Saturday, April 11, 2015

Being Indian by Pavan K. Varma (IFS)

To someone whose first book on the subject of 'India' was India Unbound, it comes as a natural acceptance that Being Indian by Pavan K Varma is its distant cousin. Cursory in depth and undulating in themes, the book falls short to educate me. Most importantly because a decade in an Emerging market is as transformational as a small war. A lot has changed in the last decade, especially in favour of naysayers as against the advocates of unstoppable growth engine India was thought to have become at the start of this century. Perhaps, thus was the need for him to write its sequel, Becoming Indian. 

There are no more than the rhetoric solutions on offer
and even though there have been few successful periodic books (post independence period), which can stand the test of time, like The Idea of India, The Argumentative Indian, this is just too short to be suggested in its genre. However, in pieces, sometimes, somewhere it came up well. Like in the explanation of the resilience of Indians in last part, in going to lengths about the prevalence and functioning of democracy (bringing in the works of Ashutosh Varshney). Varma points out that the scale of problems are so wide that we barely avoid a socialistic revolution and in order to heed to this anger a common, unprivileged person is given some minimum power in the form of democracy, just to avoid that systemic fall out. 

The book actually lives up well to its title and comes up as an Essay on what Indian-ness is, rather than what India is. On a personal note I  would keep this in close relation to a book titled Mother Pious Lady by Santosh Desai which does exceedingly well in what it says. 

Rating: 6.5/10