BBC journalist Lak (Mantras of Change, 2005, etc.) examines the subcontinent’s culture to discern the reasons for its economic success story.
He identifies the reforms of 1991, which helped ease regulations on big businesses in India, as key to the country’s vast upswing in fortunes. The reforms sparked a huge lift in India’s economy, creating jobs and alleviating some of the country’s terrible poverty. Lak analyzes some of the principal areas that have contributed to India’s prosperity, including technology, activism, religion and education. The passages on technology provide the most food for thought, and the author writes eloquently on both the call-center boom and India’s contributions to resolving the Y2K scare, which created a solid foundation for the country’s future IT developments. Lak even discusses how the study of Hinduism, and its inherent complexities, makes India’s workforce perfectly suited for the IT industry. He also evaluates the huge gap between rich and poor, demonstrating that the middle classes are often teetering on the brink of poverty and therefore put immense pressure on their children to succeed in school. The author doesn’t shy away from highlighting the downside to India’s cultural revolution; for every personal and political triumph, he notes, there is a case of call-center burnout or student drug abuse. The account ends with analyses of the 2006 Mumbai train bombings, the effects 9/11 had on Indian society and India’s slowly expanding nuclear capabilities. Remaining ever cautious, Lak comments that the IT industries may fall victim to their success and makes recommendations for further changes in the subcontinent’s infrastructure in order to maintain its phenomenal growth rate.
Makes a convincing and thoroughly readable case for India’s claims to be “the next liberal superpower.”