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Social Science. Luce shows that India is an economic rival to the United States in an entirely different sense from China. 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 timesSocial Science. Luce shows that India is an economic rival to the United States in an entirely different sense from China. 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....

Title : In Spite of the Gods: The Strange Rise of Modern India
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ISBN : 9780385514743
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 400 Pages
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In Spite of the Gods: The Strange Rise of Modern India Reviews

  • Caroline
    2018-08-25 16:07

    .Warning - this review contains many spoilersIn Luce’s book, India is a land of a few brilliant high flyers on the one hand, and poverty-stricken masses on the other. The high flyers have brought success to their homeland, but he barely touches up their achievements, instead the book concentrates on the wrongs experienced by the bulk of the population. I found the book quite a hotch-potch of information , but fascinating nonetheless.Problems with the bulk of the poplulation*There is fantastically strict employment legislation , ie it is almost impossible to get rid of a worker, however badly they perform. As a result Indian employers seldom employ people within the legitimate work sector. Instead they have concentrated on improving their machinery – so that as many processes as possible are mechanised. Their factories are sophisticated, using low manpower. The bulk of the population is unable to find properly organized, legislated and reliable employment. *General levels of education and literacy are very low, 65% compared to 90% in China. Again this makes the bulk of people unemployable in the modern workplace. At the very top, education is excellent, but for most people it is not good at all.*There is much less urbanisation in India than in China, yet rural agriculture( in its current form of small plots of land with low technical support) cannot support the people who farm it. There is also a lack of infrastructure (like good roads), to help the farmers get their products to market. *There are high levels of corruption throughout India – but perhaps particularly in government services and public utility industries. Money that is earmarked to help those in poverty seldom gets to its destination. It’s is argued that up to 84% gets siphoned off by bureaucracy. Those who are wealthy on the other hand tend to work the system. “If you are rich and important you rarely pay. If you are poor, you usually pay through the nose.”*The caste system is alive and well in India. This applies to Muslims as well as to Hindus. The untouchable castes like the Dulits are not only spurned by the upper castes, but have issues with other castes at the bottom of the ladder as well. Politics in India is hugely geared up to castes. Hindu – the top castes, The Congress Party – a sort of broad middle range of castes, and independent politicians – they represent the different casts at the bottom of society. A lot of the independent politicians have criminal records – almost 100 of India’s 545 members of parliament have been indicted in some respect. Most of all, people are loyal to their caste. When they vote – they vote for their caste party.Caste prejudices are much more active in rural India than in the cities, but even in the cities there are still barriers between castes.In an effort to counteract caste prejudice a large number of government jobs have been given to untouchables via a process of positive discrimination. Percentages of jobs are allocated to them - eg in Tamil Nadu 69% of government jobs are given to Dalits. As a result of this initiative it has proved very hard to reform the country’s bloated bureaucracy and instil a system of meritocracy.All over India, every year, people are killed as a result of caste violence. At its worst it can be horrendous. In 1992 in Gujarat, 3,000 people were killed, mostly Muslims killed by Hindus, and there was little justice afterwards - only a handful of people were convicted of murder.The high flyers*India’s success lies in fields like softwear, pharmaceuticals, and complex manufacturing. Its current rate of growth is 7%, and if this continues, its economy will double every 12 years. At this rate, in the 2020s, it will overtake Japan, to become the third largest economy in the world.*India is also in the early stages of an off-shore revolution in services (eg providing services in India that used to be done by other countries themselves, like long distance IT support). There are many tasks that can be remotely undertaken in India for half the price (or even less) of what they cost to undertake in the west.America’s relationship with IndiaAmerica is very supportive of the economic rise of India, and has very strong ties with India too.* It likes the fact India is a democracy.*It likes India’s responsible attitude towards its nuclear weapons.*There are now two million people of Indian origin in the USA, and they now have a strong voice in American politics. They are the richest ethnic group in the States.*India’s softwear sector gets 80% of its earnings from American customers.* India provides the highest number of foreign students to the USA, and takes up the largest share of annual visas for foreign technical workers (mostly softwear engineers).* One in four business start-ups in Silicon Valley are launched by non-resident Indians.* India is seen as the only country that can possibly counterbalance China’s rise as a global power.*The one grain of discord is that India is looking to Iran for its energy requirements, and America does not like this.~~~~~~~~~~~~0~~~~~~~~~~~~~Luce also discusses lots of other issues:* India’s relationship with Pakistan (between officials this is often hostile, but between ordinary people, very friendly).* Kashmir – This has a largely Muslim population, but more than anything it is now just seeking peace. The “Line of Control” in Kashmir (the LOC) is the border between Pakistan-administered Kashmir and India-administered Kashmir. Both Pakistan and India have nuclear power . “The LOC is often referred to as the most dangerous nuclear flashpoint in the world”.* Child labour (closely tied in to levels of literacy)* Child brides (According to one estimate 15% of girls in India’s poorest states get married at or below the age of 10).* Birth rates and gender issues; problems with a low female birth rate are often exacerbated by the extortionate costs of weddings and dowries, and the low levels of education given to many women.* The fascinating history of the Nehru/Gandhi dynasty as leaders of The Congress Party* The worrying prejudices of the Hindu Nationalist Party (the BJP)…luckily so far only briefly in power.*Justice – the (poor) quality of policing, and the inordinate length time it takes for cases to appear in court (in 2006 there was a backlog of 27 million cases, and it can take 15 years for some trials to be heard).* Politicians - these are currently of poor quality “Indian politicians often profess a passionate commitment to a subject or a cause and then do not bother to show up for the debate, the committee process or even the final vote. The Speaker of India’s parliament frequently has to adjourn proceedings because MPs are unable to maintain discipline.”Finally, Luce describes four areas of importance for India’s success in the future.*The challenge of lifting 300 million people out of poverty-Modernise farming -Improve infrastructure-Better facilities for education and health.-More urban employment* Environmental good practices. At the moment both air and water quality are bad, and affecting Indian citizens. India is also set to become a greater consumer of energy, and this needs to be handled with care.*Protecting and strengthening India’s democracy.* Preventative health initiatives to stop the rise of HIV- AIDS. Currently only 1% of Indians suffer with this problem, but its escalation in other countries suggests it needs to be monitored.~~~~~~~~~~0~~~~~~~~~~This book is a best-seller in India – and what greater compliment could there be? Having said that, I found it a bit of a mish-mash, and felt it could have been better organised. To some extent this was counterbalanced by an excellent index.My review has been its usual list of bullet points (useful for me, but it doesn’t make the heart sing). As such I haven’t touched upon the wonderful anecdotes and interviews that are scattered throughout the book. Luce is a great journalist and observer, with a wry eye for telling foibles - and I very much enjoyed his interviews. Most of all the book was a great education. My knowledge of India was pathetic, and this was a great introduction to a fascinating country.

