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Gurmehar Kaur Then and Now: On Trolls, Fake News and New Books

Gurmehar Kaur’s book ‘The Young and The Restless’ takes the reader into different ideologies & political experiences

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Student activist and author Gurmehar Kaur’s second book The Young and the Restless is out on the stands and is already garnering a fair bit of attention. This book is about India’s young politicians who were thrown into the throes of politics at a young age and have worked their way around it.

Her book is a series of interviews delving into the various layers of politics. However, when it comes to Kaur, nothing that she does ever goes without being noticed by the trolls on social media. So, a question that she is often asked about her book is how did she select the range of politicians that she did. And how exactly do some of the politicians such as Sachin Pilot, Omar Abdullah come under the category of being ‘young’?

“The book has politicians like Sachin Pilot, Omar Abdullah who have carried the label of being ‘young’ for a very long time.”
Gurmehar Kaur to The Quint

So, being ‘young’ for Kaur is actually a label that she is trying to understand through her book and the politicians who have always been labeled as young by the media.

She also interviewed former JNU students union member Shehla Rashid. Rashid is now into active politics. But why did she leave out Umar Khalid and Kanhaiya Kumar?

“For me writing this book would have been very easy if I just had to interview Umar and Shehla and Kanhaiya. This book would have been written in 3 months’ time. But. I purposely made sure that I only select one representative from the JNU row. And I really wanted to interview Shehla because she had an incredible story to tell. She is a young Kashmiri woman who has risen from one of the most militarised places in the world and entered into active politics at such a young age. Her story is one of extreme courage and I knew I had to tell it.”
Gurmehar Kaur to The Quint
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Someone who even remotely has studied Gurmehar Kaur’s politics would know that she is slightly left of center and one would expect her to keep her book about politicians who she has an ideological affinity with. Yet Kaur chose to go on the far right and interview Aditya Thackeray from the Shiv Sena.

“If I had not chosen anyone from the far right, then there would have been criticism saying ‘everyone in your book is centre, left of centre, where is the right wing? And Aditya is an interesting person. I truly went into the interview being very curious. I had no idea what this person is going to be like. Is Aditya Thakeray who belongs to the Shiv Sena ‘liberal’? You will have to read the book to find that out.”
Gurmehar Kaur to The Quint

Kaur has tried to encompass most ideologies in the country yet left out the north-east.

“I could not have as many people as I wanted to. There were so many people on my list that it couldn’t be possible for me to reach out to everyone. Logistics, time constraints lead to several change in plans. I really wanted to interview Agatha Sangma from the north east but time didn’t allow.”
Gurmehar Kaur to The Quint

To get you hands on the book and develop your own understanding of the politicians she has interviewed, the book is available in a bookstore near you.

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