Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Imagining India

Reading Nandan Nilekani's Imagining India is like have dinner at a lavish Indian wedding. Each course is tempting, rich and flavorful but with so much to choose from, even a diner with keenest appetite is unable to justice to the complete repast. Such was my experience with Nilekani's book. He covers an unbelievable amount of ground in a three hundred something page book and attempts to tackle the hydra headed monster that the task of understanding India is. There is historical perspective, the concerns of the present and the ideas that will shape the future.
Nilekani's tone is pragmatic, empathetic and even keeled. He does not subscribe either to the India Shining rhetoric or any of the doomsday prophesying. In Nilekani's view, the truth lies somewhere in between those extreme world views and the purpose of Imagining India is to get the reader to think about the many variables and forces at play that will determine where that truth might end up being. Whether you are from India or spent most of your life there or are an outsider who is curious about that country, you would find a lot to learn and ponder over reading this book.
The extensive glossary is invaluable for readers who want to revisit topics they found particularly interesting. It can also serve as a jumping off point for additional reading. I read about this book a couple of years ago and it has been on my to-read list ever since. Two years is usually enough time for a book about anything to become irrelevant and obsolete these days. It is one of the reasons, I wait a while before I read anything that is hyped a great deal. It is to Nilekani's credit that his ideas are completely apropos even now. I would highly recommend Imagining India to anyone who wants to read an exceptionally well researched, articulate and thought-provoking book about India.


Sri said...

You should also get around to reading Being India by Pavan Varma, much better take on India than most

Anonymous said...

India After Gandhi by Ramachandra Guha + Imagining India. Both complement each other.