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.