  • Arjun
    2018-09-11 19:31

    I'll be frank - each part of the book is factual and correct. Yet, it misses the mark as whole. Reading Mr. Luce's biography, I had expected he is a westerner (for want of a better word) who also understands the spirit of what drives India as a nation. After reading his book, I have realized yet again, that living in India with a mindset of a non-Indian makes you a good factual historian but not someone who can put a finger on India's nerve. Most of his book is spent on the corruption and individual egos of India's political system and very little on what makes the nation tick and continuously grow despite overwhelming challenges. If the reader is a westerner who has either not been to India, or has been to India with a mindset of assuming all things West is correct, they will enjoy this book. Its is completely factual. What is unfortunate however is Mr Luce's choice to focus 80% of the book on all the issues and less than 20% on the positives. The remainder of the book, I found, is unnecessarily full of tongue in cheek jabs of politicians or people of prominence in India - what they said, vs. what he humorously thought. What I liked what Luce's thorough research of all facts. There were many things I learned in terms of facts. What I did not like is his book is titled 'The Rise of Modern India (Despite the gods)' but its more apt to rename it as 'I can't believe the Rise of India'. I can't accuse him of misstating facts - but do point a finger at him for not being even in their selection. A nation does not move ahead if its whole is lesser than the sum of parts. My next book in line is Shashi Tharoor's 'The Elephant, the Tiger and the Cellphone' - another book that talks about the meteoric yet odd rise of India, but from the viewpoint of a person who probably understands India much more than a person outside can. I haven't read it yet, but will surely comment on compared to Mr. Luce's style.

