An anthology on today’s India (Book Review)

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Title: Kaw Caw Silly point: A Wonky look at Contemporary India; Author: M.K. Kaw; Publisher: Konark Publishers: Pages: 270; Price: Rs.250.

This is a funny and serious book at the same time. Maharaj Krishen Kaw joined the IAS in 1964 and retired in 2001 after holding many senior posts. He was a scholar in his own right, a declining breed in the civil services, and he knew how to wield his pen. “Kaw Caw”, his monthly column in ‘Naad’, the mouthpiece of the All India Kashmir Samaj, was a huge hit. This is an anthology of his best pieces.

Kaw is an insider and knows the establishment truly well. In pieces packed with wit and humour, Kaw deals with serious subjects, sharing with us his understanding of all that is wrong in today’s India. He hops from one subject to another with equal ease: Corruption, Mayawati’s elephants, Anna Hazare, Robert Vadra, Air India, Narendra Modi, Kashmiri Pandits (his community), marriage, computers and Internet, Delhi Jal Board… and what have you.

Kaw is, of course, not always – or wholly – right. His understanding of Modi, for instance, is clearly at loggerhead with what majority India thought. Kaw felt that Modi’s “image of a modern nation builder may come crashing into the dust if the accusations levelled by his enemies and erstwhile colleagues and subordinates come home to roost”. Kaw calls Modi an infant compared to Manmohan Singh and says the former Gujarat chief minister lacks knowledge of the big subjects: South Asia, Kashmir, nuclear policy et al. Modi has, however, proved to be a far different persona from what Kaw thought. Just shows that even if you are sincere, you can go wrong.

(18.08.2014 – M.R. Narayan Swamy is Executive Editor of IANS. He can be reached on The views expressed are personal.)

Last modified: September 23, 2014

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