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Imagining India: The Idea of a Renewed Nation Paperback – February 23, 2010


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (February 23, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143116673
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143116677
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 1.2 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #853,007 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The premise of this suave and unabashedly free market overview of the New India—the rising economic powerhouse—is that ideas lead economic and social policy rather than the other way around. It's not a consistently held position, however, as Nilekani, cochairman of the board of directors of Infosys Technologies (a leader in India's burgeoning IT sector), refers in the same breath to a longstanding (postindependence) antipathy to teaching English reversed by its economic advantage in a global market. Theoretical consistency aside, the author makes a bid for a centrist position in the globalization debate. His focus rests on India's particular domestic and international advantages in such areas as population, English proficiency and information technology. But there's little separating his take on India's recent past (hobbled by Nehru-era socialism) or best present course (embracing globalization, seen as a harmonious and harmonizing amalgam of democracy, equal opportunity and resource access) from such neoliberal champions as Thomas Friedman (who supplies the foreword). Readers inclined to a free market perspective will find Nilekani eminently reasonable, if less than startling; those seeing it as antithetical to an equitable and sustainable future will meet a familiar frustration on nearly every page. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Nandan M. Nilekani is the Co-Chairman of the Board of Directors of Infosys Technologies Limited. He is the recipient of several awards, including the prestigious Schumpeter Prize for innovative services in economy, economic sciences, and politics. He was listed as one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine in 2006 and was named Forbes "Businessman of the Year" in 2007. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Imagining India by Nandan is one of the finest work about post-independence India.
Kartik Matmari
In conclusion, this book is a keeper for NRIs and a must read for students of economics, political science and history.
Ratna Dalal
He has thoroughly researched them and presented to the reader in unexaggerated terms.
Ajay Karthik Hari

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Ratna Dalal on July 27, 2009
Format: Hardcover
It is not often that an engineer writes a book about his country. It is even rarer if that engineer is from IIT and is also the CEO of a company with over 80,000 employees. So when I first heard about this book, my reaction was the same when I saw an advertisement in which Hema Malini models for a water filter. The question that arose was does she really have to do this? Similarly I asked does Mr.Nilekani really have to do this?

Keeping in mind the author's illustrious background, a forward by Thomas Friedman and the backing of a "stellar team of editors", my expectations from this book went sky high. In order to understand it, enjoy it and do full justice to it, I read this book for no more than an hour each day. If one were to sum up the essence of this book in one word, then it would be "heavy". This book is heavy in weight, in content and full of heavy weights (i.e. experts in different fields).

The gist of the book is that it explores the growth of India from the era of Nehru to Manmohan Singh and beyond. In 1991 economic reforms were introduced in India and with that says Mr. Nilekani "the baton for growth passed from the government to the human spirit of creativity, adventure and enterprise". Beautiful words! The author explains this by exploring different issues. He has put in a lot of effort to study each issue, discuss it with the local experts and then write about it. For a writer it is one thing to understand a complex issue but what requires extraordinary skill is to break it into simple blocks of past, present and future and then write about it in simple words, so that the common man can fully understand it. Thomas Friedman calls Mr.Nilekani "an explainer" and I couldn't agree with him more.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Shaker Cherukuri on July 22, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
First impressions after reading the book: When you are a hammer, everything looks like a nail - The solution to all problems is IT?

On second thoughts, if you can get past all that IT and IIT stuff, it is actually an exhaustive discourse of the microcosm that was, is and will be INDIA - really the United States of India.

Towards the end, Mr. Nilekani redeems himself when he says "we cannot build systems over a creaky base-we have to first reinvent our state processes to increase our efficiencies rather than merely computerizing what exists" - [...]

IT or for that matter "Technology" by itself, does not fix or solve any problem. You have to first understand what the issues are, create a framework for the solution and use the scare resources to invest in the right technology judiciously. Elsewhere in the book, he does mention this being the reason why most IT projects do not go beyond the pilot phase since the organizational issues were not addressed upfront - in government that is the elephant in the room, especially in India.

I learned a lot about India's regulatory system and its demographics. The double hump demographic dividend was interesting. Will the second dividend from the BIMARU's really come to fruition? I guess time will tell......
Imagining India: The Idea of a Nation Renewed
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25 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Loyd E. Eskildson HALL OF FAME on March 24, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Author Nanden Nilekani, co-founder of Infosys, traces the ideas that shaped India's past and present, and looks forward into its future.

India's socialist ethos is still dominant, rooted in abuses from early British rule, memories of the Great Depression, and greatly exaggerated growth statistics from the Soviet Union's early days. Initially, after gaining independence, entry into industries set aside for the private sector was regulated through a licensing system, and the government controlled pricing of commodities. This spawned massive expansion of a slow-moving bureaucracy, the opportunity for corruption, and eventual change. Until that change occurred, businesses procured multiple licenses to preempt competition, resulting in most industries having just 1-2 competitors, poor quality, and high prices. The 1980s and 1990s brought change out of frustration and a nearly bankrupt government treasury. De-licensing, dismantling price controls in some industries, lowering tariffs, and changed tax policy that no longer sapped profits brought reinvestment, growth, and a 5X multiplication in government revenues (aka Arthur Laffer) in ten years. Annual growth has exceeded 6% since the early 1990s, a record in history exceeded only by China. Nilekani, however, conceded that much more remains to be done - India still ranks below China and Pakistan in ease of doing businesses (especially new start-ups), and he doubts any businessman could be elected to high office.

Nilekani has no doubts that India's Democracy is superior to China's government, and cites China's tumult under Mao and even since as evidence. However, his contention that India's laissez faire approach to birth control will be more effective than China's mandated "one-child" rule is not compelling.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Atulya Bhimarasetty on April 7, 2010
Format: Paperback
Conceptualized and authored by Nandan Nilekani, Imagining India is a book that takes its readers on a journey through the ideas that have shaped India so far, and more importantly addresses ideas that can change India as we have always wanted. Imagining India at its core is a book that voices our frustrations, concerns and more importantly the changes we always wished for.Tremendous in scope and proficiently written, Nilekani divides his book into four parts and explains what has led us to where we are today and what ideas we will need to realize our true potential. As you read through the book you will notice that that Mr.Nilekani treads carefully over our current policies because he himself knows that implementing strong reforms in a very diverse country like India - with unfavorable political conditions - is easier said than done.

The book begins by making the reader aware of the difficulties of our then freedom/political leaders (after independence) when faced with writing the constitution and implementing new policies. Our then leaders - Nehru, Gandhi - had a insurmountable task of uniting our deeply polarized country. After independence we were, as Nandan Nilekani explains, very skeptical of new foreign investments and privatization. We had always viewed privatization of services as evil and believed capitalism was never going to work for us. Instead of making the best use of our new political and economic freedom after independence, we relied on the government and existing family owned businesses to provide jobs. As a result during the next 20 years after independence, our un-employment rate soared, poverty was everywhere and starvation among the less privileged was a common sight.
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