Anna Hazare: The Gandhi of 21st Century
Author: Sanjay Dutta
Published by: Mahaveer Publishers, New Delhi
Pages: 204 Price: Rs 175
This is a hastily compiled book published with the intention of cashing in on the popularity of Anna Hazare during the days of his latest fast in Ramlila Maidan, Delhi. It is categorised as Biography on the back cover. But only about one-fourth of the book (chapters 1 & 2) is actually about Anna Hazare, the person. The rest is a history of Anna’s work against corruption in Maharashtra (chapter 3), the history of corruption in India and the major scams (chapter 4), the Lokpal Bill, both the Government’s version and Anna’s (chapter 5), a chronicle of Anna’s efforts for the Jan Lokpal (chapter 6) and some critiques on Anna (chapter 7).
Even the first two chapters fail to give the reader any deep insight into the character and personality of Anna, which is what one would expect from a biography. Instead the book provides some brief and superficial glimpses into certain parts of Anna’s life. Much of the first chapter is reproduced (with due permission, of course) from Mukul Sharma’s article at a website. In fact, most of the book consists of material reproduced from here and there (magazine, newspapers and websites/blogs).
If you are looking for any deep insight into Anna, the man, this is not the book for you. If you are interested in necessary details about major scams in India, the Lokpal and its history and the Jan Lokpal movement led by Anna, this book may benefit you.
Since most of the matter is reproduced from various sources there is much repetitiveness. Such reproduction also leaves the book without coherence. The writer of the book seems to have no opinion of his own on the topic that he is writing about. In the first 6 chapters it would appear that the writer is an admirer of Anna Hazare, while the last chapter would leave the reader with the impression that he is the severest critic of Anna. The last chapter is a compilation of articles written by various lawyer-critics of Anna. Sanjay Dutta, the author, could have given his own opinion somewhere in the book, especially in the conclusion.
But is Sanjay Dutta really the author? The front and back covers mention him as the author while the inner title page mentions “Pradeep Thakur & Sanjay Dutta” as the authors.
The author(s) didn’t do their homework properly. The worst instance of poor editing is on the last page of the book (page 204) which quotes a paragraph from “Deepak Patel, a lawyer.” Interestingly it is a paragraph from one of the critiques in chapter 7 which is ascribed to one Gautam Patel.
I won’t dismiss the book as trash, of course. It does provide a lot of valuable information about the whole issue related to corruption in India and the Lokpal Bill. It would have been a good book if the author(s) had taken a little pain to edit it properly and bring into it the authorial personality to give it the unique identity that every book should possess.
Note: I didn’t buy this book. It was gifted to me by a student on the last Teacher’s Day [Sep 5]. Thanks to the student, I stand a little better informed about the Lokpal issue.