  • Theresa Mannix
    2018-09-24 15:09

    My limited view of India was of a country of Bollywood movies, curry, Indian customer service call centers, poverty, hundreds of millions of people, slums and more poverty. This pretty readable book gave me a, well, broader view of India. It's a crazy place--incredible diversity with a democracy that seems to work. Some facts just stuck with me: less than 10% of India's 1.1 billion people work in the formal work force and 80% of them work for the government. The bureaucracy is monumentally corrupt--most workers don't even show up for work but still get paid. There are more than 600,000 Indian villages--most without electricity or running water. There is only a 65% literacy rate. Most do not go to school (the teachers don't show up)but the tech universities churn out thousands of brilliant engineers. The caste system is alive and well, mostly as an economic classifier. We think our Christian fundamentalists are a threat to US civil liberties? The Hindu nationalist movement makes them look like pussycats.In Spite of the Gods gives you an idea of the forces that have shaped India--religious, historic, economic, cultural. There are some good anecdotes, interviews and enough data to satisfy anyone. And, since India will surpass China in population this century, and it's a nuclear power, and its economy will become the 3rd largest pretty soon, maybe we should take a look at it a bit more closely. "Remember, India always wins," as the author says.

  • Murugan
    2018-09-19 19:09

    Here's my review on this bad book on amazon."I am sure at the end of this review most of you will stamp me as fanatic who 's not willing to see the shortfalls of India. However, please consider my observation before making your decision. I was disappointed in this book because it has no point! Am not sure he established why india is successful or if it was inspite of the gods. In my opinion, this was a feeble attempt by a journalist who was not qualified to comment on either one of the topics. My biggest complaint about this book is that, unless i missed it completely, not one action or effort by the hindus, politicians or indians in general was good enough. If there was a compliment, and there weren't a whole lot, it was qualified with a smart remark or it was labeled as a fluke. In addition, none of the chapters is related to one another and or to the main theme. In my opinion, this is the product of an establishment (british educational/journal) that's based on colonialism and superiority complex and one that's eagerly waiting for the fall of a democratic nation they once ruled. Nothing about this book or the author leads me to believe that he has any affection or respect for India. I think John Keay's book on India is far more objective and accurate than this. Awful book."

  • Satyaki Mitra
    2018-09-01 16:06

    An extensively researched and comprehensive book which provides some fascinating insights into the workings of the modern Indian political and economic system. The book is replete with quotes of conversations with not just local and national politicians but also judges,entrepreneurs,social activists and so on, some of these conversations in the interviews(that are sprawling throughout the book) are exceedingly interesting.The wide ranging discussions on India's economy like it's capital-intensive nature, as compared to China's Labor-intensive nature are also quite enlightening and shows the differing trajectories that both countries have followed to achieve their varying degrees of economic success. The author also does a brilliant job at showing the alarming disparity between rural and urban India, the various issues related to caste and religion are also discussed in great detail although some of those topics could have been more sensitively tackled.All in all, I would definitely recommend this book especially for bureaucrats and politicians who would benefit greatly from the book, if they make an honest effort to understand the true nature of the problems that currently plague the nation.

  • Wilson Tomba
    2018-09-13 19:24

    Engagingly written and a very good primer for all those interested in India. If after finishing this book you feel hungry for more, I'd recommend you pick up a more scholarly account of Indian History such as this one:

  • Nathan
    2018-08-31 21:23

    Edward Luce remains obstinately superficial throughout this book, approaching India as a mass statistic or collective social trend, rather than an organic, dynamic country. It can be a little slow and, I think, reductive, though that's not to say his observations don't have any truth to them. Much of his observations, are, however, pretty obvious, or have been made elsewhere. This is a broad and studied book, but not engaging, as Luce almost completely ignores the social atmosphere of India (a shameful omission, if you ask me) in favor of stats and facts about GDP's, life expectancies, and tax rates. Useful information, but not all that interesting, delivered as it was with no human interest. This read like a slightly-embellished encyclopedia entry.

  • Raghu
    2018-08-31 21:04

    This book by Edward Luce, a British journalist who served many years in India, is a very insightful study of the complexities and contradictions of today's India and its development. It doesn't get carried away by India's burgeoning IT sector or its middle class or its pharmaceutical and other sectors which are doing well in a globalized world. It balances it with disturbing facts such as the following:that only 0.1% of India's workforce is employed by the IT sector; that only 0.7% India's workforce is involved in manufacturing; that only 3.5% India pays its taxes...But it also gives credit to the great institution of Indian democracy in spite of multitudes of differences in religion, caste, language and class. Over all, it cautions India not to get carried away by statistics and super power ambitions but stay focussed on lifting rural India out of poverty and bring it into the 21st century, as otherwise the stability and continuity of its march towards future greatness would be compromised. Of course, he is very critical of the Indian bureaucracy which he says is a mafia-like presence in the lives of ordinary, hard-working peasants and urban people.There have been many who have predicted India's demise in the future since independence and the country has proved them all wrong, both on the political left and the right. Edward Luce does not crystal gaze. He is just a sympathetic observer of India and just like Indians themselves, would like it to achieve its potential.I would recommend the book to anyone who is interested in today's India and its rise.

