Three books in six years is a good strike rate for any author. It sounds even better when it is from someone with a demanding work life. Jin Dhoondha Tin Paaiyan is book number three from O.P. Singh, additional director general of police and currently special officer to Haryana chief minister. All his three books—Say Yes to Sports, Hausalanama and the above published recently—have been received very well by readers as well as critics.
In a candid interview to Guardian 20, Singh bares his thoughts on his trilogy.
Q. Is Jin Dhoondha Tin Paaiyna a fiction or non-fiction?
A. Neither. It is rather an action book. Our views on everyday issues shape our perception and determine the way we approach our life. Most of the time they are a hodge-lodge of prejudices, biases, half-truths and the outdated information. The water is further muddied by our memory that is extremely creative. If we don’t clean our thought-filters frequently, there is every chance that we will be saddled with a disjunct and distorted worldview and our actions won’t bring the expected outcomes.
Q. What prompted you to write this book?
A. Dumb social conversations.
We all have opinions on almost everything and we love to talk about them. But we seldom realise that what we say is most of the time a personalised wordplay. What we do as a result fails to bring the desired results and then we rue why things are not the way we want them to be. I call it fake-views. All of us harbour it in different degrees.
A year ago, I wondered whether I also suffer from this epidemic. This triggered my fact-checking on a wide range of subjects – happiness, luck, god, science , politics, social media, war, peace, youth, employment, crime, terrorism, social media, relationship, sports, governance, drug-abuse, police, to name a few.
Q. How did you do that?
A. It is not difficult to see that science—a body of knowledge based on data collected through experiments and observations – has built the modern civilisation. It has completely changed our relationship with the nature. So, I picked up one issue at a time and checked out what the science has to say about it. A journalist-friend prompted me to write a weekly article for the benefit of others. After all, who doesn’t need data-alignment of their worldview!
One issue at a time, an article in a week and 45 of them in about a year —the 174 page book came into being this way.
Q.Your first book Say Yes to Sports came for praise for its fluid prose? What made you switch to Hindi?
A. English is a beautiful language, spoken in 137 countries by 510 million people. It’s a great link language. Hindi, like Mandarin, is a regional language and spoken by a humongous number of people, around 490 million. While English is the best business language we have got, Hindi is the one I have grown up with. It is the best one when I have to express myself with maximum precision. Besides, readership is all about quality of writing. It is in our interest to help our mother-tongue prosper by reading and writing as it connects us to the world around in an uniquely intimate manner that no other language can ever do.
Q.Which one of the two you see as more dangerous: fake news or what you call fake views?
A.We generate and consume fake-news because we harbour fake-views. Fact-check may help now and then in ascertaining veracity of a piece of information but it is like applying ice pack for bringing down temperature.
Data-aligning our worldview is important as it resolves differences, settles debates and keeps us grounded and effective.
Q. The book is quite a page-turner. What would you say about your writing-style?
A. I think every author has a responsibility to deliver value to readers who invest time, money and their trust on at least two counts—readability and relevance. Readability is essentially about keeping the readers hooked and entertained with fluid prose – everyday words braided in short sentences and neat paragraphs, evoking readers’ imagery and making them in a way see what they read. Relevance is about living upto readers’ trust that the book, however minimally, will change them for better.
Q. Do you have any message for your readers?
A.I have two things to say. One, you are free to choose what you read. But don’t indulge yourself with the luxury of not reading. Your brain cells need it, your life situations need it.
Two, keep data-aligning your perception by fact-checking your fake-views. There is no fun in living in a mind that is filled with circular thoughts.