During the 40th anniversary of Indian independence in 1987, I interviewed Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in Delhi for The Independent. I admit to giving him an easy ride without reference to the breaking Bofors corruption scandal, which would for ever dog his name. For I lacked the confidence, and frankly the commitment, to enter the labyrinth of Indian politics. Yes, India is the world’s most populous democracy, but how many of us can name its prime ministers since Rajiv Gandhi’s fall in 1989?
Sujit Saraf’s massive novel about Delhi may be the first to make the modern Indian political world interesting – if hardly appetising – to outsiders. Novelists such as Salman Rushdie have dealt with politics, but not put it centre stage. A former prime minister, Narasimha Rao, tried with The Insider