Book Review: Young Turks
Author: Krishan Partap Singh
(This is the first book of the Raisina Hill series. The second part – Delhi Durbar – has already featured on my blog earlier)
This story is about 3 friends – who are as alike as Chalk and Cheese. You are not likely to find a more varied set of best friends than Azim Khan, Karan Nehru and Raj Mehra; three people differing in just about everything to do with life, everything! And yet, somehow, they become friends – a friendship which turns out to be a defining one for India in the fullness of time. The staid, hardworking idealist Azim Khan, the incorrigible & rambunctiously exuberantly aggressive Karan Nehru, and the balanced & smart go-getter Raj Mehra grow up into 3 men, and get into 3 careers as different as their natures. One a financial wizard and business king, one a decorated Army Officer, and one a high-flying international journalist of considerable repute and formidable skills in political analysis and news .
Strange are the ways of the world; equally strange, if not stranger – are the moods of fate. Who would have thought that these 3 gentlemen would get into careers that intersect? Finance, Psephology and Armed Forces… and yet, that is precisely what happens, as Ms Fate and Mr Luck meet, get married, and cause a right royal whirlpool in the 3 gentlemen’s minds and lives. One gets affected by rioting; one gets affected by homesickness, and one gets affected by a war wound… leading to their career paths intersecting in the due fullness of time. Young Turks is about the evolution of these 3 interesting, absorbing, and fascinating characters’ development into seasoned Indian movers and shakers in the political arena. One gets an elevator, one decides to do it the hard way – with decency and unity as planks, while the third – Raj – gets back home, where he feels he belongs, and gets into Indian Media. A defining intersection, this – for it paves the way for many an eventful happening in their lives, propelling them, and India, into topsy turvy times, periods of meteoric rise as well as despair, as they rise in fame in the political world… India will never be the same again…
First off, the series is a one-of-a-kind for reasons I cant even hint at, as it will spoil your fun; I have never read such a beautifully intertwined set of stories as this. Park this thought at this point: I shall connect it up in the review of the 3rd book – The War Ministry. The beauty of the first 2 books lies in the fact that they are standalone novels, and complete in their own way. Yet, the commonality of the intersecting characters make it clear that the events in the second book happened during the first book; this enables us to truly understand, after reading both, as to what the political atmosphere was in New Delhi as our Young Turks were rising – and this is what gives a deep insight into the story. All loose ends are connected up in the third book, which is why I say – park this thought here. Suffice it to say that the plot is unique – absolutely unique.
You are taken deep into the dirt of politics, where only survival matters; and in such a brutal atmosphere you have our young turks with their idealist viewpoints and approaches battling it out. To make matters more interesting, Azim and Major Karan’s views are the exact opposite on all matters political – which is not a recipe for a healthy friendship. Not in politics, at any rate. And it is in this awesome byplay that you can spot the brilliant and perfect character development; each persons views, attitudes and opinions come across as a logical extension of their mental make-up and life experiences- there is not a jarring note anywhere in all the 3 novels. The author has made a profile of a person, and stuck to it throughout without deviations – through 3 full novels, which is a tremendous achievement. You can see Raj, Azim and Karan maturing, and developing; and yet, their development is along the lines of their basic constitutions – a balanced Raj; an aggressive Karan and an idealist Azim.
The book is a page turner, unputdownable. You will want to read it again and again; I myself have read it twice already – and want to read it again! Adding spice to this is the sporadic sprinkling of genuine sarcasm and humour that will bring a smile to your lips. The story, the plot and the characters grow in you; and you start to identify with them. The flow of the story and the twists therein create a suspense in your mind; and you end up wanting to peek ahead to see how it turns out. A word of advice: don’t. Don’t take a peek! You will regret it. This is an engaging and thrilling political ride, with a powerful message at its core – the one borne by Azim Khan : Ek India, Ek Desh, Ek Log. Savour this ride; it tells a tale… a tale of rising above caste identities and religious affiliations…
It tells a tale of success of idealism, of strategies and planning, of unity and of courage through Azim Khan; it tells a tale of aggression, attacking, loyalty and exuberance through Karan Nehru; it tells a tale of balance, out-of-the-box thinking, of Media-Poltics connections and of sheer presence of mind through Raj Mehra. It tells a tale of international politics and terrorism – and how it can be , as well as cannot be fought; it tells a tale of the utility of pride in a nation, as seen in the dealing with China and the US
Most of all, it tells a riveting tale of building a new India, a new, aggressive, shining and united India from where we are today – not by fighting the system; but by trying to change it in incremental steps from within… when an idealist, a “practicalist” (for want of a better word) and a fighter from a political family get together – or are bound together by circumstances and history – and create something new, a new way and a new approach… this is the tale of Raj Mehra, Azim Khan and Karan Nehru!