-zee said...

Very optimistic chief. If the political and military forces are so focused then i wonder why India is not progressing well. Spelling errors of the book irritate the reader,not an attractive book.