“India is a difficult country to characterize, and Indians not easy to define, especially today when they are in transition, emerging from the shadows of history into the glare of a globalizing world.”
The author takes on this stupendous task of elucidating the general characteristics of the Indian populace. And, it is painful to read about our characteristics, because in many of the examples mentioned, the truth is bitter and yet, it is one of our advantages. Your intuitive side would deny it, yet the logical side would understand it.
As Eugene Gendlin states:
“What is true is already so. Owning up to it doesn’t make it worse. Not being open about it doesn’t make it go away. And because it’s true, it is what is there to be interacted with. Anything untrue isn’t there to be lived. People can stand what is true, for they are already enduring it.”
How did we successfully adopt democracy, despite being a nation of multiple religions, languages and cultures? When practicality contests with religion, which side do we choose? What makes us so good in Information Technology? Why don’t we encounter violent riots every month or every week? The author uses these questions to bring out different characteristics that make us tick.
Pavan Varma is a former Indian Foreign Service officer and has the capacity to see India and Indians with a balanced perspective of being an Indian as well as someone who has represented India in other countries.
The book is very well written (I encountered a new word every third page). Even though it has about 200 pages, it took me many sessions to read it, as the impact of the words lay heavily on my mind. I would even bet that it would be the cover of the book that bewitches you to get the book: India’s map as a tattoo on the arm of a man in a vest, his arms folded and the two rings on his fingers visible in the shadow, while the blurred background hints of deprivation.
It also has one of the most well written epilogues I have read.
The book is insightful and would give you a new way to look at the news you read every day.
Hence, I urge you to read this book.