In a nutshell: preposterous.
Saharasri Subrata Roy Sahara – I knew that this man, a brilliant businessman, was arrested in 2014. But I didn’t know why. It doesn’t matter early in this review, but it somewhat dented my opinion of him when I read the book with his arrest in mind. I agreed to review Think With Me, the second instalment in his Thoughts from Tihar, because I hoped to see some level-headed arguments from this well-read man. But Think With Me is a resounding disappointment.
There are many things that I disagree with in the book. And to see such shocking statements coming from a “responsible” person as Sahara is heartbreaking. He goes to the extent of saying that we have a “bad quality” population. It’s people we are talking about, not apples. And he also says that the low quality population and the part of the population that’s below poverty line is an ‘obstacle’ towards economic development. Sahara needs to understand that many-a-times, it is not due to lack of hard work that people are where they are, but because of circumstances which are beyond our reach.
Some points he’s trying to put across may be relevant, but the sentences come across as rather brash. But others are downright thoughtless and insensitive. For example, this set of lines:
Even if I had produced 10 children, I would have given those many good citizens to the country because God has given me the financial and social capability to do so. We stopped at two but on the other hand, around 10 children are being born to single parents on the roads and in slums.
It is so disheartening to see that “responsible” people like Sahara think of the homeless and slum-dwellers this way. Like I said before, many-a-times, people are not in a situation because they want to be there. But because they are helpless and cannot do anything. Yes, you with all your amenities might have other things to say, but you will never know anything they go through unless you walk in their shoes.
And he doesn’t stop there. He calls the current thinking of the people these days a “sick mentality”. How fair is that? Just because someone’s thinking differs from yours, you cannot brand it as a “sick mentality”!
Well, his idea of an “ideal family” is also something that’s a little nauseating, because Sahara, there is no such thing as an ideal family. We are humans. And nobody is ideal. Everyone has their demons. Every family has their problems. So deal with it. And you need to choose your words carefully because even though I did get what you are trying to say (according to work and education), the first thing that comes across is so infuriating.
In connection with his “ideal family” notion, he talks about giving “ideal” farming families “compensatory benefits”. Doesn’t it make the utmost sense to do it right now for poor farmers on the verge of suicide IRRESPECTIVE of the Sahara definition of an ideal family? If Sahara refuses to believe in the little sensible things that matter in life, then I refuse to budge from my beliefs, too.
So, in addition to his ideal family notion, he also decided to narrate something that reeks of gender bias. His father yelled at a woman who indulged in religious worship and not in preparing breakfast, tiffin, or lunch for her family, and accused her of neglecting her “duties”. So a woman is supposed to be a cook? If the family does not have a problem with it, why should anyone else? And he goes on to say that it is because of this neglect that three of them died while she was alive and one just after her death.
Sahara’s choice of words is appalling in so many places and in so many ways that it took me ages to read this 110-page book. He may have good intentions for the country but his measures are close to cruel and dictatorial. More on the lines of, “If you don’t follow this, you won’t have a ration card, and hence no food.” His narrative, in addition to his choice of words, is unclear in places, while being annoyingly repetitive. He makes explosive statements and then says, “I don’t want to generalize my statement.” Well…
I would have probably left the book in some damp corner of my bookshelf had it not been for my motivation that maybe, maybe he had at least a few valid points.
And he does have a few valid points.
- “Rights are given to perform your genuine duties, not to serve personal whims, false ego, and greed.”
- He points out what’s wrong with the education system. And that is true, irrespective of whether or not I, as a reader, agree with it.
- Being a teacher post-Independence, even in these modern times, does not command the respect it deserves.
- “Literacy gives you a job but not a level of competence.”
- He makes an excellent suggestion that companies could be given tax benefits/rebates to develop and maintain an online education system.
- “The prime focus of media should be to promote all-round social welfare, rather than indulge in commercialism or mere sensationalizing of news.”
- “Space consumed by negative news should never be more than the space consumed by positive news.”
- “Media often tends to come across as the worst enemy of the society.”
- “Religion is the performance of duties and not rituals.”
Think With Me is a book written with good intentions, but it is a little hypocritical, and in the process, comes out with such absurd statements that seem not-thought-through that it is difficult to actually want to read the book. Just for the positive points mentioned above, I give it 1.5 stars, though I wouldn’t really recommend this book.