Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Awakening India

Shashi Tharoor

Are India and China doomed to Great Power rivalry? Is the “moral” foreign policy of Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru obsolete? Will Bollywood equal Hollywood as a source of “soft” power? Is India now a de facto ally of the United States and Japan? Will democracy help or hinder India’s long-term growth?

The world’s largest democracy is also, to outsiders, the most perplexing. For years, India puttered along, its economy weighed down by the regulations that made up the “license raj” bequeathed by Gandhi and Nehru, producing only a feeble “Hindu” rate of growth. But, over the past 15 years, India has transformed itself into a billion-strong rival to China and a showplace for liberalization whose strength has come to play an irreplaceable role in fueling the world economy.

And yet India’s impressive achievements are more fragile than they may first appear. Indian businesses and Bollywood films have become world beaters, but many obstacles to sustained success remain – from governmental corruption to the tenacious hold of the caste system, chronic power shortages, and rigid labor laws.

Shashi Tharoor, a former Under Secretary-General of the United Nations and former Minister of State for Foreign Affairs in the Government of India, as well as the author of acclaimed novels such as Riot, The Great Indian Novel, and Show Business, is one of today’s most knowledgeable and provocative observers of India’s global rise and of the myriad perplexities and effervescence of its everyday life. How will India’s increasingly international companies confront stiffening resistance in the West? Why can’t a country that excels at cricket field a decent Olympic team?

In Awakening India, written exclusively every month for Project Syndicate, Tharoor captures and deciphers the multifaceted complexity of the ambitious country that India has become: one where there is much more hope – but also more frustration – than ever before.

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18 pages