  • James Eckman
    2018-08-31 16:15

    While a few years old, it's still a good read on the subject since it covers the development of post-colonial India and not just current events. If you haven't read any general history on modern India, this would make a good start. Most of the problems in covered in this book are still there and there seems to be little change. The level of corruption mentioned in the book seems insane, but 1800's America had similar levels. On the other hand, the Indian voting system is more modern and efficient than the US with better access to the polls. While there are worries about tampering, it's probably no worse than in the US. A fascinating look at a most diverse democracy that's taken a very different modernization path from all the rest. What's up with the title? Many of the political problems come from upper caste Hindu thinking.

  • kaśyap
    2018-08-30 21:22

    Pretty good observational/journalistic account of contemporary India from the perspective of a foreign observer. Documents many challenges that India faces like the all encompassing corruption, rising inequality, and Hindu nationalism. A good book as far as the presentation of facts is concerned but not so much regarding some of his conclusions or suggestions.

  • Ved Gupta
    2018-09-19 16:32

    I was not very excited when I picked up this book (title hinted towards religious philosophy in India) but surprisingly this book turned out to be spell-bounding work on contemporary India. Even though Edward Luce has much of his background in financial reporting, he captured the philosophy and details of rising India quite beautifully. Edward Luce knows how India works and how the society moves here. The book is full of interviews with small and big names varying from Narendra Modi, Sonia Gandhi, Mulayam Singh Yadav to NGO chiefs such as Aruna Roy. Each episode and description is well researched and produced with stats and facts. Luce has touched upon almost every aspect of modern India ranging from 300 million poor to thriving IT Businesses, 40 years of single party government to coalition culture, India intrinsic security problems to its relation with United States and China. Luce discusses at length India’s relationship with Pakistan and enlightens his readers with India’s policy towards Pakistan. Edwards has written a lot about Hindu Nationalism in this book covering Babri Mosque demolition of 1992 and Gujarat riots of 2002 as a major turn of events in Hindu nationalism. He has not about any positive aspect of Hindu nationalism and I don’t mind that because there isn’t any. In many separate discussions, Luce has proved that much of religious talks in India are a result of political ambitions which is very true. The failure of caste politics to improve the conditions of the caste they were representing has been captured nicely by Luce, evident from his interview with Mulayam Singh Yadav, who was more interested in showing his lavishes then discussing the plight of UP population. The books which only portray problems for readers are often incomplete and that’s why Luce took care to suggest the actions that need to be taken in order to sustain this rapidly changing democratic country. With a clear understanding of India and its society, Luce has made this book the best ever written on modern India.

  • Deirdre
    2018-09-02 15:09

    Suppose you threw a dinner party and your guests represented the entire population of the world. You only have 22 seats at your table, so some gusts must share. Because of its dangerous nature, you decide that the US gets one whole seat to itself. India gets almost four of your remaining chairs and China takes up the next four and a half. By contrast, England must share its seat with five other nations. Clearly when you take up that many plates, you should be paid some respect. Yet other than talking about India's foray into the service economy, including articles about outsourcing US jobs to a youthful and educated workforce, few news stories discuss India's complexities. Edward Luce offers a peak into his experiences of living, traveling, and reporting from there for five years. Luce touches on India's non-violent struggle to break the chains of British colonialism led by Mohandas Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru through its leadership in the Non-Aligned movement that sought to unite "third-world" countries who tried to remain neutral during the Cold War. He also discusses the immense diversity of the population from the various "castes" to the relations between Muslim and Hindu religious followers (including the break off of Pakistan in 1947 when the British made a formal partition). He interviewed leaders of some of the country's strongest political parties and discussed the legacy of the British rule including a sustained bureaucracy and the economic North/South divide that characterizes the country today.By necessity the book can only scratch the surface, but it was a pleasure to glimpse a small slice one of the most populous and important countries in the world.

