15 June, 2021

The Rise Of A Passionate Schmaltziness

The widely accepted India-as-an-experience model has, alarmingly, sacrificed the specific and heightened conceit

The Rise Of A Passionate Schmaltziness

There’s been an outbreak of ‘India’ books lately; the first signs of an epidemic. Or, if you want to look at the phenomenon more kindly, there’s been an efflorescence. There was Ramachandra Guha’s Makers of Modern India, and, at around the same time, Patrick French’s compendious account, which (as his difficult biographee Naipaul did with his own great work from 1990) he entitles, simply, India. (He and Naipaul have different, but numerical, sub-headings: ‘a million mutinies’; ‘1.2 billion people’). Anand Giridharadas has published a book called India Calling. At least two more are imminent, by intelligent, unsparing writers. One will be by the novelist Siddhartha Deb; his astute chapter on the self-appointed management guru Arindam Chaudhuri is already out in n+1. The other is The Butterfly Generation by Palash Krishna Mehrotra. Anyone who’s read Mehrotra’s journalism will know he’s a gifted, recalcitrant maverick who fully, and...

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