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In Spite of the Gods: The Strange Rise of Modern India (2006)

de Edward Luce

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7151131,822 (3.86)28
"India remains a mystery to many Americans, even as it is poised to become the worldʾs 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 Indiaʾs 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 Indiaʾs 600,000 villages. Yet amid all these extremes exists the worldʾs largest experiment in representative democracy-and a largely successful one, despite bureaucracies riddled with horrifying corruption."--From source other than the Library of CongressLuce 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 Indiaʾs rise, even welcoming it into the nuclear energy club, hoping to balance Chinaʾs 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 ʺhers to lose.ʺIncludes information on Afghanistan, agriculture, Bhimrao Ambedkar, Ayodhya, Bangalore, Bangladesh, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Brahmins, Buddhism, bureaucracy, George Bush, caste system, cattle, China, Christians, British colonialism, Congress Party, corruption, Dalits, democracy, economy, education, elections, electricity, equality, Indira Gandhi, Mohandas Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi, Great Britain, Gujarat, health care, Hindu nationalism, Hindus, Hinduism, industrialization, information technology, Japan, jobs, Kashmir, Kerala, literacy, lower castes, marriage, military, modernity, Narendra Modi, Mumbai (Bombay), Muslims, Jawaharlal Nehru, New Delhi, nuclear weapons, Pakistan, police, politics, poverty, Punjab, riots, roads, science, secularism, separatist insurgencies, Sikhs, Manmohan Singh, Soviet Union, taxes, television, terrorists, United States, upper castes, urbanization, Uttar Pradesh, Atal Behari Vajpayee, villages, water, etc.… (mais)
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Very Very Very Well researched book. The extent to which Edward has researched and the manner in which he has compiled the book is just GREAT. I strongly feel its a must read for all the Indian (to really make it a superpower by 2020 :)) ).
Hats off to Mr.Luce for coming up with an absolute stunner of a book ( )
  _RSK | Jan 26, 2016 |
A commentary on India thought the eyes of a foreigner. This guy is married to an Indian. He has travelled extensively to all parts of India and rubbed shoulders with a wide strata of people. The rich and not so rich movers and shakers as well as the true sons of the soil. He dwells extensively on the Caste System and Politics but does touch upon other aspects such as the Economy and it's primary constituents such as the IT industry, Agriculture, Manufacturing and entertainment/bollywood.

Though a lot of his observations are old hat to us folks who have lived in India for a while, some of his observations are indeed very interesting. A lot of it is arrived at after a lot of clinical analysis and will not be apparent or brought out by merely reading your daily newspaper.

The book is peppered with a lot of interesting titbits and statistics. Some of them are controversial and probably should be taken with a pinch of salt. Here is one such that I want to mention. The skewed female to male population ratio in Gujarat at around 850:1000. The reason for this, the very high rate of abortion for female fetuses esp among the very wealthy Jain community. The Jains he oberves go to extremes to protect life, vegeratians, don't eat root vegetables, wear masks over their mouths etc. to protect even invisible organisms but don't bat an eyelid when it comes to these abortions. Quite paradoxical indeed.

The book begins with the author's visit to Auroville in Pondicherry and his interviews with some of the residents there. That alone in my opinion will make this a worthwhile read.
  danoomistmatiste | Jan 24, 2016 |
A commentary on India thought the eyes of a foreigner. This guy is married to an Indian. He has travelled extensively to all parts of India and rubbed shoulders with a wide strata of people. The rich and not so rich movers and shakers as well as the true sons of the soil. He dwells extensively on the Caste System and Politics but does touch upon other aspects such as the Economy and it's primary constituents such as the IT industry, Agriculture, Manufacturing and entertainment/bollywood.

Though a lot of his observations are old hat to us folks who have lived in India for a while, some of his observations are indeed very interesting. A lot of it is arrived at after a lot of clinical analysis and will not be apparent or brought out by merely reading your daily newspaper.

The book is peppered with a lot of interesting titbits and statistics. Some of them are controversial and probably should be taken with a pinch of salt. Here is one such that I want to mention. The skewed female to male population ratio in Gujarat at around 850:1000. The reason for this, the very high rate of abortion for female fetuses esp among the very wealthy Jain community. The Jains he oberves go to extremes to protect life, vegeratians, don't eat root vegetables, wear masks over their mouths etc. to protect even invisible organisms but don't bat an eyelid when it comes to these abortions. Quite paradoxical indeed.

The book begins with the author's visit to Auroville in Pondicherry and his interviews with some of the residents there. That alone in my opinion will make this a worthwhile read.
  kkhambadkone | Jan 17, 2016 |
A fascinating overview of the modern India and an extremely insightful analysis of the problems it's facing and how it got here. ( )
  supremumlimit | May 16, 2012 |
Really enjoyed this. Good intro to India for the uninitiated, even better guide to India for those that already have the basics. Fasdcinating and well written buy someone that has spent plenty of time ther, is warm to the country but is inherently a westerner and iunconvined by the Indian spedisal cse. ( )
  anyotherbizniz | Sep 18, 2011 |
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"India remains a mystery to many Americans, even as it is poised to become the worldʾs 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 Indiaʾs 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 Indiaʾs 600,000 villages. Yet amid all these extremes exists the worldʾs largest experiment in representative democracy-and a largely successful one, despite bureaucracies riddled with horrifying corruption."--From source other than the Library of CongressLuce 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 Indiaʾs rise, even welcoming it into the nuclear energy club, hoping to balance Chinaʾs 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 ʺhers to lose.ʺIncludes information on Afghanistan, agriculture, Bhimrao Ambedkar, Ayodhya, Bangalore, Bangladesh, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Brahmins, Buddhism, bureaucracy, George Bush, caste system, cattle, China, Christians, British colonialism, Congress Party, corruption, Dalits, democracy, economy, education, elections, electricity, equality, Indira Gandhi, Mohandas Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi, Great Britain, Gujarat, health care, Hindu nationalism, Hindus, Hinduism, industrialization, information technology, Japan, jobs, Kashmir, Kerala, literacy, lower castes, marriage, military, modernity, Narendra Modi, Mumbai (Bombay), Muslims, Jawaharlal Nehru, New Delhi, nuclear weapons, Pakistan, police, politics, poverty, Punjab, riots, roads, science, secularism, separatist insurgencies, Sikhs, Manmohan Singh, Soviet Union, taxes, television, terrorists, United States, upper castes, urbanization, Uttar Pradesh, Atal Behari Vajpayee, villages, water, etc.

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