Shrilal Shukla’s Raag Darbari and Pahla Padav are among the finest satirical novels in Hindi. Humorous but almost never comical, decades after they were written, they remain relevant for those interested in understanding small town India. In an article in Outlook, Amitava Bagchi discusses the novel and what they mean to us: We the people. And he reiterates a point which this blog has emphasized multiple times: the real impediment to India’s future is the sickness of the Indian society.
Films like Life in a Metro and Page Three present the possibility of the existence of social and moral corruption outside the immediate purview of politicians and bureaucrats. As the aura of the state recedes from the urban imagination we begin to find more and more depictions of a structured and structural social corruption in which the line between corruption backed by political or administrative power and corruption backed by other kinds of power begins to get blurred. But Raag Darbari, Shrilal Shukla’s classic novel, had already demonstrated 40 years ago–when the socialist state and its particular brand of putrefaction were beginning to come into their own in a big way–that corrupt governments, like corrupt people, spring from corrupt societies.[link]