Review of “PolyTicks, DeMocKrazy & Mumbo Jumbo: Babus, Mantras, & Netas (Un) Making Our Nation”

By Avay Shukla|Forward by Shashi Tharoor. Pippa Rann books & media

The public sphere in India- and India’s entire body politic- is virused. Though in the short-term, it suffers from a particularly virulent and persistent strain of neo-liberal Hindutva, the longer-term effects on the surviving body will be noted and profound. Against this backdrop, Avay Shukla’s book has been released; the timing and themes are apposite to the era in which India finds itself.

A series of satirical blogs on a variety of matters intimate to Indian democracy and culture,

“PolyTicks, DeMocKrazy, & Mumbo Jumbo,” traverses great ground as Shukla steers his turret at the hypocrisy, inhumanity, and narrow creed espoused by the Indian power elite.

Shukla started blogging in 2013, after 35 years spent as a senior IAS Officer. It is telling that the book starts with blogs written in 2014, the year when Narendra Modi assumed the Prime Ministership of India. Shukla aims at and simultaneously ridicules the Delhi elite and their fawning before power and the Modi administration’s disastrous policies- disastrous for the poor and for Democracy itself. Shukla is at his best when offering unsparing commentary on the hypocrisy of the Indian power elite, pointing out their various peccadilloes, and exposing the utter inhumanity inherent in the Modi agenda.

The book starts with an admiring forward by Shashi Tharoor. This is fitting for two reasons- first because of their shared Liberalism and second because of their collective command of the language. Shukla’s writing is at once hilarious and clear, limpid and fetching. I read the book in one-go, which I recommend everyone doing. Ultimately, the series of blogs garlanded together into a (very aesthetic) book do read as one. Avay Shukla might well be an Indian Swift.

As an aside, I had the chance to converse with the Publisher, Prabhu Guptara of Pippa Rann books and media. A charming interlocutor, Guptara came out of retirement to start the imprint, named after and dedicated to his late wife. He will be publishing work that adds to and extends India’s tradition of Democracy, pluralism, and justice.

Romi Mahajan is an Author, Marketer, Investor, and Activist


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