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Book Recommendations | July 29, 2014

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Swaraj – The agony & ecstasy of Arvind Kejriwal

Swaraj – The agony & ecstasy of Arvind Kejriwal

Review Overview

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Swaraj (self-rule)
by Arvind Kejriwal
            

“Things don’t turn up in this world until someone turns them up.” Swaraj (self-rule) by Arvind Kejriwal – the enfant terrible of 21st century India, is a book that truly embodies this adage. In fact, it’s called ‘a manifesto for our times’ by the renowned social activist Anna Hazare and not without reason.

After all, Arvind Kejriwal knows the ‘system’ having worked within it for years and fully aware of its vicious, self-serving nature.

Swaraj is also a rare case where we can witness a book being practiced in real life. This is what renders the book its true power and saves it from being just a compilation of well intentioned but utopian thoughts doomed to be slaughtered at the altar of intellectual wrangling.

And for those, who still see it as innocent ramblings of an eccentric mind, it’s important to remember the sane words of Bertrand Russell, “Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.”

This cacophonic clamour for becoming a beggar is the biggest deterrent to the progress of the country.
- Arvind Kejriwal, Swaraj

But, be warned – Swaraj is not for a light reading. It’s dry, scholarly and tedious at times. And yes, better editing, design and presentation wouldn’t have hurt its cause. On top of it, Arvind Kejriwal makes no effort whatsoever to charm or woo the reader. He says it, true to character, as it is – hammering the same idea again and again and… again, till you either bang the book on your head in frustration or take a deep breath and start reading it again.

And, that’s when the book starts to reveal itself. Swaraj actually rewards its readers on the second reading. That’s when its simplicity of purpose and sincerity of ideas overpower its faults bringing out the utter helpless of people in such a vivid manner that you often find yourself nodding your head in agreement.

Consider this, “It seems ironical but as long as the forests were home and natural habitat to the tribal it was a forest but as soon as it was declared a national treasure it has started shrinking and is on the verge of extinction.” Well, who can argue with that!

And that’s why dear reader, we at Book Recommendations are asking you to check it out provided you are interested in coming out of the rabbit hole.

As George Bernard Shaw aptly said, “All progress is initiated by challenging current conceptions, and executed by supplanting existing institutions.” And, what better than a book to start the churning!

Fate of your problem is assigned to a lottery, ironic but true. There is no sanity in a system that overrides the wishes of its people!
- Arvind Kejriwal, Swaraj

Again, while Swaraj grapples primarily with the issues confronting the contemporary India; its relevance goes far beyond the developing world. In fact, it kicks squarely at the heart of our fast & furious culture, challenging our notions of ‘how to make the world a better place by preserving the status quo’.

Swaraj in a nutshell demands change and change is rarely comforting.

Here, Arvind Kejriwal raises the most fundamental questions that we as a society love to debate and forget. Dealing with issues of governance, corruption, empowerment and most importantly, inclusiveness in a simple, jargon free manner, Swaraj is the raison d’être of the man himself, who has no qualms in sharing his pain as well as the panacea.

Who is Arvind Kejriwal?
Arvind Kejriwal is an Indian politician and social activist. An engineering graduate from IIT Kharagpur and a former Joint Commissioner of Indian Revenue Service, Arvind came into limelight in 2011 during his struggle for Lokpal Bill to check the menace of corruption which culminated in the launch of Aam Aadmi Party in November 2012.
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Arvind Kejriwal’s mission is Swaraj (self-rule) – to bring empowerment & equality at the lowest strata of the society. He is a recipient of Ramon Magsaysay Award in 2006 among many other laurels. Arvind is married, has two children and passionate about Hindi movies, meditation and of course, changing the world, though not necessarily in that order.

But, beyond all of this, at its core, Swaraj is about choice or rather… the lack of it. Chew on this – “Let the people decide what they want. Let them decide what their priorities are and how they would like to deal with the problems that they face. Once they are given freedom to choose, freedom to operate and free funds, they will excel in governing themselves.”

While this pathway to ‘freedom’ may look slippery to many and some may think of Arvind Kejriwal as an ignorant crusader, a hopeless romantic or a benevolent dictator in the making, what resonates most in the book is the singular voice of the author. You can agree with him or disagree, consider him a leftist, regressive or plain naive but it’s impossible to doubt his sincerity.

