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

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Data and the Truths of Modern India

Whole Numbers and Half Truths: What Data Can and Cannot Tell Us about Modern India by Rukmini S, Chennai: Context, 2021; pp xv + 327, `699 (hardcover).

Rukmini S has undertaken a difficult task, to understand the com­plex social, political, and economic realities that constitute India today through the use of large-scale survey data. This is an ambitious book, for she does not seek to confine her analysis to any one field, but to encompass all asp­ects of the social world that Indians inhabit, ranging from law and order, to employment and the working of labour market, as well as healthcare and the practice of electoral democracy. The author’s ambition is matched by her skilful treatment of the subject matter, her familiarity with the universe of Indian data evident in the manner in which she is able to weave together different strands of ­evidence in order to shed light on ­diverse issues.

Not only does this book provide a plethora of data and information on a number of important topics, it also deals with conceptual issues relating to how we define the fields we wish to measure, and the institutional issues that end­anger our current statistical systems. Aimed at the layperson who desires a deeper insight into the empirical reality of India, this book demands much from the reader, marshalling its evidence with a confident hand not only to shatter comfortable preconceptions, but also to offer intimations of hope and exhortations to protect and preserve our demo­cracy. As academics, we are used to spending a better part of our professional lives delving deep into a specific field of study, often losing sight of the wood for the trees. It is a pleasure to read a book that is not only confident in its abi­lity to provide a macroscopic view of India, but also mindful of the complexities and micro-insights that need to be placed into a proper context.

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Updated On : 30th Jan, 2023
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