I finished reading Anand Giridharadas’ “India Calling: An Intimate Portrait of a Nation’s Remaking” this morning and I have to say that it is one of the best books that I’ve read about the revolutionary changes sweeping through India in the past few decades. “India Calling” is narrated from the perspective of an Indian-American (Giridharadas) who moves to India to work in consulting after graduating from college. Upon moving to India, he realizes that the India he is experiencing now is very different (modern, rebellious, bold) from the India he visited as a child, and the romantic notions of India he had growing up as an Indian-American. “India Calling” is an effort to explain the difference between the two Indias and the developments that made this possible.
I will leave you to read this gem of a book yourself, but here is what I enjoyed / agreed with the most:
- Giridharadas’ points that while the current generation of Indians is rebelling against societal pressure, they don’t want to go so far as to create a rupture in society.
- Giridharadas’ analysis of how pride in cultural heritage correlates with economic power / influence. Dhirubhai Ambani’s rise transferred power from the Indian-culture-rejecting-Anglophile-Indian to the Indian-who-is-proud-of-Indian-culture, and how that made Indian culture “cooler.”
- Finally, Giridharadas’ grasp over Indian notions of marriage, mother-daughter phone conversations, and family (among many other topics) is simply outstanding. Each time, he nailed it perfectly!
I was born and raised in India until I came to the U.S. five years ago to attend college, and thus,”India Calling” was an especially interesting read. Curiously enough, I found myself being able to relate more to Giridharadas than any of the Indians he profiled. I will wait in line. I do hesitate to bribe. By Giridharadas’ test of morality, my principles are more rooted in the individualistic Judeo-Christian tradition than in the more communitarian Hindu tradition. I’m not sure how I feel about that. I’m surprised to say, the least. Is civility not a part of the Indian mentality, or at least, can it not gradually become one? But I digress, and that might be another blog post.
All in all, it’s an outstanding book and I recommend it to anyone who is interested in India, and wants to understand how India has changed over the past few decades.