On the cover of this book is the picture of a turbaned Rajasthani villager, his camel seated behind him, the vast expanse of the
Edward Luce worked as the Financial Times' bureau chief in
Luce is at his weakest in criticising the Hindu nationalist movement that has swept this county over the past two decades. His bias presents itself vividly in his description of the Godhra incident of 2002, in which a train compartment packed to the brim with Hindus returning from Ayodhya was set afire by an unruly mob (comprising mainly Muslims) at the Godhra railway station in Gujarat. The incident occurred on
It is well known that Jawaharlal Nehru adopted the
Where Luce's book picks up is in regaling readers with interesting and often dumbfounding Chinese whispers. Can it really be that some Congress party members called their leader Sonia Gandhi "an uneducated Italian housewife" in Luce's presence? Luce adds that these two went on to become Cabinet ministers in the government that was instituted in 2004. It's too delicious a piece of gossip to not know.
The writing on certain states' skewed gender ratio is engaging. So is the impassioned cry against child labor. And Luce tickles the humor bone ever so often. Taking a dig at Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan's omnipresence in television commercials, he remarks, "Wherever you are in
The problem with the book is that it tries to compress lofty issues into 40 odd pages each. It's not that Luce hasn't done his homework, but he's done only that. Even as the reader waits for him to move from narration to analysis, the book wraps up as little more than the diary entries of an inquisitive reporter.
And yes, dear Andre, if you are reading this, your observation that in
Luce just might agree.