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An Uncertain Glory: India and its Contradictions Hardcover

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (August 11, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691160791
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691160795
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.5 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #64,713 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


One of BloombergBusinessweek Best Books of 2013, selected by Edmund Phelps

"It's an urgent, passionate, political work that makes the case that India cannot move forward without investing significantly--as every other major industrialized country has already done--in public services. . . . This book is . . . a heartfelt plea to rethink what progress in a poor country ought to look like."--Jyoti Thottam, New York Times Book Review

"Sen and Drèze carefully explain such issues as health care, education, corruption, lack of accountability, growing inequality, and their suppression in India's elite-dominated public space. . . . Sen and Drèze also reveal how democracy in its simplest manifestation, the scramble for votes, can drive successful implementation of welfare programs such as the Public Distribution System."--Pankaj Mishra, New York Review of Books

"After three decades of trawling the data compiled by central and state governments, Indian nongovernmental organizations, and international bodies, these longtime collaborators know--possibly better than any other commentators--how Indian governments since the 1980s have failed the vast majority of Indians, especially in health care, education, poverty reduction, and the justice system."--Andrew Robinson, Science

"[A]n excellent but unsettling new book."--
The Economist

"[E]legant and restrained prose, and with an array of fresh examples."--Ramachandra Guha, Financial Times

"Sen and Dreze are right to draw attention to the limits of India's success and how much remains to be done. They are exemplary scholars, and everything they say is worth careful study."--Clive Crook, Bloomberg News

"Economists Dreze and Nobel laureate Sen compellingly argue that Indian policy makers have ignored the basic needs of people, especially those of the poor and women."--

From the Inside Flap

"India is a great success story of economic growth and poverty decline, but it remains the home of global poverty, and half of its children are profoundly malnourished. This paradox of poverty and plenty poses one of the great intellectual and moral challenges of the day. We can ask for no better guides to it than a philosopher and an activist, both distinguished economists, and both with unparalleled knowledge of India's glories and its shames."--Angus Deaton, author of The Great Escape: Health, Wealth, and the Origins of Inequality

"This important book provides a comprehensive and probing analysis of the Indian economy and its enormous potential. What makes this such an engaging book is that it is a deeply sympathetic and, for that very reason, a deeply critical evaluation of contemporary India. The book's combination of economics, politics, history, and law makes it a fascinating read."--Kaushik Basu, chief economist of the World Bank

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Customer Reviews

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A must-read for anyone who has an open mind and appreciates a healthy discussion on these matters.
Vivek Reddy
Written with a clear sense of moral urgency, An Uncertain Glory asks us very provocative questions and relegates any hubris to the dustbin.
Romi Mahajan
This book provides elements to identify sthrenghts and weaknesses of the model followed in India and some other emerging economies.
Jose Guillermo Banda

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Vibhash Sureka on August 3, 2013
Format: Hardcover
"An uncertain Glory" is a seriously argued book advocating Social Intervention in the fields of health, education, nutrition, provision of public services like drinking water, sanitation etc. while pursuing policies of economic growth. The argument is supported by a wealth of data in a Statistical Appendix of about 40 pages.

Authors begin with a survey of India's many political and economic achievements and failures. They praise the success of formal democracy and high economic growth while lamenting the poor practice of democracy and slow progress in indicators of human well being which they rightly claim to be inter related.

The book studies India's comparative standing vis-à-vis other Asian, African and South American economies over time and establishes convincingly that despite high economic growth, India has fallen behind these countries by not paying sufficient attention to social intervention in the fields listed above.

The centrality of education and primacy of health care are further supported by success of some Indian states like Kerala, Tamilnadu and Himachal Pradesh which have achieved high level of indicators of human well being without being at the top of economic growth chart.

Authors commend the introduction and success of laws like Right to Information
and NAREGA which have brought about more transparency and accountability in political sphere and raised real wages in rural India respectively.

More importantly, India's multi dimensional inequality based on class, caste, gender and even knowledge of English are discussed and their inter relationship brought to fore.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Chris Junker on November 29, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Mildly repetitive and inevitably somewhat dry, nevertheless well worth the read if you want to understand why India is not the juggernaut that many, especially in the right wing press, have been warning us about. Oddly enough, this book is rather informative about our own country in the sense that we get so see what the US would look like if the Republican/Tea Party was able to fulfill its plan of unfettered industrial growth, education for the working people neglected and complete privatization of medical care. The US is not in any real danger of falling into deep, mass poverty but the description of policy decisions and their consequences by the authors cannot but remind readers of the politics of deeply red states like Alabama and Mississippi.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By B.Sudhakar Shenoy on October 3, 2013
Format: Hardcover
India is acclaimed as the world's largest democracy and the second fastest growing economy, with a huge demographic dividend and the largest middle class. Personally, I too have been a beneficiary of this rapid economic transformation since 1991.

I have always felt proud of such economic success, blindly believing in `the trickle-down effect' and that the welfare measures of the government would take care of poverty alleviation.

This book, a real eye opener, gives a totally different picture, ugly, sad, but true and accurate, of the other side of India - the poor and underprivileged, who are hungry, malnourished, illiterate and sick.

It is shocking to see the huge disparity between the privileged and the rest. Indian media, in all TV channels recently ridiculed the Planning Commission's notion of poverty line (at Rs 32/- or 5 Cents in urban areas, and Rs 26/- or 4 Cents in rural areas) as the daily income. The entire noise and laughter was on how misplaced this calculation was, since Rs 32/- meant next to nothing for survival, leave alone `luxuries' like health care and education.

The authors very rightly point out in this book, that what the entire debate grossly missed was the fact that even at the abysmal threshold of Rs 32/26/- per day, about 350 million or a third of the entire nation would still be classified as poor in the world's largest democracy.

While India can claim economic laurels on Growth rate, it is now the second lowest (thankfully) just above Pakistan in Human Development Index, amongst 16 poorest countries outside Sub-Saharan Africa as pointed out in the book.

The country has failed to harness `constructive role of markets' and simultaneously, and quite miserably in implementing `constructive role of the state'.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The authors have done a splendid job in highlighting the dismal performance of India relating to Education and Health Care.Every politician should read this book and formulate policies to allocate more funds for Education and Health care .
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Quite a meticulous analysis of the prevailing situations in this country of more than billion people with a third of them living without electricity and almost three fourth spending less than thirty rupees for meeting their daily expenses for living. This book can be harbinger to whole new idea of providing "intellectual eye opener works" to government of India through its shrewd, pioneering analysis of public policies and their implication on lives and well being of the population. A must read for true Indian who have empathy for his/her countrymen.
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