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India: From Midnight to the Millennium Paperback – September 1, 1998
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Author Shashi Tharoor has spent half of his life outside of India, yet his position as a "NRI" (Non-resident Indian) has given him the distance and perspective necessary to produce India: From Midnight to the Millennium, an in-depth critique of the country's first fifty years of independence. Tharoor, currently executive assistant to the secretary general of the United Nations, is known for both his fiction (The Great Indian Novel, Show Business) and his journalism; in this effort, he blends fine prose with a reporter's talent for analysis, resulting in a skillful examination of some of the greatest challenges India has faced over the past five decades, as well as what lies ahead for the nation.
In chapters devoted to such diverse topics as caste, the free-for-all nature of Indian democracy, the troubled legacy of Indira Gandhi, and the partition of India and Pakistan in 1947, Tharoor both explicates the history of India since independence and attempts to define what makes India one country and Indians of various ethnic, religious, and cultural backgrounds one nationality. He is forthright in his discussion of the sectarian violence that has ripped through the country, the corruption that is rife throughout the ranks of the Indian civil service, and the difficulties that face a nation in which 48 percent of the population remains illiterate. Yet Shashi Tharoor writes of these problems with a sense of optimism about the future, confident in the ability of his countrymen to find solutions within a democratic political system. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
From Library Journal
Tharoor, an Indian diplomat, offers "an insightful and provocative analysis of the accomplishments and failures of the past 50 years" that will be "useful to anyone interested in modern India."
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Instead of his charming, acerbic, witty, humourous, and refreshing view of the politcal and social scence as evidence in "The Great Indian Novel," we now have before us a book of high literary quality, but a dry read indeed. Moreover, Tharoor's postion in the UN seems to infuse itself into this book: he looks for a utopian rendering of a country which is, by all accounts, far from utopian. As he projects his value system, his ideals, and his dreams for the country, it becomes apparent that these are the cries of an expatriate intellectual who wants to see good done. And I applaud him for that, for I too share his dreams to a large extent. What I cannot appreciate however, is a sense of intellectual and political maturity that Tharoor exudes, which, in my opinion, is only a hair away from arrogance.
What has been most disappointing, however, is the complete lack of acid opinion. It's not as if the book is not opinionated. It most certainly is. Except Tharoor seems to hide behind a veil of intellectual veneer in order to seem that it's not. I'd much rather he had pulled the plugs, chosen his weapons, and gone at the situation with all the wit and acid humor his is so wonderful at. But maybe that would have taken longer, and maybe he would have missed all the wonderful free publicity that came with India's 50th anniversary celebrations. And for those that Tharoor chastises for taking advantage of India for their personal gain, how is he doing something different?
Occasionally, Tharoor's deep love of India becomes distracting in this otherwise objective book. But then again, it is that precise subjectivity that Tharoor is communicating through his book - India is at least 1 billion truths. From Midnight to Millennium is one such excellent truth that will provide the reader a powerful starting point for learning more about India.
Any way, his arguments about the problems of present day India is worth praising, like the populations of Muslims in India. Though there's the arguments of Hindus that Muslims don't take any Family Planning programme. Hence their population is increasing more than that of Hindus. This he defends as saying that the number of productive women in Muslim remains same. How beautiful !
Similarly, in the case of Holidays, that the rich countries have less holidays than that of the poor countries. It's because the former has much money and they can enjoy their holidays in their own way. But the poor have very less to spend with for their entertainment. Hence there's much Melas, gatherings, social functions etc.. which are cheaper entertainment. Hence poor countries have much holidays than the rich ones. He's right.
Very informative book about India, though Tharoor is a bit complacent about his own country.
The autobiographical elements of the book make it attractive to an inquisistve reader. Many Keralites can relate to Sashi who was "born in London, brought up in Bombay, went to school in Calcutta, attended college in Delhi and received my doctorate in the United States." I share many of his views and feelings about India and the contemporary struggles of Indians. As a Keralite I feel proud of Sashi and wish him every success in his literary career.