  • Laura
    2018-09-11 16:05

    I'm traveling to India in March and knew next to nothing about India when I started this book. I came away with a much better understanding of the conflicts and dichotomies India grapples with as exponential development continues: Hindus and Muslims, Brahmins and Dalits, rapid urban development and abject rural poverty, democracy and corruption. For the most part, I found Luce informative and engaging. The material could be dry, but I appreciated that he spiced it up with anecdotes and vignettes. I also appreciated that Luce wasn’t afraid or embarrassed to ask the pointed questions that I always wonder: really, you believe that cow urine cures cancer? Really, you’re making strides against poverty when the government eats 70 percent of the aid money? That said, those pointed questions could come off as distinctly holier-than-thou, and Luce's smugness is hard to take at points. I also would have preferred more analysis and prescription to cap off the description. But all in all, this is a very good crash course in Indian politics and culture, and it gave me much more confidence about my upcoming trip.

  • Alicia
    2018-09-12 20:24

    Excellent book that attempts to grasp the multi-tentacled creature that is modern India. It's written in a relaxed manner, with insightful commentary on many topics, including India's challenged economy, state-approved corruption, Hindu nationalism, and the upcoming AIDS pandemic.I especially appreciated the first chapter on India's economy. It's hard to understand India's claim to global power status when millions upon millions of its people continue to live in crushing poverty.What is the answer to India's poverty?Quoting the current Prime Minister and brilliant economist Manmohan Singh, "Our biggest single problem is the lack of jobs for ordinary people. We need employment for the semi-skilled on a large scale, and it is not happening to anything like the degree we are witnessing in China. We need to industrialize to provide jobs for people with fewer skills. Why is it not happening on the scale we would hope? Because we are not as single minded as China in pursuing our goals in a clear manner". p.41Yes. Yes. And yes. Read this book if you're remotely interested in India as a country and global influencer. I already need to read it again.

  • Sumirti Singaravel
    2018-08-28 18:27

    Of all the books which purports to portray India in its recent times, this one by Mr.Luce does a greater justice to the subject at hand and the land it intends to portray. The essays on the Indian bureaucracy(which most often than not is bureau'crazy') and the unbiased account of the plight of untouchables and the raise of middle class makes the whole reading worthy. Definitely an admirable work.

  • Karel Baloun
    2018-09-25 14:10

    Luce explains modern India as few can, having lived in country for 5 years and married. He gives tough love, sprinkled with brilliant sardonic British humor. Massive caste, gender and rural gap in literacy and opportunity. Corrupting and sometimes illiterate politicians, and a national government (iAS) with millions of patronage jobs ripe with abuse and bribery. Thoroughly institutionalized government corruption, and socially accepted inequality due to caste and religious differences, hold 80% of India back. Massive differences between effective, modernizing states (Kerala, Tamil Madu) and bad states (like Bihar and Uttar Pradesh)."according to India's government, on any given day 1/3 of teachers are absent from government schools. In the state of be hard, lesson 3% of government schools have electricity and less than 20% of toilets for their teachers."p248How can a country like that have nuclear weapons and a space satellite program, and graduate some of the worlds top software engineers including the CEO of Google? Yet this data is confirmed by World Bank research as recently as 2004.“In a pattern that is familiar to India, the protests were carried out in the name of the poor, in spite of the fact that the poor would appear to be the victims of the status quo.” p211 Luce is writing about New Delhi water policy, but this is repeated more severely with internet.org and elitist net-neutrality arguments blocking all internet access for the poor.Uttar Pradesh, practice is India's most populous state, with 180 million people in the northern Hindi belt. In the 2017 elections, the BJP won a landslide victory over the Muslim/lower caste (MY) coalition, which had institutionalized corruption to the extent of looting 70-80% of development and poverty budgets. Chief minister of UP is Yogi Adityanath, a Hindu priest who has a history of communal violence within the RSS, a semi military far right Hindu nationalist "volunteer organization".Modi appears as head of the Indian state of Gujarat, where he presided over a massive riot that killed thousands of muslim neighbors, including women and children burned alive. Luce must feel aghast now that he is PM under a revived Hindu nationalist government, which Luce also derides repeatedly. For example, when the BJP rewrote textbooks in 1998, they declared Indus/Vedic civilization as the source of all global civilizations and omitted that Gandhi was killed by an Hindu nationalist.According to India's 2011 census, the child gender ratio in Mori's Gujarat was 886 girls for each 1000 boys. In Punjab, the other statebordering Pakistan, it is 846. Ultrasound meets crazy cultural gender bias.Dowries are increasing in price, as womens' families become more able to afford them. Is this "western materialism", or is the whole dowery system a disgusting anachronism? If five boys keep being born for every four girls, I can guess which one's going to be more valuable in 20 years.Perhaps 40 million children in India do not go to school, primarily because they are working as child labor. Laws formally private it, but it is seen as an inevitable consequence of poverty, and can only be improved through abstract changes in poverty. Specifically, the IKEA/UNICEF/Rugmark project does not avoid the child labor. p325"The notion that children should do what their parents do – and be denied, inadvertently or otherwise, the skills to make their own choice when they're old enough – is deeply conservative.[…] It provides and underpinning to the culture of the nepotism the afflicts politics” p327An executive managing 1500 people (3% of the company) at Infosys, earns US$50,000 per year, after ITT graduation, and tours the world visiting his customers. Caste doesn't matter to him or his peers, and we can hope this meritocracy is the future. p298 I noticed just one Londoner/2007-style mistake: "India has nothing to fear from further financial liberalization." p340

