Sanjha Morcha

In Punjab, Cong has a strong, popular leader in Capt: Tully

CANDID TALK Journalist­author Sir Mark Tully talks about political perception, India’s chronic problem of poor governance and more on the final day of the fest

KASAULI: Armed with a walking stick, Sir Mark Tully may shoo away many who would attack him with the term ‘White Man’s Burden’. His deep understanding of life in the subcontinent led British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) to call him ‘The voice of India’.

RAVI KUMAR/HTMark Tully says general perception is that the Congress is finished, but if people demand a modern government, the party could gain a votebank.

“I’ve probably written way too much about India. I see India as a country with great potential with a message of pluralism and many ways to God,” said the 81-year-old journalist-author who was born in Tollygunge in Kolkata.

He was here at the Khushwant Singh Literary Festival in Kasauli to be part of a session on the concluding day. He joined economist Sumantra Bose, grandnephew of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and former BBC sports editor Mihir Bose for a session on ‘The true story of the most remarkable Indian Spy in World War II’ on Sunday.


“I’ve never believed everything is divided into good or bad. There’s energy in the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) government that was not there in the previous one. They’ve introduced some important reforms, but all were marred by inefficiency, especially demonetisation and the Goods and Services Tax (GST),” said Tully, adding that the Congress should pull up its socks and stop issuing statements sitting in Delhi.

Tully feels that the general perception is that the Congress is finished, but if the people demanded more and wanted a modern, functioning government, the party could gain a vote bank. “In Punjab, the Congress has a strong and popular leader in the Captain (Amarinder Singh) that shows the tide can turn in their favour,” he added.

Tully was recently at a seminar in Bhopal where he quoted a World Bank leader who said, ‘India is not a failing country, but a flailing one’.

“Modi should think about a major overhaul of the ministries, police and government officials who deal with people. I have a bee in my bonnet about the impolite interface that government officials at the grassroots have with people. They are indolent and arrogant, vessels of petty corruption.” said Tully.


Antisocial elements have not helped the process in the last four years with an India starkly divided on communal lines.

“The BJP is a Hindu nationalist party, but if Hinduism is a tolerant religion, the party is not showing that. It has built an atmosphere where people are involved in activities that follow the ideology of the government. But the Prime Minister (PM), the BJP or the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) have not done nearly enough to condemn these activities.”

The government’s effort to rewrite historical facts, especially terming erstwhile Mughal rule as rampage rather than a conquest, has done more harm than good. “Indian history is a mixed bag. If what the government is selling is true, then we’re looking at 1,000 years of oppression. We’re demeaning our own history by saying we allowed ourselves to be subjugated for so long which is, in fact, factually incorrect. History should be viewed dispassionately.”