The Genius of India

The Genius of India

Product ID: 8081

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Author: Guy Sorman
Publisher: Macmillan
Year: 2001
Language: English
Pages: 232
ISBN/UPC (if available): 0333 93600 0


An English edition of the original French title: 'Le Genie de l'Inde', this work combines reportage with reflections. The author traveled to India to look for that something, which is missing and attempts to discover the true face of this often-misunderstood subcontinent.

This book addresses a wide range of issues. Who exactly are the Indian Muslims? He shows us that they have little in common with the Arab Muslims. What does the BJP want, and what can it do and what does it profess now that it is in power? The marriage of institutions that we call archaic with sophisticated technology, the superimposition of what we call superstition on a large scale participation of global activity in the new economic set up, the advent of the Internet in the Indian village, which still has a large illiterate population are some of the paradoxical yet fruitful illustrations of the Indian genius.

India has never cased to haunt the imagination of the West. On three occasions, she left an indelible imprint on the Western shores. Christianity borrowed from her the idea of compassion and the belief in the immortality of the soul. Mahatma Gandhi demonstrated, in the twentieth century, the strength of non-violence, and, in the sixties, the West borrowed the notions of ecology and feminism from India. These influences from the East may come as a surprise to many Westerners. Yet they were often discussed in the early nineteenth century when Europe discovered the 'Vedas' and 'Upanishads' in translation.

The author reminds the reader of a long tradition among the French intellectuals, going back to the eighteenth century, of strong interest for Indian culture. Tocqueville planned a book on local governments and Romain Rolland made Mahatma Gandhi world famous. Today, in spite of its material achievements, the West is disillusioned. Guy Sorman travels to India in an attempt to discover: Is India really a democracy? What remains of the caste system and the gurus? How did India overcome famine? How is that the country is developing at a faster pace than China? Does modern India still have a universal message to give the world? These are some of the questions the French author examines in this book.

Sorman tells us he found in India the vitality and spirit of generosity missing in the West. India teaches us how to live. These words of Malraux ring truer today than ever before. That is why, according to the book, Kabir's poetry and classical music represent the permanent genius and message of India to the world, while the legacy of Gandhi ought to work in the West as a counterpoise to gross materialism and Machiavellism.


The great merit of the book is that it gives us a glimpse of the variety and the strength of contemporary India. Guy Sorman has observed India with a keen eye, a great deal of intelligence and genuine affection. He has met people from all walks of life and these meetings provide insights as to what is happening in today's India and what we can expect from her. In India, things add up, they don't complete to replace each other. It is this gift for coexistence that we have to learn from this exuberant yet impassive civilization.- Roger-Pol Droit, author of L'Oubli de l'Inde (India Forgotten) in Le Monde.

Overturning Western prejudice, Guy Sorman sees in the caste system and polytheism not a course but the stuff that forearms Indians against absolutism. It is perhaps thanks to castes, however archaic and oppressive they may be, that India, unlike China, has escaped from totalitarianism and the grip of a single state or a single party ... it has been a long time since one has read such a stimulating work. Sorman has been able to understand not as a response or a solution to the ills of the West but as a stubborn question for which we will always be seeking an answer.- Pascal Bruckner, a renowned French author in Le Nouvel Observateur

Guy Sorman went to India to demolish stereotypes and discovered that they the key to civilization was diversity...Sorman shows the incredible human variety, which exists from the most technically sophisticated to most tradition-bound; the diversity that Gandhi wanted to preserve when he said that the human being had to be changed before being able to create a new society. This is perhaps for Westerners the most difficult thing to understand because they have for two centuries been trying to change society in order the enhance the value of human being. Sorman followed the Mahatma's advice, for the Mahatma remains the real hope for India. A civilization where the mastery over the self more important than conquering the universe.- Le Journal du Dimanche


Prologue -The Beginnings of a Journey


A Billion Republicans
Arjuna's Chariot
The Two Faces of Islam


Where Rousseau West Wrong
Discourse on Inequality


Cholera and the Bomb
It's Not Enough to be Liberal
Internet at Pondicherry


To Each His Guru
In Calcutta Sans Romain Rolland
The Rebel Weaver


The India Within Us
The Coming of the Mahatma

Epilogue-Recreating Enchantment

Bibliographical References