Despite plenty of other things I need to do, I've been listening to a few of the famous tapes. Just a few so far, and I'm not sure I will listen to them all. Or want to, for that matter -- there's been a lot of fluff to wade through before getting to the more telltale nuggets.
Some initial reactions:
There's something unsettling about listening to conversations that the participants assumed were private. Something unsettling about the easy way so many people talk about the ways of power. It's not surprising. Because if you stop to think about it, like it or not this is how politics must always have proceeded -- and will always proceed -- in a vast diverse country. But it is unsettling nevertheless.
But for me, the most disturbing moment so far is the casual, almost throwaway way that two women speak about instigating the Shiv Sena to attack business rivals. Here's a part of their conversation:
"You're going to have the Shiv Sena after you next."
"That's what's going to happen, because they went after them, so you're going to have the same Shiv Sainiks coming after you saying you can't do that."
"I'll see how I can use the other group to get a message across to Uddhav, in order to say ke go after them instead."
"I'll tell them to tell Uddhav to go after them."
There's also a reference to how "both sides" have paid the Sena.
You have to listen for some ten minutes to get to it, but it's there in this tape. It's there all right, this exchange that is as clear a commentary on Indian democracy as you can get.