Tag Archives: Delhi

2014 The Election That Changed India, by Rajdeep Sardesai

Book Review

Rating: 7/10

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Rajdeep Sardesai is one from the league of journalists who rose from the ranks of foot soldiers of pre-privatised news industry to the owner (almost) of a multi-million dollar news channel. But still he is a journalist who is just as appreciated as a stain on your shirt – you will notice it only when it’s there, and will forget the moment you switch your shirt. I said in one of my comments during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections of India, ‘Rajdeep Sardesai used to be as good as Pranoy Roy (NDTV), but thought it’s good to be loud & outspoken as Arnab Goswami, and ended up struggling in-between trying to find his ‘original’ style.’

However much do I dislike his style of journalism, I found his style of writing very intriguing in his debut book – 2014 The Election That Changed India. His first-hand account of what conspired and how it happened in one of the most challenging, yet innovative elections of the world’s biggest democracy, this book will definitely be used as a reference for contemporary political historians. In his book, Rajdeep has covered the entire landscape of Indian politics, from “Left” to “Right” and in-between, from UPA to NDA to Third (& Fourth) Front, from “Didi” to “Behenji” to “Amma” – he has it all.

One of the key changes that happened in the Indian politics in 2014 was that this was everybody’s election, and the level of polarisation was unprecedented. Parallels can be drawn with the Janata Party government formed after Emergency, but they will never be able to match the hype that the 2014 election created. This election saw the use of modern technology, analytics and social media in almost a maddening style by the cash-rich BJP. In this high-paced election campaigning and run-up to the highest post in India, media played a crucial role, and I believed that only someone from the media could ever chronicle the events accurately. And Rajdeep, in my opinion, has done that to a highly satisfactory level.

The book is not without its flaws, though. Rajdeep has, at numerous instances, tried to break himself free from some of the most embarrassing moments of his career – Modi interview during Vivekanand Yatra and Raj Thackrey interview. Very subtly, he tries to reassure the reader that all is well between him and these politicians, and that he can always give them a casual call even in the late hours. Only he or the politicians know how much water does that statement holds. Also, his obsession with comparing politics with cricket annoyed me a lot.

Overall, I believe the book is a very interesting account of one of the most ferociously fought elections of India. If you ever participated in those heated political discussions in early months of 2014, I will highly recommend you to read this book.

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P.S.: The pictures have been borrowed from internet with thanks to the owner of this picture.

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Emirates: No Wow Factor!

For my last trip to India, I thought I should opt for one of the ‘best airlines’ of the region – Emirate. But the experience that I had on this trip left me with an impression of disgust, awe and disappointment over the performance of this supposedly ‘leading airlines’ of the region. Unfortunately, I would say that my experience with Emirates Airlines was ‘Much Below Expectations’.

 To begin with, there are long queues that I had to stand in a long queue to check-in, which is ok. But when I reached the counter, the guy sent me back to some machine asking me to get my Boarding Pass from there before coming to the counter. Surprised at this, I went to the machine and got the boarding pass and finally checked-in my luggage. I must say the T-3 has been built as a grand airport with a huge Duty Free section enough to compete with a shopping mall. That was the only nice part of the entire trip, though. I was told that T-3 doesn’t have any security checks whatsoever and no passenger harassment in that sense, but I clearly remember that I had to show my boarding pass to the highest number of people at this airport than ever. Once into the flight, the seats were so close to each other that I could barely fit inside. To my bad luck, I’d got an aisle seat and everyone had to pass through me to get in or get out which was impossible without me getting off my seat every time. Given all this exercise, I felt a lot thirsty and hence, called for the air hostess. To my surprise, nobody notices that the light above my head was popped up. The air hostesses just passed by and took no notice of the light. It was good 10 minutes before I decided to call one of them, standing nearby to get me a glass of water or fresh lime juice. Nobody came back. After another 5 minutes, I requested another lady to get me a glass of water which was responded by an assurance, but no action. Finally, it was the third air hostess whom I got hold of, after another 5 minutes of the second one and she finally got me a glass of water. That’s the Emirates experience for you, I thought.

 As if this wasn’t enough, the flight had a technical problem – its water pressure refused to work at the last moment and the passengers were told that the engineers were working on it. And here we are, blaming and bashing India to have been working at the last moment to finish the CWG venues. It was amazing to find that the airlines with its own dedicated airport can have delays in the flight by as much as an hour. And that too, when the airlines boasts of its on-time take-offs and uses it as a factor to charge a premium from its customers. And I must clarify that even after this 1-hour delay, the bathrooms were not fixed and the washrooms didn’t have any water to wash hands when you need to.

 That’s not the end. The quality of food was another factor on which I rate Emirates at 1 on a scale of 5. The rajmah chawal served on board was the most pathetic one I’ve had in ages. The chapattis were half baked. Only saving grace was the lime juice and green salad.

 Once I landed in India, I thought maybe it’s just a one-time thing that might happen with anyone. So, I reassured myself that I won’t face a similar situation on my way back to Dubai a few days on. But to my surprise, the experience was no different. The flight took off atleast 40 minutes after the right time. Customer Service was as poor and food was as pathetic as on my last trip. That proved that my initial experience wasn’t a one-time event, it’s a regular feature of ‘The Emirates Experience’.

I must point out here, in the end that I rate Jet Airways as much better airlines than Emirates, especially on this route (Dubai-Delhi). Never again am I going to travel by Emirates, atleast not till the time they have something really worthy to offer.