In this whole drama citizens have no powers except to lodge complaints against the thieves to thieves, hoping for a stringent action that is rarely taken.
- Arvind Kejriwal, Swaraj

But, what may give goosebumps to many is the knowledge that the guy is serious and worse, willing to walk the talk! In fact, Arvind Kejriwal’s real success lies in his ability to make us believe, even if just for a fleeting moment, that it’s possible to have a say in your destiny.

And, even if you do not learn anything new from Swaraj, rest assured – this book will make you re-think whatever you know.

Ultimately, Swaraj is one book that’s still in the making, its final chapter yet to be written. In our age of good times – ‘do nothing, say nothing, be nothing’, Swaraj asks us to make a choice and stand for it.

For many of us accustomed to enjoy the ‘drama’ from the sidelines, it’s a tough call indeed but as T.S. Elliot once said, “Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”

Are you willing to make the choice?

Question: Do you think Arvind Kejriwal will be able to fulfil his dream of Swaraj? You can add a Comment below.

  • Girish Gupta

    I read the Book, it is wonderful. But in this corrupt country politicians will not allow this wonderful change to happen other wise their hunger will not be quenched. These corrupt politicians want to earn for at least 10 generations and forget to understand that they need, “how much land does a man need?”, only 2 yards..

    • http://bookrecommendations.org/ Book Recommendations

      Very well said Girish. Guess, all of us need to do our bit to ensure that Change does happen – as no effort, however small it may be, ever gets wasted. And, what could be better to kick-start the process than reading an inspirational book.

  • Kulkarni

    I knew about the book. I follow AK. But needed a push to open up the book and read. Thanks for the awesome review. Makes me begin the book right away.

    • http://bookrecommendations.org/ Book Recommendations

      Glad you liked our recommendation for Swaraj. Do let us know your feedback once you’ve read the book.

  • RK Sharma

    I feel Kejriwal is making fool of Indians, give me 5 crores per month like his getting, I can also sit on fast, this all is drama and many people have done it earlier, even God can’t help India, what will Kejriwal do, wait for 10 more years till will touch 1.5 billion and 2 billion with same land same but depleted resources and we all will see such times in our life.

    • Lalit

      Sharma Ji – why talking BS. AAP has posted all donations online and everything is clean and clear. How do you say that he is getting 5 crores per month? You think he is like other politicians of India but he is not. Just wait for some time and you will see the results.

      • Girish Gupta

        Dear Sharma, knowing fully well and saying ,”even God can not help in eradication of corruption”, you are trying to hide behind corruption rather than helping/praising a person who has left money earning job & joined hands with poor for agony they have. I request if you can not help him at least watch him and his courage.

    • http://twitter.com/meetbeniwal Amit Beniwal

      rk शर्मा — dnt be so negative rk sharma . atleast apni taraf se to thoda imanndar bano aur change lane m sehyog kro……naki -ve batein

  • Vikas Rawat

    nice Ideas.

  • http://twitter.com/sriakg sriakg

    Arvind Kejriwal Revolutionized Leadership! AK’s
    willingness to stick with a bold course of action is the true mark of a
    Leader!! Lets make it happen! If best practices are
    not adopted future will be unsustainable…Jai Hind!!

  • Madhup Garg

    Arvind Kejrival’s vision of Swaraj is every Aam Aadmi’s dream. To make this a reality, we need to wake up, join and support him. Otherwise it will, forever, remain a distant dream. The choice is clear! There is no alternative!

  • Jyoti

    A well-written and balanced review on a rare hero of our times. Convinces me to go order the book.

    • http://bookrecommendations.org/ Book Recommendations

      Glad you liked our recommendation Jyoti. Do let us know your thoughts once you’ve read Swaraj.

  • GOPAL DAVDA

    YES CERTENLY SOONER OR LATER BUT DONT FORGET THAT HE CANT ALONE AS HE ALWAYS SAYS BUT TOGATHER WE CAN BY SUPPORTING HIM TILL THE GOAL IS AHIVED BY ALL MEANS ATLEAST BY VOTING THE ONLY WAY TO GET THAT DREAM TRUE JAI HIND

  • Ajay Chandra

    70 Clean candidates fighting elections in Delhi entirely with White money – Worst Nightmare for both Congress & BJP !