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India Unbound: The Social and Economic Revolution from Independence to the Global Information Age Paperback – April 9, 2002

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor; Reprint edition (April 9, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385720742
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385720748
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.2 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #427,338 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“Something tremendous is happening in India, and Das, with his keen eye and often elegant prose, has his finger firmly on the pulse of the transformation.”–The New York Times Book Review

“One of the most readable and insightful book s to appear on India’s tortuous economic path in its 54 years since shaking off British rule.”–Business Week

“Head and shoulders above the customary bunch. This elegant essay has something for everyone.”–St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“For American readers accustomed to view India as a land of tigers rather than high-tech and maharajahs rather than microchips, this book will come as a welcome surprise.” --The Washington Post Book World

“Informative, entertaining, and basically correct about India’s need to embrace capitalism more wholeheartedly, for all the costs and risks.” —The Economist

From the Inside Flap

India today is a vibrant free-market democracy, a nation well on its way to overcoming decades of widespread poverty. The nation?s rise is one of the great international stories of the late twentieth century, and in India Unbound the acclaimed columnist Gurcharan Das offers a sweeping economic history of India from independence to the new millennium.

Das shows how India?s policies after 1947 condemned the nation to a hobbled economy until 1991, when the government instituted sweeping reforms that paved the way for extraordinary growth. Das traces these developments and tells the stories of the major players from Nehru through today. As the former CEO of Proctor & Gamble India, Das offers a unique insider?s perspective and he deftly interweaves memoir with history, creating a book that is at once vigorously analytical and vividly written. Impassioned, erudite, and eminently readable, India Unbound is a must for anyone interested in the global economy and its future.

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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See all 26 customer reviews
In short, it is a book that you must read if you want to read about India of past and future.
Ashish Mathur
The author has very painstakingly collected anecdotes and several data points that make the book quite a delight to read.
Vijay Krishna
Therefore, this book is a businessman's perspective on business history in post-independence India.
Pranab Majumder

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Pranab Majumder on October 5, 2006
Format: Paperback
This book presents a picture of India's Economic and Business stroy from just before Independence in 1947 till about 2001. Mr Das uses his family members as a chorus to present the story in the early days, and then transitions to his own experiences as a manager in Richardson Hindustan, where he had a ringside view of the business climate in India during the 70s and 80s and later.

He captures the initial euphoria over independence and the sense of control Indians felt over their own destiny, which led to Nehru's implementation of a centrally planned economy, with most important industries nationalized, and private enterprise being severly shacked, and "profit" being a dirty word.

Some of the chapters in this book are almost like business cases/narratives which present the journey of different business houses, like the Tatas or the Ambanis as they tried to run business and navigate the suffocating bureaucratic maze that the planned economy gave rise to. His contention is that while Nehru may have made a mistake, the real blunder was in continuing with the planned economy model after his death even when it was abundantly clear that it was not working.

He leads up to the balance of payments crisis, with the resultant changes in the Indian economy caused by liberalization by Narsimha Rao and Manmohan Singh, who appear to him to be apologetic reformers almost unaware of the monumental changes they were unleashing. Finally, he notes the frustration that the economy has not continued to open up as quickly as it had started to, now that the crisi has passed. However, he notes that there is a sense of widespread optimism that is driving change all over India.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Iago on April 11, 2005
Format: Paperback
This book gives an in-depth look at the follies of past governmental policies in India while tracing substantial changes in the nation's economic plans within the last ten years--allowing for the opening of markets and a competitive stance in the global arena by India. He outlines the failures of Nehru's idealistic approach, along with Mrs. Gandhi's autocratic regime. It also shows the potential for further opportunity with the change of the economic environment via globalization. It does have a few weaknesses--capitalism is exhorted as a panacea for India's dilemmas. And the image presented is overly rosy--the book only gives half of the picture and is unfounded in its optimism with regards to India's future via its current path. Abraham George's "India Untouched: The Forgotten Face of Rural Poverty" and P. Sainath's "Everybody Loves A Good Drought" are excellent counter-points to the issues presented in this volume.
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29 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Vinay Varma on March 22, 2005
Format: Paperback
Every book has its votaries. So does this one. It comes at a time when millions of upwardly mobile, English-speaking, urban Indians are reaping the benefits of the economic reforms that the book speaks of. So it strikes a strong chord with Indians who have seen decades of lop-sided development since independence and a sudden boom in the 1990s.

As an incisive analysis of defects of bureaucracy and over-regulation it has some merit. But the author carefully selects only those facts of pre-liberalization era which he can easily criticize and only those facts of the liberalization era, he can praise without having a nagging conscience.

Therein lies the trap. By refusing to give due wieghtage to achievements of previous decades and refusing to analyze how those achievements laid down the base infrastructure for subsequent growth, the author does a very lop-sided economic analysis of how the liberalization boom came about.

A lot of far-sighted planning in terms of education, development of the transport network, etc. laid the foundation for the economic boom and not just the flip of a policy decision.

Of course, growth that could have been accelerated was slowed down by wrong policies and a dominating and corrupt bureaucracy, but a growth which could have been aborted was given a lease of life by a commitment of many Indian leaders and bureaucrats with vision.

For a sense of how we have progressed and why, a balanced inquiry based on statistics and not skewed by needs of proving the 'hypothesis' would be better.

It would also be good to read this book, along with P. Sainath's 'Everybody Loves a Good Drought' or Pavan Varma's 'The Great Indian Middle Class' to know the other side of the coin and understand how different kinds of Indians respond to the same set of developments.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By "vivachetv" on April 9, 2002
Format: Paperback
This book covers India over a broad enough frame of time .. the last 50 years since Independence. Since the author has worked in industry .. his views have a practical perspective. It also throws light on doyens of Indian industry the Birlas, the Tatas , the Amabanis.. and their efforts to power growth and simultaneously battle the bureaucracy.
The author has made a convincing attempt at pointing out the ills of bureaucracy and licensing .. and their effects in keeping economic growth down.
The book makes good reading , an understanding of fundamental economics is unnecessary and anyone who has an interest in India should find this book a very good read .
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