  • Michael Connolly
    2018-09-03 16:21

    The author is a reporter for the British newspaper, the Financial Times, who is married to an indian woman.Mohandas K. Gandhi was a proponent of a traditional, rural India. The main political party in India is the Congress Party, whose most famous leader was Jawaharlal Nehru. Nehru was a proponent of British culture. Nehru was born a Brahmin, but did not support the caste system. His support of Fabian socialism and disdain for capitalism came in part from his dislike of the bania castes of moneylenders and traders, who are lower than the Brahmin in the Hindu pecking order. Nehru was a secularist who disliked religious ritual. Ali Jinnah, leader of the Muslim League and founder of Pakistan, was not an observant Muslim. In fact he drank whiskey and ate pork. Since its creation, Pakistan has become less secular and more Islamic. Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) is a movement of Hindu nationalists that supports the theory that the Aryans, who originated the Hindu religion, originated in India. Scientific evidence shows that the Aryans originated outside of India and invaded India several thousand years ago. The original inhabitants of India were actually the Dravidians, who now live in southern India, and speak southern Indian languages such as Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam. The political wing of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh is the Bharatiya Janata Party. The assassin of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi came from a family associated with RSS.Bhimrao Ambedkar was a Dalit (untouchable) who championed the Dalits and opposed India's caste system. In India for thousands of years, your caste has determined your profession and who you could marry. India has the largest affirmative action program in the world. It reserves government jobs for Dalits. One source of support for the Bharatiya Janata Party has been a backlash against affirmative action for Dalits. Perhaps India's main problem is its bloated and corrupt government bureaucracy, which employs a huge number of people. India has produced many high tech jobs for its educated elite, but, unlike China, India has failed to produce blue collar manufacturing jobs for its peasants to move into. So the main hope for poor people is to get a government job. Government officials have a lot of income, because of all the bribes they receive. In Mumbai, because of the slowness of the criminal court system, and the fact that rich criminals can buy corrupt judges, the police have developed an informal system of assassinating the worst criminals.

  • Diane Brown
    2018-08-31 13:07

    This was a great book to read. Written in a style that comments on India but very easy on the reader, mostly avoiding economic and political jargon. Luce, writes about India from his perspective as a journalist and having lived and married in that country. Some of the text highlights interviews he has had with opinion shapers in IndiaHe explores the Ghandi-Nehru political dynasty and legacy on Indian politics, governance style and social dynamic in an informative way, as well as India's growing participation in global politics and economy. The comparison to China is welcomed - showing the different development paths that the two most populous countries are pursuing. Resulting for example in China having a much higher literacy rates and human development indicators (UN) than India, though India has a more plural society - this part of the book made for some very interesting reading and thought about development pathsThe book also comments on India's foreign policy, and on the close ties between USA and India and its relationship with Pakistan. The history of the formation of Pakistan and Sri Lanka, relations with Russia, China, etc very useful in this book.He comments too on the "sanctity of the village" stating that this has been both a hindrance and facilitator to India dealing with its massive poverty and stark inequalities. He describes the challenges India faces as Herculean - some of them being HIV/Aids pandemic and the less than bold steps that Indian leaders take to deal decisively with it; growing population (expected to overtake China) and the need to protect its liberal democracy.I would have liked to read more about the legacy of British Colonialism and its impact on India today, and more societal issues - relating this to culture, caste, colonialism and religion. Although he does deal at length with caste and the various movements to deal with oppression of the Dalits. I learnt that India has the largest affirmative action programme in the world (aimed at lower castes (Dalits) where in some provinces, quotas are set at 65 percent. Another part of the book that surprised me was the nuance of political engagement of Dalits in India's political processGenerally would recommend this book to anyone who wants to know more about India and its relevance and relation to other nationalities and its prospects in emerging as a major global player

