Author: K Satchidanandan
Publisher: Wiley Eastern Limited
ISBN/UPC (if available): 8122406998
This volume carries retrospective and prognostic essays from some of the best scholars on many aspects of contemporary India and attempts to promote to some extent a comprehensive understanding of India that actually is.
Which is contemporary India? The one which V S Naipaul described in 1979 as a country of extraordinary stupid people run by just very very stupid people, or the country which he recently discovered to be having a central will, a central intellect, a national idea. Pablo Neruda found India to be the closed territory where were found old misery/hunger/howling in the villages. On the other hand, in 1990 Kathleen Raine found in India: The human beauty and richness of life itself is everywhere heartwarming. India has not lost her soul at the price of technology - as yet.
Octavo Paz's India is more complex - the grotesque and the sublime existing side by side on the same plane of reality, a country which a gigantic cauldron, the original melting pot, and much more efficient and hotter than its American equivalent. But we also have Nirad C Chaudhuri trumpeting his ' historical diagnosis' that India is in decay. Could this historical diagnosis be more true that Arnold Toynbee's conviction that India would be the leader of the world in the twenty-first century? India, he declared, would make great progress in every field. And what is more, it would harmonize science and religion, the only country that could and would do it.
There have been persons who doubted whether independent India would continue to exist or break up into bits and pieces, and even in the former case whether it would stick to democracy or not. Some political scholars assayed the geo-politics of 2024 AD in the Golden Anniversary issue of Saturday World Review: 2024 AD A Probe into the Future, and suggested how the world atlas might be then. Milovan Djilas wrote that he was not convinced that India could remain united in the long run. EJ Hughes asserted that the avowedly democratic society of India might reasonably be counted upon, not to unify but to fragment - possibly into as many parts as Western Europe. On the other hand, Lord Trevaluyan thought India would not split up, but would just hang together because of its geopolitical situation and as 150 years of political traditions, a uniform economy and common struggle for independence. The last words on this matter were spoken by Indira Gandhi in the seventies itself: Indian unity is an established fact. It is not dependent on a political party or a person. It is something which just exists in India and I do not think it can easily be diminished or weakened. But there are many tendencies which could weaken unity.