WHAT YOUNG INDIA WANTS - Chetan Bhagat

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AUTHOR - Chetan Bhagat is the author of five novels, all of which have gone on to become bestsellers. In addition, Chetan is a motivational speaker and columnist. He was named one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World by Time magazine and one of the world’s 100 Most Creative People in Business by Fast Company, USA.

SYNOPSIS - The book is based on Chetan Bhagat’s newspaper columns, and influences drawn from his career as a speaker. He by the medium of it tries to incite discussions and viewpoints on various issues that concern the current political and social center-stage in the country. He also tries to propose solutions to some of them, while summarizing them from his own view point. He narrates the various essays and articles in the book, by speaking on behalf of his readership class which has a majority percentage of youth in it.

PULKIT SPEAKS –
the first non-fiction book from the bestselling author, has a catchy cover and a title worthy enough to be a case study for search engine optimization stuff on the Internet. It is subdivided into three parts, dealing with society, politics and youth, respectively, one at a time. It features two short stories to lighten up the summarized conclusion. My favorite portion of the book though, remains the very first chapter of it. “My journey”, an open letter – displays the varied emotions and introspections of the author, as  he talks about his life, his dreams, his achievements, his failures and his fears. By the simplistic narrative that he uses to share his journey so far, and talking about the frustrations that most of the readers can immediately relate to, he creates an environment of the kind – where anyone ageing between 13-27 would feel the pull to continue reading the rest of the book.

The social commentary covered in the section “Our society” focuses on the common ways with which things happen in our country and the pattern we follow to react to them. It ambitiously compares that pattern to reaction/thinking mechanism of people staying in other parts of the world and tries to impact a psychological change of thought process of the readers. It has an easy expression and tries to bring down every social taboo to black and white picture of the kind, where right things and wrong things appear obvious and clear.  Author intends to form layers in the mind of young readers where they develop a moral consciousness and open-minded approach towards things. He expresses most of his frustration here and suggests optimistic change of policies-which would work to make things better, according to him. Irrespective of how you view them, shallow or deep, some of talks here make sense.

The next section titled “Our Politics” – is rather a leap of reach from the author. He here tries to talk about policy making/proposes changes in the functionality and addresses everything – from foreign policy, reservation politics to economic framework, from defense strategy to trust-deficient of the constitutional bodies. The book would make sense in this part to someone, who is completely out of touch from the English newspaper and news channels. Irrespective of how virtuous some of his recommendations are, you can’t help but point out the shallowness that many of them carry. It is obvious that if you try to widen the scope of your talks to such complex and stretched apart topics of national interest, all in the periphery of mere 35 small hand book pages, at some point of time – you are bound to appear “talking on the surface”. I feel that here he doesn’t even delve enough into any particular issue, before proposing an over simplistic solution to the same and moving onto the next one.
Essays here sometimes talk high school level approach. Somebody who is not well read or not even minutely interested in political science dynamics might him them amusing and “hard hitting” but for others, it has little to offer.

In the third section “Our Youth”, Chetan plays on his forte.
He talks of education system, aspirations that every young student has, dreams of the common youth class, their anger towards things and how they, if given the right grooming, can be instrumental to the big change that we need in society and politics. It features, his famous internet-circulated speech titled “sparks”, which is nothing less than awesome. He in other chapters talks of critical need of Basic English for everyone who wants decent employment, gap between higher education and working-class-grooming, outdated curriculum of school level education and wrong approach of reward that we follow in our grading mechanism. Everywhere he suggests good points on the table. Talks genuinely about all the things that majority of youth of this country wants to say. He impresses them and simultaneously represents them. “Letter to Bapu from generation next on his birthday” and “open letter to Sonia Gandhi from young India” has cynicism, honesty and heart at the right places. Save us from ‘lerds’ is perhaps a rebound from him to those who talk about issues, complicatedly but never proposes solutions – he has taken a pinch at think tanks of the society, the one you see often on television talk shows on prime time. I feel he has a point even in that - A good one. “Can engineers be touchy feely” is the last chapter of this section. It is nothing of substance and may me is merely put to lighten up the mood of the whole thing.

The “Two stories”
“Of Ducks and crocodiles” has a metaphorical critical approach and appears apt to the current political scene.
“The cut off” is a beautiful short story about a boy who tops his school but could not land up to a decent college of his choice. It is a must must read for all parents and children - Realistic, funny and with the right lesson.

RATING – (3 + 0.5)/5.    

It is very easy for someone who sells at the rate that Chetan does to continue doing what he does the best – write a coffee table rom-com, yet he sincerely tries to fulfill the responsibility he has as a youth icon and utilizes his reach by spreading the right message across with the medium of “what young India wants”. He might be lacking in grammar skills, his style of writing might be shallow and lucid, but what is important is that this book has its heart at the right place. I am sure he ended the book with immense satisfaction personally. He is merely trying to generate ideas, incite a view point towards certain things, an approach which is correct morally. I would suggest everyone between the age of 13-23 to give it a try. For others, a much real portrayal of issues in India is put up in Mark Tully’s India in slow motion.

PRICE - Rs 140/- Kanpur Railway station. On printed price

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