  • Mohan Ram
    2018-08-29 21:18

    A comprehensive take on contemporary India, that also attempts the most difficult task of trying to analyse why India is India! Found it eminently readable, very perceptive with its insights and written with a combination of affection and frustration that all of us can relate to. The tone remains optimistic about India's future in the twenty-first century but there is also abundant sprinkling of caution - it is up to India to lose! All Indian bureaucrats and politicos should get a complimentary copy ! Here are a few extracts that struck a chord, read on...."To India's poor the state is like an abusive father whom you can never abandon. It is through you that his (the state's) sins are likely to live on" (On relationship between the government, the poor and why Govt. Jobs are still so coveted among large parts of society)"In a society that does not often acknowledge the worth and value of individuals, where the visible means of proving one's worth through substantial achievement are open only to a few, corruption is a way of saying you are somebody" (Quoting Pratap Bhanu Mehta from "The Burden of Democracy")"...if you are rich and important, you rarely pay. If you are poor, you usually pay through the nose. And there is no guarantee that you will even get what you paid for" (Describing how New Delhi operates using an example of his experience in trying to watch a cricket match)"Coteries encircle the leadership, insulate it from the workers and block channels of communication. They misrepresent all discussions and differences as proof of disloyalty" Quoting a Congressman who had bid for leadership against Sonia Gandhi"The State has internalised the message of the Bhagvad Gita - only intentions matter and not consequences" {Again quoting Pratap Bhanu Mehta in a discussion about how the Indian state has strict laws and principles embedded in the 1950 constitution for many rights (eg. child education) but in practice nothing really gets implemented (upto forty million children do not attend school)}

  • kareem
    2018-09-08 15:14

    my cousin from delhi gave me this, and i read it while traveling in india.it's a great overview of where india is and is poised to go in the 21st century. luce explains india's dynasty politics (nehru/gandhi) and religious context to help the reader understand how india's bureaucracy, system of government, conflict with pakistan, treatment of muslims, relationship with china and the US, and current economic drivers will play a role in india becoming the next great superpower. his conclusion is that achieving greatness is "india's to lose", though there are big obstacles standing in its way. some of the biggest include unfireable gov't employees, rampant corruption, and well-intentioned policies that don't help india's massive poor population out of poverty. a fascinating read if you want a broad overview of india's potential in the 21st century.---242: on india's first cricket match vs. pakistan, in karachi: "every indian i met said he had been treated like a long-ost brother; shopkeepers had refused to accept their cash; taxi-drivers had declined fares; hotels were waiving bills; and people kept approaching them on the streets to offer sweets and other small gifts. 'it is overwhelming' same one among a group of indian men, all dressed in the blue shirts of their national team. 'we didn't know what to expect but we feared there would be hostility'. india won the game and received a prolonged ovation from the vast pakistan crowd.329: laws are a modern talisman intended to bring results by the magical power of words themselves. hundreds of years ago, foreign chroniclers of india observed the tendency of Brahmins to prefer words to action, and sometimes to believe they were one and the same thing. what appears to be chaotic on the surface is often just how it should be."remember, india always wins". India has a way of confounding you and still making you laugh abut it.

  • Rama
    2018-08-29 19:10

    Clearly a book intended to introduce the mess that is India to non-Indian audience; nothing new is to be gleaned from it. A condescending tone permeates proceedings for the most part, with only the India-China-US relations bit having the capability to incite interest. As a financial journalist, Edward Luce tends to wear numbers as the cloak of well-intentioned objectivity - this does not mean anything other than the predictable favoring of the market economy, the population-related issues, the caste system, the contradictions between consumerism and cultural conservatism within modern India, corruption and so on.There is a sneaking suspicion that the book is motivated more by the ease of exploiting India than by any form of Olympian objectivity - Edward Luce is even married into an Indian family. As an aside, the author cites an incident in which he was denied entry to the Ferozshah Kotla to watch an India-Pakistan cricket match because of VIP infestation. Two years later, Arun Jaitley gives him the chance to experience an India-Pakistan match through the "influence" way - and the author accepts. Although "shamelessly" is used to describe his acceptance of the Arun Jaitley offer, one wonders if all this has to do with "when you're in Rome, be a Roman but when you're outside India, adopt market-informed secular humanism to patronize it."

