A civil servant’s job is not easy. Who Are These People? by Leena Nandan, a 1987 batch IAS officer and secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, gives a peek into the lives of civil servants in the country in the backdrop of India’s war against terror.
The book, a fiction, unfolds with the confusion and rage that prevails after the 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai before shifting focus to planning of terrorist activities. Elsewhere, civil servants of the 2011 batch have gathered at their alma mater, Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration, for a reunion 10 years after leaving the institute. Independently and together, the sub-plots make for an action-packed thriller. There is a sinister plan to attack the nation. Alongside, there are stories of romance, sacrifices, action and monotony.
The book has glowing endorsements by bestselling author Vikas Swarup and lyricist Prasoon Joshi. Amitabh Kant, at the launch of the book said that it is a fascinating novel of finely carved characters with amazing twists and turns. As an IAS officer, Nandan’s narration makes the story realistic, adding her understanding of the functioning of government agencies and officers.
From a young age, Nandan was quite fond of reading thrillers and murder mysteries, and spent hours imagining her own plots. She soon started writing for magazines and newspapers. Even while being busy handling the demands of an IAS career in Uttar Pradesh, she found time to pursue writing. Who Are These People? is Nandan’s third book after How to Placate an Angry Naga: Finding one’s feet in the IAS in 2006 and Ten Days in 2014.
Here is an excerpt from the book:
The Director of Research & Analysis Wing (RAW) was the man in the hot seat. He had managed to deflect some of the flak by turning the spotlight on the Director of Revenue Intelligence, who, apparently, had been tasked several months ago with the responsibility of posting his men in key embassies abroad to track terror money being channelled through illegal routes into the country. Drawn and haggard, he tried ineffectually to point towards the lack of intelligence coordination with other agencies and foreign missions, but his protestations went largely unheard. The men in uniform, who had bravely saved lives at the risk of their own, were feted because they had carried the day, but could they have been better equipped, better trained?