What Indian Politicians Read (Part 2)

A serial post: Read part 1 here 

Sitaram Yechury, Rajya Sabha MP and Politburo Member, CPM

Growing up, my childhood was primarily Telugu-speaking, and I was exposed to Telugu literature and poetry, a lot of which had social reform. The poetry of Sri Sri, a well-known revolutionary poet, moved me, as did the work of Gurazada Apparao. He was the first one I heard saying a country is not its bricks and mortar, that a country is its people. These early exposures raised a lot of questions – the questions of caste, of inequality, of language, of national integration – the answers to which I would eventually find in Marxism.

Sajjad Gani Lone, Chairman, People’s Conference

My life has been deeply impacted by certain books. Reading Khalid Hosseini left me sad and disturbed for days. His depiction of pain, gender inequality, and ethnic supremacy is heart-rending.

… I visualize the characters in his novels while I’m reading, and at night, they would populate my dreams, suffused with sadness.

Nirmala Sitaraman, Spokesperson, BJP

What role literature plays in the lives of politicians is difficult to guess, but what role it can play is clear. Literature throws light on human dynamics. Complex issues can be deconstructed and reframed. He subtle and the nuanced can be better appreciated throw the thoughts and experiences of the writers. Literature widens every canvas. Even the lone, often unheard voice, can be accessed through a drama or even a haiku. Literature can mellow even the toughest mind.

Derek O’ Brien, Rajya Sabha MP, TMC

I read a lot and find it difficult to identify just one book that has influenced or shaped me. Reading habits, reactions and the lessons you draw from book change as you evolve. In my teenage years, I found Richard Bach’s Jonathan Livingston Seagull very influential. .. a modern rendition of the Icarus legend: fly high, reach for the sky, but be careful the sun doesn’t singe you.

In my 20s, I devoured Ogilvy on Advertising, the Bible of the professions written by the master himself: David Ogilvy. His book spoke of not just selling an item with clever copy, but actually living a product.

Pinaki Mishra, MP, BIJU Janata Dal

The ‘40s, ‘50s, and ‘60s were a rich period of Indian art, so I have a huge collection of books on (FN) Souza, for instance. Also, Hemen Majumdar and the Bengal School of Art.

I’m a big Wodehouse fan, too. It really does transport you into another world. An idyllic world. I always have a Wodehouse by my bedside table. You always find a Bertie Wooster in life wherever you go – someone who can blunder his way through life and come out smelling of roses. But it would be most impolite of me to mention the Wodehouse in public life! If I read 5-10 pages of Wodehouse at night, I invariably sleep much better.

Excerpts from the Indian magazine, Tehelka



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