  • Rajesh Kurup
    2018-09-19 15:07

    I would recommend this book to people who are interested in learning more about the current state of India and it's recent rise. Luce, a journalist with the Financial Times who has extensively covered India and South Asia gives a good, broad overview of many topics. As an Indian-American, I can certainly appreciate the enormous complexity that is India and I think that Luce breaks India down into bite-sized pieces. His major topics include the intrusion of the state into Indian life and commerce, the threat of Hindu nationalism, the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty and its lingering impact upon modern India as well as the inter-regional and global implications of modern India. He does a really good job when he talks about the Kashmir conflict and explaining the impasse. He states that India is reluctant to give Kashmir away because with the Muslim-majority Kashmir, India can be defined as a secular nation. Without Kashmir, it makes it easier to make the argument that India is a Hindu nation. The implications of that would be grave for the Muslims in India.

  • Adeline
    2018-09-14 20:16

    I am not going to lie - I have never been a huge fan of politics or everything that goes on here in the name of governance. I loathe reading newspapers, paying attention to vehement debates on TV and forming a political opinion of any sorts. But it is nice to know I've caught up (at least somewhat) with all the political science I've ignored thus far by reading this book. And it is indeed enlightening. To compare a relatively new country like America and India seemed rather obvious in my head before, but now it sounds extremely absurd. India - as a country right now - is the consequence of every little pin prick that has been afflicted on it in its very long history - and to forget that while judging it would be remiss.The book is certainly Modern India in a nutshell - and if I could pick up a book like this every ten years or so instead of pouring over the newspapers everyday, I would be immensely grateful.

  • Luvh
    2018-09-10 21:11

    Well-researched and well-presented. Luce's style is engaging, and he turns a wry joke.The book comes at a good time as the West has never been more coo-coo for cocoa puffs about India. Most of these warm feelings are about India's relatively recent IT (and overall economic) revolution. To a lesser extent they are also about our resurgent (or maybe just surgent) interest in India's spiritual traditions. Luce disavows both narratives in the preface, and it's the realism of his approach that made this book interesting and refreshing for me. BUT to those people that believe strongly in those narratives (looking at you, Business Week and yoga instructors) the book may seem like a lot of pinko populism or colonialist finger wagging. I thought it was more like tough love (because there is love - Luce has lived in India for years, covered it for the Financial Times, and has married an Indian woman).

  • Utkarsh Sharma
    2018-09-04 14:15

    A practical analysis of India and its political system,economy,diversity. Gave singnificant amount of words to all the major problems faced by India and Indians.I was not expecting a westerner to write such a book on India.

  • Theo Sottero
    2018-09-20 18:27

    I really enjoyed this book. Kim and I were going to India and I wanted to learn more about the political history and social structure of the country. It was comforting to see some of the things I observed during our trip discussed further in the book. Also, it helped me to pay attention to things I may not have noticed otherwise and helped start a number of conversations about modern day India with friends we met there.

  • Pankaj
    2018-09-04 14:33

    A poignant perspective by the editor of the financial times of the enigma that is India. How the country functions and how it grows is as big a mystery as how they get a deity of Lord Ganesha to drink milk. Nonetheless, the book offers some very interesting insight into the strengths and apparent weaknesses holding India. In Spite of the Gods: The Strange Rise of Modern India is as much of a testament to India's potential as a referendum on its weaknesses.

  • Kelly
    2018-09-25 21:24

    Mistitled here. It's not the "strange" rise of modern India, just "the rise of modern India." I don't usually dig nonfiction, but this was at once both an entertaining and illuminating look at modern India from an outsider who clearly knows the place well and loves it dearly. He's boiling the ocean, without a doubt, but it's a good primer. Just one person's perspective, but a well-researched, well-reasoned one.

  • Priya
    2018-08-30 18:22

    Very thought provoking analysis of India. While being critical, the Author's love for the country seems to come right through. The amount of history he covers is vast and sometimes he touches very fleetingly on subjects leaving you hungry for more. There are times when I felt, he generalised issues by stretching them over the entire country. To be fair, he does assert India's multifacetedness many times.All in all a good read.

  • Grania
    2018-09-03 18:15

    Fantastic summary of the contradictions of a developing world unbroken democracy, and unbroken civilisation. India is a huge nation of extremes difficult to summarise, and this book makes an excellent attempt at explaining the obvious disparity bewteen the engineering succeses of modern India, and the crushing poverty of the majority.