ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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How Is India Today?

India Today: Economy, Politics and Society by Stuart Corbridge, John Harriss and Craig Jeffrey (Cambridge and Malden: Polity Press), 2013; pp xiv + 384, £18.99 (pb).

The 13 theme-based chapters in the book are the authors’ answers to 13 questions that appear as chapter titles. Some of these questions are: “How have the poor fared (and others too) in India?”; “How did a ‘weak’ state promote audacious reform?”; “Has India’s democracy been a success?”; “Does caste still matter in India?”; and other questions regarding Hindu nationalism, rural dislocations, civil society, position of Indian women, etc. I am surprised though that this wide-ranging work leaves out India’s foreign policy and the growing economic and political role the country has assumed in international relations (the authors very briefly allude to this in the last two pages of the book).

The questions asked by the authors (or similar ones) form the core of much of the current debate on contemporary Indian politics. And, as the 16th general elections close in, these discussions have become more intense and animated. Opinions are strong as also divided on the state of poverty, economic growth and redistribution, effectiveness of government, functioning of democracy, status of women, etc. The recent assembly elections in five states (2013) have revealed that there has been a general dissatisfaction with Congress-led governments in the states and the centre. The Congress has come under criticism for corruption, inefficiency and inflation. The Bharatiya Janata Party seems to have been far more successful in providing effective government in the states led by it. It even received tremendous public backing in these elections.

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