The Literary City

A Disquiet In The Queen Of All Nations With Abhijit Sengupta

November 29, 2023 Explocity Podcasts Season 3 Episode 70
The Literary City
A Disquiet In The Queen Of All Nations With Abhijit Sengupta
Show Notes Chapter Markers

In what is meant to be his quiet and reflective corridor of retirement, my guest today, Abhijit Sengupta grapples with a disquiet that lingers. A former senior IAS officer and therefore, you might say, a custodian of order and democracy, a lifetime of service to the nation has clearly left him with a profound sense of duty that refuses to retire with him.

Abhijit’s expression of angst—a visceral response to the erosion of the democratic foundations that he cherished—has resulted in his latest book, The Queen of All Nations. A response to what he sees as the foundations of democracy that are being visibly eroded with every headline and each policy shift, serving up yet another dissonant note in a score he thought he knew by heart.

It is understandably difficult for anyone to come to grips with the realisation that the ideals he held dear are slipping through the cracks of a society in a time of ideological polarisation.

So, amidst all this angst, Abhijit Sengupta becomes a reluctant activist in this shifting landscape of incipient fascism and rising fundamentalism. But he channels his efforts not as a lament for a bygone era but as something of a rallying cry for the return of ideals. With the optimism that the spirit of a plural, democratic society can endure if those who believe in it refuse to be silent witnesses to its demise.

The Queen of All Nations is more than a historical narrative. It's a call for greater awareness of history and what got us here. It is a poignant reflection on the anguish of this intellectual in a world grappling with political turmoil.

And, as a comfortable read, the book serves as a lighthouse for readers of the younger generation whom he takes on a sweeping journey through the annals of modern India, delving into the intricate political landscape, social upheavals, and cultural transformations that have shaped the nation's identity.

To discuss his book, his ethic and his state of mind, he joins from his home in Bangalore, a city we share.

Buy The Queen Of All Nations:
Buy A to Z:
Read Ramjee Chandran’s review of A to Z:

Abhijit Sengupta joined the Indian Administrative Service in 1972 and retired in 2008  as Secretary, Ministry of Culture, Government of India. He has Master's degrees in Public Administration from Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada, and in English Literature from Delhi University. He received the prestigious Pearson fellowship of the IDRC, Canada in 1984-85 to study Public Administration.

o-host Pranati "Pea" Madhav joins Ramjee Chandran in the fun etymology segment, "WHAT'S THAT WORD?!" where they discuss the "FULL STOP."

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Music by Sergii Pavkin from Pixabay