India: From Midnight to the Millennium

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9780060977535: India: From Midnight to the Millennium

"Few books in recent years, if any, offer such a comprehensive overview of what ails India, its politicians and its people; and few writers, apart from Nirad Chaudhury and V. S. Naipaul, benefit so obviously from the perspective Tharoor offers, that of an Indian with a profound empathy for his native culture, combined with the insight made possible by following India's progress from afar."
--New York Times

"A hard-hitting, powerfully analytical and supremely articulate new book. . . . Tharoor discusses the 'flawed miracle of Indian democracy' from various angles, opting for a take-no-prisoners approach as he criticizes politicians, unpacks layers of misguided governmental policies and exposes the atavistic tendencies of special-interest pols."
--Newsday

"Tharoor looks back at his country's first 50 years of independence, describing its challenges (illiteracy, poverty, sectarian violence and the ever-present caste problem) and its triumphs (a thriving democracy, a burgeoning economy) in lively, informative prose. He is particularly adept at describing all that India and Indians are not--not the same ethnicity, religion or language--to arrive at the nation's essence: that 'the singular thing about India was that you could only speak of it in the plural'."
--Seattle Times

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Review:

Author Shashi Tharoor has spent half of his life outside of India, yet his position as a "NRI" (Non-resident Indian) has given him the distance and perspective necessary to produce India: From Midnight to the Millennium, an in-depth critique of the country's first fifty years of independence. Tharoor, currently executive assistant to the secretary general of the United Nations, is known for both his fiction (The Great Indian Novel, Show Business) and his journalism; in this effort, he blends fine prose with a reporter's talent for analysis, resulting in a skillful examination of some of the greatest challenges India has faced over the past five decades, as well as what lies ahead for the nation.

In chapters devoted to such diverse topics as caste, the free-for-all nature of Indian democracy, the troubled legacy of Indira Gandhi, and the partition of India and Pakistan in 1947, Tharoor both explicates the history of India since independence and attempts to define what makes India one country and Indians of various ethnic, religious, and cultural backgrounds one nationality. He is forthright in his discussion of the sectarian violence that has ripped through the country, the corruption that is rife throughout the ranks of the Indian civil service, and the difficulties that face a nation in which 48 percent of the population remains illiterate. Yet Shashi Tharoor writes of these problems with a sense of optimism about the future, confident in the ability of his countrymen to find solutions within a democratic political system.

About the Author:

Shashi Tharoor has worked at the United Nations since 1978 and is the executive assistant to the secretary-general of the United Nations. He graduated from St. Stephen's College, Delhi, and took his doctorate from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts. His first novel, The Great Indian Novel, was published to international acclaim and won the Federation of Indian Publishers-Hindustan Times Literary Award (1989-90) and a 1990 Commonwealth Writers Prize.

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