The book of the same title has the introduction: “A rare attempt to understand the Indianness of Indians – Why we are the way we are.” What makes this book different from other self-congratulatory books out there is that it is
a) AWritten dispassionately ( a good sign)
b) Uses economic theorems like prisoners dilemma and game theory to provide an insight.
Now most of us are not familiar with game theory and prisoner’s dilemma (Wikipedia has some excellent articles on it where it is explained in detail). However, the author V Raghunathan has very cleverly managed to explain in a non economist manner. While you do get a feeling that the problem in Indians was analysed effectively, the elusive solution could also have been attempted at.
The most potent was Chapter 6: Self- Regualtion, Fairness and Us. The chapter starts off with the famous poem (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_they_came...) and then the various malaises affecting Indian society is listed. They vary from
1. Exploding population
2. Abject poverty
3. Pathetic basic education
4. Woeful primary health care
5. Scarcity of clean drinking water
6. Unhealthy pollution levels
7. Near absence of the justice delivery system
8. Runaway corruption
9. Creaky infrastructure
10. Criminalization of polity
Yet all of the people I have met say that “we are proud to be Indians”. This relationship is more like of a parent with an unruly child. The parent knows the child is unruly, however makes no effort to stop him and cannot love the child any less. The dilemma facing the parent is somewhat like us Indians face, though on a billionth level. At the risk of being branded ‘anti-national’, I would say that I am not proud of India. This was not the India promised by our forefathers and certainly does not look like becoming one in a hurry.
Another quote from the book comes to my mind – “Indians are privately intelligent and publicly dumb”. Correct. We will use our intelligence for our own individual gain but never use it for the society. We take pride in our country running ‘democratically’ despite using all our powers to subvert the essence of democracy and republican outlook. We take proud in our ‘morally superior culture’ yet all our leaders, who are supposed to be the face of the public, show our ‘superior’ culture to the maximum.
“India is a functioning anarchy’- Gabraith. I love India, but not this version. I love the idea of India, not this one. I love the way we Indians have a ‘jugaad’ for everything, but not when it is used to subvert the law. I love the idea of democracy, but not when it is “Bye the people (spelling Bye intended), Off the people, Far the people”. I love India, that’s why I feel this pain. What can I or you individually do? What????