By Samir Shukla
Superfast Primetime Ultimate Nation
The Relentless Invention of Modern India
Author: Adam Roberts
Journalist Adam Roberts spent five years in India as the Economist's Southeast Asia correspondent based in Delhi. In this book he collates his reporting over the years - traveling the country, interviewing everyone from farmers, tech innovators to millionaires and Prime Ministers. His observations showcase India's enormous potential as well as problems that hold the country back from this potential. Endemic corruption rears its usual head when anyone analyzes India, but Roberts also notes rising improvements in bureaucracy and infrastructure. He analyzes and critiques many from Congress and BJP, Narendra Modi, Rahul Gandhi, Arvind Kejriwal, Sonia Gandhi, Manmohan Singh and other politicians.
“Politics has always been fiendishly messy in the continent masquerading as a country. It has never been easy to get a grip on the place, especially for outsiders," he writes.
Roberts writes with a reporter's objectivity and an analyst's studied views. He has experienced India well while living and working there. Historical primers further cement this story of an ever-evolving India. His basic premise is how India can become a great power, exert more influence abroad while gaining further domestic stability. He offers suggestions and policy initiatives, admittedly some are vague and a bit grand in short-term achievability, but he offers intelligent advice that can assist the work of anyone genuinely interested in improving India's many problems. The world's largest democracy has a lot going for it, a youthful population, liberal constitution, general stability, but the country's complicated social and cultural dynamics thwart or at least slow down progress.
Roberts tells interesting tales to bring his reportage to life, assessing problems such as corruption, the treatment of women and Dalits, the degradation of common resources such as water, air and sand, while lending a sympathetic viewpoint of someone who clearly admires the country.
This is a balanced tome for those interested in modern India and its brighter future that can be unleashed if proper governance and leadership are focused while corruption is reduced.
This review appears in the October 2017 edition of Saathee magazine.
By Samir Shukla
The Canadian band Rakkatak, consisting of core duo Anita Katakkar on tabla and Oriana Barbato on bass, blends classical Indian rhythms and a dash of pop to make eclectic music. Katakkar is a versatile tabla player infusing the aesthetic of classical Indian music with just enough experimentation to make the music her own. She is traditionally trained with an ear for contemporary music. It's a treat to hear a woman on an instrument that is generally dominated by male players. Katakkar began work several years ago with her tabla and laptop to weave a mix of classical Indian music and electronica. She conducts tabla workshops in and around her native Toronto where her Indian and Scottish heritage is further informed by the multicultural ethos of that city. She studied tabla in California with Ritesh Das and in Kolkata with the legendary tabla master Pandit Swapan Chaudhuri.
Barbato's bass channels her Chilean heritage while exploring many cultures in her playing.
The group released their third recording Small Pieces this past spring with several guests lending their talents. The album is formed with a couple of intriguing covers, “Medley feat. Norwegian Wood," channels the Beatles while the cover of Rush's “YYZ" is reworked where tabla and bass clearly respect the original while taking it further into new musical realms. Vocalist Samidha Joglekar adds a vocal sway to the track “Thoughts of You." The rest of the collection includes the solid tracks “Dreaming," “Heliosphere," “Eesha's Song," “Rain After the Fire," and “Riffing on 9."