By Barsali Bhattacharyya
What do you get when you put a group of young parliamentarians together with the country's crème de la crème? An evening of debate and discussion? Add a whole lot of laughter and pleasant banter, and that's what Tuesday evening at the Capital's Taj Mahal Hotel was all about.
The launch of India: The Future is Now, edited by Shashi Tharoor, the minister of state (MoS) for human resource development (HRD), and put together by a dozen young MPs, kicked off with a discussion on how the participation of the youth is crucial to the future of the country.
The contributing authors - MPs from the Congress as well as other parties - discussed and deliberated over the impediments to India's growth map, as the charming MoS for HRD occupied the moderator's chair and did his best to not take sides.
(From left) MoS Shashi Tharoor, who has edited the book, French ambassador François Richier and BJD MP Jay Panda at the launch
Archana Dalmia (left) and Neelima Dalmia (right) were among the stars attending the event
BJP Anurag Thakur (left) is pictured at the launch with tycoon Sunil Alagh
Diplomat Pawan Verma (left) and BJP leader Vani Tripathi (right) have a heated discussion
But it was the presence of ace cartoonist Sudhir Tailang that kept our hot-blooded politicians in good humour despite a difficult day at Parliament.
Tailang, whose hilarious caricatures are interspersed in India: The Future is Now (published by Wisdom Tree), raised a laugh riot as he recalled how Tharoor had inspired him to make a cartoon by tweeting his way out of the ministry of external affairs in 2010.
"Politicians of today seldom inspire cartoonists the way their predecessors did," Tailang added.
Besides the young lot of politicians, such as the scion of the Gwalior royal family, Jyotiraditya Scindia, BJP's Anurag Thakur and Anant Kumar Hegde, the star-studded evening also had in attendance Neelima Dalmia Adhar and Archana Dalmia, art critic Alka Pande, corporate biggie Sunil Alagh, former cricketer Abbas Ali Baig, hairstylist Jawed Habib, as well as the very sociable French ambassador to India, François Richier.
Former cricketer Abbas Ali Baig joined some of the country's top authors and politicians for a discussion on how to engage India's youth in politics