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The Elephant, The Tiger, And the Cell Phone: Reflections on India - the Emerging 21st-Century Power Paperback – October 15, 2008


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 498 pages
  • Publisher: Arcade Publishing (October 15, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1559708948
  • ISBN-13: 978-1559708944
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,662,562 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Bewildering diversity is the very essence of India, observes novelist and columnist Tharoor (The Great Indian Novel) in this engaging collection of essays, which tries to reconcile the country's clashing traditions with progress and liberalism. Hinduism's promiscuous openness to other beliefs and cultures makes it a model of secular tolerance, he argues, though Hindu fundamentalist bigotry is his favorite target. Tharoor also insists that ancient Indian science anticipated quantum mechanics, and praises his home state of Kerala for raising female literacy rates. (In a rare nostalgic note, he mourns the demise of the sari, then fences with a backlash of critical e-mail responses from pants-wearing women.) Most of all, he celebrates India's compatibility with the global economy, a stance that occasionally shades into business boosterism. Many pieces are drawn from Tharoor's columns and feature quick, sketchy takes on Indian cultural touchstones, from political corruption to Bollywood to cricket; his themes tend to be repeated rather than developed. But Tharoor's ready wit-an Indian without a horoscope is like an American without a credit card-and sympathetic insight combine in a fascinating portrait of Indian society. (Oct.)
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.

Review

“I’m enthralled by the writing of Shashi Tharoor, his remarkable erudition and insight. For me, his work has been an illuminating introduction to India.” (Joseph Heller) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

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I, for one, am itching to know!!!
Anonymous
I strongly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in knowing more about India.
Julio
This revelry in all things Indian is evident in Mr. Tharoor's latest book.
Vijay K. Gurbani

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Julio on February 13, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I wanted to know a bit more about Indian culture and Indian history and I love this book. It's so well written. You must have some basic knolwedge of Indian history to understand it though. If you don't know who Nehru was and what the "partition" was you need to read some books before this one.
The book helped me to discover many facets of the Indian culture and society: the importance of secularism (and the current threats), the basic tenets of hinduism, the difference between north and south, the passion for cricket, the odd habit of changing cities' names, the use of the sari (or the lack of use), etc.
I strongly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in knowing more about India.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on December 3, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This book is a must read for Non Resident Indians. Mr. Tharoor has perfectly portrayed India in a way NRIs would manifest their experiences of their home country. Though the book is not targeted only for Indians, it has few historical & personal references that only a true Indian can understand.

The book starts with little bit of Indian history talking about "People who made my India" that includes noted Indians from all sects including politics, cricket & bollywood. The author also provides a glimpse of India's culture (spirituality, traditional family values) & tourism (experiences at Ajanta & Ellora caves, Ayurvedic resort in Kerala) followed by India's progress in this 21st century (call centers, cellphone surge). Since Mr. Tharoor has been associated with the United Nations, the facts about India's growth, outlined in the book, truly suggest that India is the 21st century's emerging power.

I really enjoyed the chapter on India's cricket legend, Sunil Gavaskar, who was my hero too when growing up. It is nostalgic the way Mr. Tharoor has written about the "little master".

This is a must read for all Indians living outside their own home country.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Prithvi Karthikeyan on April 5, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I adore Tharoor's erudite and amusing writing. This book feels like home with its loving description of all that matters - cricket, family, community, cinema, history, religion and politics - in that order. The author's pet theme is the ostensibly unwieldy yet absurdly functional pluralism fed by a range of coalition memberships - geographies, cricket solidarities and common political antipathies.

I love that Tharoor describes his India as an individual experience rather than an objective concept. Tharoor subtly endorses the thumping progressive new Indians with his metaphor of an elephant who became a tiger - suggesting provocatively that the vulgarly ostentatious 'five star culture' is more authentic than the discreet opulence of the club culture. However, his intense nostalgia quite clear in the subtext of every syllable - the longing for the old names Madras and Bombay, the self-conscious diginity of Nehruvian democracy and the portrayal of St. Stephens as a modern Nalanda of sorts!

Yet, there is nothing fatalistic or too precious about Tharoor - he denounces superstition and horsocopes and doesn't mind writing that as a man he'd like to see women in elegant saris. It's the sort of nice nationalism that warms one without being too jarring or jingoistic.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Vijay K. Gurbani on August 13, 2008
Format: Hardcover
The Elephant, the Tiger, and the Cell Phone, The: The Emerging 21st-
Century Power, Shashi Tharoor - We Indians are often so starved for some
metric -- any metric, really -- of validation that we blindly embrace
Indians of all stripes residing outside India. What else could explain
our head-long rush to claim Bobby Jindal as one of our own while
demonstrating obvious restraint for Mr. Shashi Tharoor? (For those
readers who may not know Mr. Jindal, he is the Indian-American
governor of the US state of Louisiana.) Unarguably, and just as
unfortunately, present the names of Mr. Jindal and Mr. Tharoor to any
Indian in the US and the chances are better than even that they have
pride in Mr. Jindal while drawing blanks when Mr. Tharoor's name is
mentioned. This is an egregious sin, for Mr. Tharoor revels in being an
Indian as much as Mr. Jindal repudiates it. This revelry in all things
Indian is evident in Mr. Tharoor's latest book.

He staunchly believes and defends the Indian notion of secularism, which
he maintains is not the absence of any religion, but the proliferation
of many religions, all equally protected under the constitution (a point
he makes in other books as well, most notably in India: from midnight
to the millennium). Going further, he makes the point that where
else can you find a political landscape so diverse that in the 2004
Indian elections, a Sikh (Manmohan Singh), representing a Congress party
headed by a Catholic (Sonia Gandhi), was sworn in as prime minister by
a Muslim president (A.P.J. Abdul Kalam)! It is certainly hard to argue
against that now, isn't it?

The book is great reading.
Read more ›
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Anonymous on December 6, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Shashi Tharoor has presented an objective analyses of India by discussing its strengths and weaknesses in a wonderfully endearing manner, that makes this book a great read.

I especially liked the preface where he summarizes the world-view about India as a lumbering elephant that lorded over the jungle in the distant past, but is now superseded by tigers and other animals that were quicker to change.

The preface concludes with an observation that the rest of the jungle now sees the elephant growing stripes and acquiring a spring in its steps.

Only time (or his next book) will tell us whether the transformation of the elephant into the tiger is here to stay or not.

I, for one, am itching to know!!!
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