February 4, 2007
India will overcome, says who?
Says Edward Luce, who has been India correspondent of The Financial Times, London. He writes about “the strange rise of modern India” in his book, titled, In Spite of the Gods. It won’t be enjoyed, reckons The New York Times review, by Indian diplomats, academics, Hindu nationalists and makers of cow-dung anti-dandruff shampoo. “Most others, I suspect, will relish”, says the reviewer Ben Macintyre.
Nicely put, Ben. My suspicion is that many of the academics and diplomats who read this sentence would want to read the book, if only to repudiate it; and the others would be inclined to buy it to see what is there in it that would not please Hindu nationalists. And I would want to figure out why Ben, the book reviewer, has excluded the shampoo makers.
The author of this book cautions that the expectation of success has infected India’s privileged classes with “a premature spirit of triumphalism” that could prove self-defeating, a case of counting chickens before they are eggs. “India is not on an autopilot to greatness”, says NYT review quoting the author, “it would take an incompetent pilot to crash the plane”.
The Edward Luce prescription:Improve education, strengthen liberal democracy, develop a coherent energy strategy and radically revise the transport system before the country’s car population swells from 40 million today to an expected 200 million by 2030 and brings the entire country to a chocking standstill.
My question: Can we accomplish all this? Sure, all it takes would be a miracle mindset-change in our people and policy-makers alike.