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Inside View
February 09, 2022 COMMENT comment
Inside View
Tavleen Singh
She's been covering the business of politics for the past 35 years. But in her fourth and latest book Durbar (Hachette), Tavleen Singh talks about those crucial years in India's history, 1975–1991, which many believe gave birth to the 'institutionalisation' of corruption.

While Singh has always been noholds- barred about her criticism of the Congress and notably its current leader Sonia Gandhi, in this book, she starts at the beginning of her relationship with the Gandhis' inner circle, from Sanjay's calculated entry all the way to Rajiv's tragic end. She admits that having been brought up in an elite Englishmedium boarding school, she and her peers – including the Gandhi scions – were cut away from the realities of the vast rural
population of the country. "My generation was the most colonised generation ever. What is worrying today is that we appear to have given birth to an even more colonised generation, so colonised that they do not even know it. It frightens me when I meet young Indians who have lost their own languages and speak English badly. At least some people in my generation were aware of what had gone wrong; this awareness seems absent in younger Indians,' she says.

The book takes us through various momentous events of the time, including to Kashmir before the militancy began and to a tense Punjab just before Operation Blue Star, where she asks diffi cult questions of Bhindranwale, one of the protagonists of the divisive Sikh movement of the 1980s. "It is the job of all journalists to do just this,' she says when asked about her courage in the face of controversial characters. "I do believe that without courage and curiosity it is not possible to be a reporter.'

While she often writes about what she sees as wrong in our country's leadership (when asked about any 'plus points in our politicians', she quips, "they would make a very short list'), she is nonetheless optimistic for the future of our democracy. "I am always hopeful about India. I think the worst kind of people have risen to the top in politics but this is the fault of Indians and not India.'

Having joined the workforce, and especially the media, when women were a small minority, she believes "women in the urban workforce (in India) face no bigger problems than they do in other countries.' Mother of journalist and author Aatish Taseer, who was born after a whirlwind affair with the late Pakistani businessman and politician, Salman Taseer, Singh refuses to discuss her personal life, and also likes to keep her 'shopping secrets secret!' However, she does admit to enjoying a glass of red wine and a good book to relax at the end of a long day. "It is very important to live life as fully as possible," she advises.

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