17 January, 2021

City Of New Arrivals

Essentialism feeds specious arguments in Capital. Perpetual City breathes a time of grace and preferment.

City Of New Arrivals

Books on Delhi clearly suffer in comparison with those that embrace Mumbai, such as Maximum City or Shantaram. Only Dalrymple’s City of Djinns, written with an obvious fondness for the city’s monuments but an irreverent disdain for its inhabitants, and Sam Miller’s Megacity, with its idiosyncratic approach, come to mind. Neither, though, seeks to be representative of a city, not in the sense Rana Dasgupta’s Capital claims to be ‘A Portrait of Twenty-First Century Delhi’.

The play on the word ‘capital’ in the title makes it clear that the writer’s ambitions exceed this rather ambitious task: “But the book I began to write was only in part about Delhi. It was just as much a book about the global system itself”. To achieve this aim, Rana’s book combines reportage with, for a lack of a better set of words, sociological musing.

The character of these musings can only be reproduced rather than rephra­sed.  Spelling out a central concern of the...



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