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In Spite of the Gods: The Strange Rise of Modern Indiaby Edward Luce
Synopses & Reviews
India remains a mystery to many Americans, even as it is poised to become the worlds third largest economy within a generation, outstripping Japan. It will surpass China in population by 2032 and will have more English speakers than the United States by 2050. In In Spite of the Gods, Edward Luce, a journalist who covered India for many years, makes brilliant sense of India and its rise to global power. Already a number-one bestseller in India, his book is sure to be acknowledged for years as the definitive introduction to modern India.
In Spite of the Gods illuminates a land of many contradictions. The booming tech sector we read so much about in the West, Luce points out, employs no more than one million of Indias 1.1 billion people. Only 35 million people, in fact, have formal enough jobs to pay taxes, while three-quarters of the country lives in extreme deprivation in Indias 600,000 villages. Yet amid all these extremes exists the worlds largest experiment in representative democracyand a largely successful one, despite bureaucracies riddled with horrifying corruption.
Luce shows that India is an economic rival to the U.S. in an entirely different sense than China is. There is nothing in India like the manufacturing capacity of China, despite the huge potential labor force. An inept system of public education leaves most Indians illiterate and unskilled. Yet at the other extreme, the middle class produces ten times as many engineering students a year as the United States. Notwithstanding its future as a major competitor in a globalized economy, American. leaders have been encouraging Indias rise, even welcoming it into the nuclear energy club, hoping to balance Chinas influence in Asia.
Above all, In Spite of the Gods is an enlightening study of the forces shaping India as it tries to balance the stubborn traditions of the past with an unevenly modernizing present. Deeply informed by scholarship and history, leavened by humor and rich in anecdote, it shows that India has huge opportunities as well as tremendous challenges that make the future “hers to lose.”
"A burgeoning economic and geopolitical giant, India has the 21st century stamped on it more visibly than any other nation after China and the U.S. It's been an expanding force since at least 1991, explains journalist Luce, when India let go of much of the protectionist apparatus devised under Nehru after independence in 1947 from Britain, as part of a philosophy of swadeshi (or self-reliance) that's still relevant in India's multiparty democracy. From his vantage as the (now former) Financial Times's South Asia bureau chief, Luce illuminates the drastically lopsided features of a nuclear power still burdened by mass poverty and illiteracy, which he links in part to government control of the economy, an overwhelmingly rural landscape, and deep-seated institutional corruption. While describing religion's complex role in Indian society, Luce emphasizes an extremely heterogeneous country with a growing consumerist culture, a geographically uneven labor force and an enduring caste system. This lively account includes a sharp assessment of U.S. promotion of India as a countervailing force to China in a three-power 'triangular dance,' and generally sets a high standard for breadth, clarity and discernment in wrestling with the global implications of New India." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
These days, all U.S. eyes are on China and India, sizing them up as the next great political and economic players. While books on China are many, few have tackled India, where contradictions abound. The booming tech centers of its cities stand in stark contrast to the medieval poverty of its villages. Its fervent tradition of democracy is coupled with horrifying corruption. Its modern history as a secular and diverse nation is being challenged by the rise of Hindu nationalism. <BR>IN SPITE OF THE GODS is a vivid, illuminating look at the forces shaping India as it tries to balance the stubborn traditions of the past with an unevenly modernizing present. Edward Luce, a British journalist who covered India for many years, weaves his own keen reporting with the opinions and perceptions of Indians from all walks of life. He describes how India's two main parties inflame caste and religious tensions to win elections. He traces the relationship between the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty and the evolution of the world's largest experiment in representative democracy. And he reveals that India's technological revolution, which has been vilified as a threat to American prosperity, plays a tiny role in the overall Indian economy. <BR>Deeply informed by scholarship and history, IN SPITE OF THE GODS is the one book that people will read to understand why India has a long way to go at home, and yet is on its way to rivaling both China and America.
About the Author
EDWARD LUCE is the Washington bureau chief for the Financial Times. He was the papers South Asia bureau chief, based in New Delhi, between 2001 and 2006. From 1999–2000, Luce worked in the Clinton administration as the speechwriter to Treasury Secretary Larry Summers. Educated at Oxford and married into an Indian family, Luce now lives in Washington, D.C.
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