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Imagining India: The Idea of a Renewed Nation

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Imagining India: The Idea of a Renewed Nation [Hardcover]

Nandan Nilekani
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)

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Book Description

March 19, 2009
Imagining India gives us a fascinating new perspective for the twenty-first century, defying imported wisdom to show us what is really at stake in the worlds largest democracy. Nilekani reveals why India's huge population has now become her greatest strength; why rapid urbanization is transforming social and political life; and how we can learn from India's difficult journey towards a single internal market. He also gets to the heart of debates about labour reform, the social security system, higher education, and the role of the state. And he asks the key questions about the future: How will India as a global power avoid the mistakes of earlier development models? Will further access to the open market continue to stimulate extraordinary growth? How will this affect India's youth?

Visionary and authoritative, Imagining India engages with the central challenges facing India and charts a new way forward.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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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.

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 out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Press HC, The; First Edition edition (March 19, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594202044
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594202049
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.6 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #358,669 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From Nehru to Manmohan Singh & Beyond July 27, 2009
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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26 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and Educational! March 24, 2009
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
5.0 out of 5 stars A Man With a Plan September 18, 2011
Although "Imagining India" will undoubtedly raise some hackles, this is a very powerful and important book that needs to be taken seriously.

Nilekani presents a decent historical picture of India since Partition and includes an annotated timeline at the back of his book. And he takes a very clear-eyed look at the present, seeing enormous room for improvement.

There is an old saying that the first step to correcting a problem is recognizing that a problem exists. Soberly and succinctly, Nilekani recognizes and addresses India's problems head-on and offers a variety of practical and innovative proposals.

At the same time that India is growing its economy and raising the standard of living for its citizens, there are serious problems with shortages of drinking water, roads, schools, dependable electricity, load-shedding, pollution and environmental degradation. Serious infrastructure reforms are needed. Political corruption, industrialization, lack of uniform sanitation policies, need for universal literacy, environmental degradation, and serious energy problemd are prevalent.

The book is essentially a business plan for improvement. Offering economic, environmental, political, and IT suggestions and solutions on where and how India might cut through the murk to become a world leader in environmental and business reform, Nilekani makes a lot of sense.

Rather than simply pushing IT solutions at the reader as some reviewers have suggested, Nilekani has thoughtfully interviewed many different kinds of specialists and authorities.

Many of the thinkers and practioners referenced in this book are from India; others are from across the globe. Collectively they offer practical and sensible solutions for moving the country ahead.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
very good book if you are interested in the future of Indian economy.
Published 5 months ago by Raghav Ohri
5.0 out of 5 stars A great book.
A well researched and well balanced book on post-independence and developing India. This book can be inspiring to the younger generation and offer guidelines for public policy in... Read more
Published on January 17, 2014 by C. Ramana Bhasker
3.0 out of 5 stars Unfounded optimism
I am an optimist about India but find Nandan's optimism not palatable. His exaggeration of small events to derive optimism is painful for anyone who has been following India... Read more
Published on January 18, 2013 by Pammy
5.0 out of 5 stars Finest work on India post 1947
I had read Ramachandra Guhas work earlier which was good and Iam not trying to compare Guhas work with Nandans. Read more
Published on December 29, 2011 by Kartik Matmari
5.0 out of 5 stars Imagining India
Many businesspeople believe that India's national economy will be a dominant international force in the future. Read more
Published on December 2, 2011 by Rolf Dobelli
4.0 out of 5 stars Detailed Info on India's Business History
I think it started out great. The book was full of detailed information regarding India's history. Did take me a lot of time to read since I had to reference to many names that... Read more
Published on May 29, 2010 by Raul Colon
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential Reading - For anyone earns for a better India
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... Read more
Published on April 7, 2010 by Atulya
4.0 out of 5 stars A New Template to Write the Story of India's Growth and Development
For a country of India's proportions with its one billion plus population, a trillion dollar economy and the promise of becoming an economic powerhouse that is just beginning to... Read more
Published on April 5, 2010 by Hasnain Zaheer
5.0 out of 5 stars A Manifesto for Reform
In 2007, Ramachandra Guha wrote India After Gandhi: The History of the World's Largest Democracy. In 750 pages, he summarized Indian history which, in Guha's words, "is so rich and... Read more
Published on March 3, 2010 by Righthalf
1.0 out of 5 stars Laborious, long, too much detail...
I picked this book with great anticipation and much to my chagrin found that the book appeared to explain how the different policies in India are established and lacked any real... Read more
Published on January 7, 2010 by Amazon Customer
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