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Sashi's fluid style of writing is brought out well in his discriptions of the complexity of blending old and new in India. In this book Tharoor argues that as a nation India has not achieved its goal, with huge problems plaguing the country such as abject poverty, illiteracy, rundown healthcare systems, separatist movements in Punjab, Kashmir, and the North East.
The book is a comprehensive analysis of all walks of India life, post-1947. but the focus of the book is politics and the criminalisation in Indian politics. While rejoicing democracy in Indian, he presents a analytical but critical view of the decline of Indian politics under the Congress and Nehru-Gandhi family. He discribes Indira Gandhi as "autocratic," Sanjay Gandhi as 'thuggish," Rajiv Gandhi as pilot with no sense of political wisdom and Madam Sonia as 'less educated, but somehow hyped as a Cambridge scholar by Indian media'. The book is an interesting read on Indira Gandhi's emergency rule, subsequent election debacle, rise of the right-wing Hindutva brigade and economic reforms.
The book is easy to read and insightful on the pros and cons faced in India being a democracy, with its emphasis on consensus and mandate. The inaction of govenment and difficulty in taking tough decisions on any front, whether it is the economic reforms initiated a decade ago or the population control program to curtail Indian burgeoning numbers. Yet, there is strenght in India's pluralism, its blend of people who have no single common thread of language, caste, creed, costume or custom to unite them.
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