Our Impressions about Rogues Among the Ruins by Achala Moulik
With this brutally gonest account, Achala Moulik calls a spade a spade. The post of an IAS officer in our country is generally perceived to be most coveted. Many are disillusioned that once achieved, life is 'settled'. To provide insight into the workings behind the scenes of this tenuous job, 'Rogues Among the Ruins' by Achala Moulik is here to burst our many bubbles. Although labelled fiction, this book mirrors the abominable reality of our country's governing bodies and blows a whistle on the masqueraded men in power. Unapologetically truthful, this book follows the riveting adventures that civil officials have two encounters in two contrasting periods- one under the British Raj and the other in a post-Independence India.
A BRIMMING POT OF HISTORY Saturated with anecdotes hand-picked from India's rich history, this novel is an absolute treat for connoisseurs of history. The plot runs parallel to the nation's timeline with freedom movements in perfect synchrony with the narrative.
The first part, 'Life Among the Ruins', is the tale of an ASI archaeologist, Jules Norton, in the pre-independence era who finds himself on uneven ground when required to meddle in the ongoing political and shift of power. In his many conquests, being a historian at heart, one cannot help but get immersed in the illustrious accounts of his travels as he covers the dimensions of the country to unravel the mystery around its rich culture and encounter mystic characters. For example, during his tour's southern leg, Norton was invited to a 'private banquet' by the Nawab of Deccanabad. There he came across Begum Zoya, Nawab's fourth and Turkish wife, who also happened to be the granddaughter of the last Ottoman emperor. Determined to flee the country feeling trapped within the high walls of Talaknama Palace, she sought Norton's help for her runaway. Despite being bewitched by her beauty, he refused her, as to not betray Nawab's hospitality. Moreover, his mild inclination towards the Begum made him guilt-stricken that he couldn't even meet his wife in the eye for days.
DIRTY POLITICS ON THE SHOWCASE The second half of the book, called 'Romance with the Ruins', gives insight into an IAS Officer in service, Raman of the post- Independent India. The narrative gets more twisted as it plunges deep to dig out the dirt around the nitty-gritty of dishonest politics, a hugely flawed bureaucracy and the ever-so-darned corruption that has its roots penetrated the country's governing system since time immemorial. Apart from drawing scrutiny to the credibility of governmental officials, it doesn't shy away from giving them credit for where it is due. With descriptive accounts into the lives of civil service employees, the toil put in by them round the clock is awe-worthy. Under the veil of the glorious IAS position, the book is a reality check on the officers' daily struggles as they try to prevent friction with hard lining politicians, cope with postings, cooperate with colleagues and handle crises that can endanger their career, all this while balancing this hectic work ethic with their familial responsibilities. For instance, during the initial training days in Raman's career, he was met with the predicament of standing up to his superior, the Collector who beat the messenger to the pulp, to avenge his wife's infidelity. Raman prioritized his career above his morals, which, although he gained perks for his hush, filled him with regret on retrospection. Such are the quotidian choices that officers have to make, which often define the course of their careers. As a wholesome package, this riveting tale will take one through the many facets of the Indian administrative mechanism- its hierarchy, the instilled nepotism, stoic politics and yes, the insatiable hunger for power.