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Polyticks, DeMocKrazy & MumboJumbo by Avay Shukla: book review and digging into politics

Indian political satire with no filters

Political satire is a genre that is as old as politics. The people on the top build a facade of themselves and satire works to break that facade. The hypocrisy of the leaders, their supporters and the reaction of the general public, the author notes it all down. You’d expect a book based on Politics to be all serious but this breaks the image. It’s filled with witty takes on the current political scenario.

Avay Shukla talks about how South Delhi has lavish parties organized but avoids paying taxes. After that they have the audacity to complain about governance. He draws two parallels between the education system in Kanpur and Delhi, the difference in quality and the future of children coming from both these systems. The difference in the quality of teaching in government schools in urban and rural regions can be so different that a student from one school will potentially enter Ivy League and the student of the other will barely make it through clerical exams. Every child has huge potential but it’s the inequality that makes or breaks it and who is to blame for this.

He talks not just about education but rather the presence of contrasts all across the board, be it economic, social, political and how common middle-class families are just like the seeds in the oil pressing mills. The benefits of policies don’t get distributed but rather it is determined on the basis of one’s political and social status. He gives analogies to explain the human tendency to bribe and then complain about the same thing. In a very prude manner, he explains our bribing habits to gods in return for good results, winning cases, and so on, and then that same “we need to give, to get something in return” mentality lands us up in bribing the babus and netas to get our work done. It may seem like criticizing but what is criticism if not the subtle truth.

Avay Shukla, a “punny” man, discussed some of the serious issues prevailing in the country for several decades, in a humorous manner. Satire on the political state of India from an IAS officer gives a different edge in the scenarios where the officers are known mostly to write their memoirs/motivational/serious socio-political non-fiction books. The timeline of the book is from 2014 to the present, focusing on the current government and how it performed in the eyes of the author.

The book comprises the essays he wrote on his blog but it doesn’t stay limited to that particular timeline. Often he discussed how grave the condition has been for years and how there is a kind of absolute anarchy in the system itself. He might seem biased depending on the reader's ideology. Avay Shukla is very honest in showing his support towards a particular section and doesn’t sugarcoat or try to cover it in any way. Although the writing style is very enjoyable, the dark grim content isn’t.


An uproariously funny, no-holds-barred tussle with India’s entire canvas: political culture and current affairs, the environment and conservation, the bureaucracy and governance, legal matters, social issues, societal peccadilloes, and anything else that can be lampooned. The foibles are treated with indulgent banter, the failures with wit and raillery of the highest order. Avay Shukla is an original voice.


Avay Shukla retired from the Indian Administrative Service in December 2010. He is a keen environmentalist and loves the mountains. He divides his time between Delhi and his cottage in a small village above Shimla. He used to play golf at one time but has now run out of balls. He blogs at

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