Jul 02, 2014
Scent of a Game is a thriller that races across countries and cuts across the famed politico-bureaucrat-corruption nexus.
New Delhi: It is often that bureaucrats are bitten by the writing bug. But very few get down to writing fiction. This is what the Madhya Pradesh cadre IAS officer, Raghav Chandra, has done – writing a novel that takes from his experiences of living in Madhya Pradesh, a state that holds the distinction of hosting India’s largest population of tigers.
Scent of a Game is a thriller that races across countries and cuts across the famed politico-bureaucrat-corruption nexus. Throw in a meandering maharaja and the game is complete - to annihilate the majestic tiger from the forests of India and set up an international trade in animal and animal products.
So what prompted Chandra, a 1982 batch IAS officer from Madhya Pradesh, to write fiction?
The killing of tigers at the rate of one-a-day in the sanctuaries of Madhya Pradesh in 2006 caught Chandra’s fancy. That led him to diligently dig up exciting archives left behind by the equally diligent and observant British writers on the thrill of the big game in Indian jungles. With the reality of the vanishing tigers and the history of the hunt sorted out, Chandra added a dose of Indian mysticism and created the imagery of the last cheetah hunt. With dollops of imagination, Chandra has created an unputdownable read.
Difficult to label the novel under existing genres, it can be labeled as contemporary wildlife fiction. Ironically, books on wildlife have either consisted of children’s stories or of photobooks, the latter particularly show much but reveal little. A novel like this is rare.
So, it is the Buree Maadaa, a Royal Bengal poster-tigress in the Kanha Tiger Reserve, who goes missing. Around the same time, an Anglo-Indian journalist is attacked, a burly forest ranger gets transferred and an old man portends catastrophe through his dreams. With these mysterious and extraordinary events happening at a frantic pace, the reader is led smoothly into the novel till the very last page. With spotless ease, the writer swivels the spotlight on tiger conservation and forest management.
Despite Chandra, additional secretary and financial adviser to the Ministry of Agriculture and Department of Agriculture and Cooperation, Government of India, being a seasoned bureaucrat, none of the bureaucratese creeps into his language. Without much ado, Chandra says, 'writing is an inherent skill' and he may be tempted to write yet another one!