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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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Das begins his story shortly before India gained its independence from the British in 1947. He was born into a middle-class Punjabi family well ensconced in the new British-educated professional class. Das's borrowed term of "cultural commuters" fits his father's generation well, and his description of life lived between the more philosophical and spiritual worlds of Indian tradition and the Western-influenced business world of the British Raj reveal both a versatility and disorientation that was to permeate succeeding generations of independent Indians. Though mindful of Jawaharlal Nehru's influence on India's embrace of democracy, Das takes to task the economic leadership of the man who, while beginning his democratic rule with ambitions to end "poverty and ignorance and disease and inequality of opportunity" ultimately failed in this regard. With an ever-present eye on the economic plight of his fellow countrymen (and frequent use of anecdotes and statistics), Das examines the irony of the socialist governments of Nehru and Indira Gandhi, which were founded in the name of the poor but became inefficient, bureaucratic behemoths, sucking the economic lifeblood out of the country. His education at Harvard introduced him to a slew of influential theories, including those of economist John Kenneth Galbraith and philosopher John Rawls. But instead of remaining in academia, Das began his career in business, joining the Indian subsidiary of Vicks and rising to become head of its Indian company, Richardson Hindustan, in 1981, and eventually, a CEO at Proctor & Gamble. Soon after the economic reforms of the early 1990s, however, Das left to employ his keen observational skills as a journalist and writer, and the latter part of this book is crammed with his insights into the opportunities of present-day India. Das is obviously enthusiastic about the possibilities that the knowledge economy has opened up for India, but he thoughtfully examines these economic options within the framework of the cultural past and future of a country on the "brink of the biggest transformation in its history."
As an autobiography that touches on every area of life but focuses a keen eye on economic development, Das's account is jam-packed with detail. At every chance, he sets the personal story of his family and ancestors in the wider context of history (often for full chapters at a time), creating a broad and richly detailed picture of Indian life. Though he writes in colorful, descriptive prose, Das's succinct and matter-of-fact statements occasionally seem to belie the complexity and ambiguities of historical and cultural transitions. However, India Unbound is a vast undertaking, and Das's combination of historical account, economic analysis, cultural observation, and personal experience is often intriguing and always informative. --S. Ketchum --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
Honestly, I couldn't put the book down for a minute. I finished the book, cover to cover, in three days. In my opinion, this is one of the finest books ever written about India (in the same league as 'Freedom at Midnight'). This book is not only superbly written, but also provides valuable insight and perspective.
The author discusses his childhood, his humble beginnings in corporate India, and his views about socialism and capitalism. In parallel, he discusses history, India's freedom, Indian politics and government, the Indian bureaucracy and even the caste system. Most endearing though, is how he describes the events in his life in a broader perspective of national politics and policies. He performs insightful analysis of the workings of Indian bureaucracy and how it influenced/touched not just his life, but the lives of millions and the workings of corporate India. He talks about all the failed attempts to reform government in the past (including his own) and the failures of the people in power to perform introspection and to do course correction.
He talks about the new beginnings after the reforms of 1991, the hopes and aspirations of millions in this new millenium, the IT boom, and the wonderful possibilities of the future.
This book is a must read for anyone who feels strongly about India.
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.Read more ›
After reading this book, one would tend to see a lot of mistakes in Nehru's view of modern India. The book squarely blames Indira Gandhi for most of the damage done to the system, citing the nationalization of banks and enactment of laws thwarting entrepreneurship. Overall, the book is very positive in what the new millenium holds for India. It presents a glowing future in the face of the recent economic liberalization.
A must read to catch up with post-independence Indian economy.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Very well written. Never gets too slow. Facts and figures definitely help my engineering mind digest the magnitude of events.Published 13 months ago by Himanshu Mehta
Superbly written about Indian economy and the politics affecting it.Published 15 months ago by Rajamani Muthuchamy
A must read for people who are interested in the history of Modern Indian Economy. Gives great insight into where we as a country made a mistake and how heavy it's implications are... Read morePublished 18 months ago by shreyans
Sincere work of an NRI optimist.....makes one feel good but lacks deep analysis...Published 22 months ago by Raj Kumar Moitra
A reasonably good book about our dismal showing as a nation during the first 45 years of independence. The chains that shackled us have largely been struck off. Read morePublished on August 23, 2014 by VIVEK SHIVDASANI
This is the best book I have read on the huge gains made in India after it abandoned socialism in 1990. Read morePublished on July 21, 2014 by David A. Olson
This is the book that describes India's economy growth in 20th century and its pitfalls of socialism view of government that initially looks a ideal for the peoples but ultimate... Read morePublished on August 4, 2013 by Sita Ram Meena
India Unbound is a perspective of a businessman in dealing with the government and civil servants in India. Read morePublished on August 15, 2010 by MeterManja
The author explains the various governments of India and the implications each had on society and the next steps for the economy. Read morePublished on September 11, 2009 by Tom Zimmerman