In the 21st century every sixth human being will be Indian. India is very close to becoming the second largest consumer market in the world, with a buying middle class numbering over half a billion.It is in the top ten in overall GNP. Yet at least 200 million Indians remain desperately poor. Illiteracy rates are high. Communal violence is widespread; corruption endemic. Brides are still tortured and burnt for dowries; the caste system has lost little of its power and none of its brutality.
How are we to make sense of these two, apparently contradictory, pictures of India today? And how can we overcome the many misconceptions about India that are fed by the stereotypes created by foreigners and the myths about themselves projected by Indians? In Being Indian, Pavan Varma, whom the Guardian has called 'one of the country's most perceptive writers', demolishes the myths and generalisations as he turns his sharply observant gaze on his fellow countrymen to examine what really makes Indians tick and what they have to offer the world in the 21st century.
A member of the Indian Foreign Service, Pavan K. Varma has served in Moscow, in New York and in Cyprus. He has been Press Secretary to the President of India and is currently director of the Nehru Centre in London.
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