Barkha

This is a bold and thought-provoking book, pushing one to think seriously about the issues it highlights.

Reviewed by Tara Dhar Hasnain

This Unquiet Land: Stories from India’s fault lines by Barkha Dutt
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Aleph Book Company (December 1, 2015)
Language: English

This is a bold and thought-provoking book, pushing one to think seriously about the issues it highlights. One may not agree with the author’s perspective, though I often do, but its real value is to bring certain fault-lines into the limelight, and remind those who care about India that it’s not enough to just shout ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ or any other catchy slogan.

A well-known TV journalist who has won many awards and accolades, Dutt got to record some ‘seismic shifts’ in Indian society. This fuelled her wish to dig deeper, to come to grips with the underlying ‘causes and effects of the cataclysmic change’ she had witnessed and reported on for some decades. Writing the book gave her the chance to explore in greater depth some of the news stories she had covered earlier under the pressure of deadlines, enabling her to connect the dots, to provide some historical context, and to look in a nuanced way at each topic she discusses.

She deals only with issues familiar to her, generally through news stories she has covered. Yet these are some of the most significant issues shaping a fast-changing India: ‘The place of women, terrorism, sectarianism, Kashmir, the games politicians play, the rapidly changing class and caste equations’, dynastic politics, and the Kargil war of 1999, when India and Pak came dangerously close to a nuclear confrontation.

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