Someone who loves to talk politics, who can trade you story for story deep into the night, ever ready with a "you know the time when ..." Of course, weeks before the general elections now, in a polarised country, questions about the book are likely to be much more simplistic - "so, who does he support? First, that in Indian elections, emotions has consistently trumped economics.
As Ruchir says, talking of Chief Ministers of Indian states - Even when their state has been growing faster than 8% - a rate that normally puts an economy in the 'miracle' class - their chances of re-election improve only slightly, from one in three to .
And second, the lasting impression I carry is of India that is too diverse to be soundbite-able in a simple sentiment.
To restate a quote at the very end of the book - Hindustan Unilever's CEO Sanjiv Mehta recently told me that his company divides the twenty-nine Indian states into fourteen sub-regions, the twenty countries of the Middle East and North Africa into only four, because its research shows consumer tastes, habits and languages are far more fragmented in India. It vividly brings to ficus that the more India changes the more it remains the same. The book is also very timely with the next general elections months away and we have a latest updated perspective of people’s voices .
Also liked the ending summary which was realistic, yet optimistic.
It is always a gamble when an author goes out of their comfort zone to write about alternative passions. Democracy on the Road is not a scholarly study of different elections in India's past.
However, as someone trying to gain a deeper understanding of the work of different governments at national or local levels; and its on-the-ground impact assessment beyond just the marketing-tactics, I was left wanting for more.
I saw a complete lack of data in everything - from the group's estimates of polling results, to the real impact of government's development or welfare-driven agendas.
the troupe's meeting with Amit Shah, or with Vijayakant, Didi Mamata Banerjee scolding the audience when they got restive at her distraction, there are gems here that helped me understand these leaders a little bit better.
But more than anything else, what shines through for me here is the passion of Ruchir as a true junkie of Indian politics. But for me the take away was well summarised by two ideas.