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An Uncertain Glory: India and its Contradictions Hardcover – 4 Jul 2013

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Allen Lane (4 July 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846147611
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846147616
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 3.9 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 322,209 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review


One of Bloomberg/Businessweek Best Books of 2013, selected by Edmund Phelps


"It's an urgent, passionate, political work that makes the case that India cannot move forward without investing significantly--as every other major industrialized country has already done--in public services. . . . This book is . . . a heartfelt plea to rethink what progress in a poor country ought to look like."--Jyoti Thottam, New York Times Book Review

"Sen and Drèze carefully explain such issues as health care, education, corruption, lack of accountability, growing inequality, and their suppression in India's elite-dominated public space. . . . Sen and Drèze also reveal how democracy in its simplest manifestation, the scramble for votes, can drive successful implementation of welfare programs such as the Public Distribution System."--Pankaj Mishra, New York Review of Books

"After three decades of trawling the data compiled by central and state governments, Indian nongovernmental organizations, and international bodies, these longtime collaborators know--possibly better than any other commentators--how Indian governments since the 1980s have failed the vast majority of Indians, especially in health care, education, poverty reduction, and the justice system."--Andrew Robinson, Science

"[A]n excellent but unsettling new book."--The Economist

"[E]legant and restrained prose, and with an array of fresh examples."--Ramachandra Guha, Financial Times

"Sen and Dreze are right to draw attention to the limits of India's success and how much remains to be done. They are exemplary scholars, and everything they say is worth careful study."--Clive Crook, Bloomberg News

"Economists Dreze and Nobel laureate Sen compellingly argue that Indian policy makers have ignored the basic needs of people, especially those of the poor and women."--Choice --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Back Cover


"India is a great success story of economic growth and poverty decline, but it remains the home of global poverty, and half of its children are profoundly malnourished. This paradox of poverty and plenty poses one of the great intellectual and moral challenges of the day. We can ask for no better guides to it than a philosopher and an activist, both distinguished economists, and both with unparalleled knowledge of India's glories and its shames."--Angus Deaton, author of The Great Escape: Health, Wealth, and the Origins of Inequality


"This important book provides a comprehensive and probing analysis of the Indian economy and its enormous potential. What makes this such an engaging book is that it is a deeply sympathetic and, for that very reason, a deeply critical evaluation of contemporary India. The book's combination of economics, politics, history, and law makes it a fascinating read."--Kaushik Basu, chief economist of the World Bank


--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Athan TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 27 Sept. 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Half the book, roughly, is data. Cold data, that paint an unmistakable picture: India might be enjoying the second highest GDP growth of any country on the planet, but across a vast number of measures it is scoring no better than sub-Saharan Africa.

Social indicators not only lag countries of India's GDP per capita level, but are simply abysmal. Here's an example: outside of sub-Saharan Africa, India is the sixteenth poorest country per capita. The authors turn the stats on their head by defining those sixteen countries as India's peer group. Among them, to be clear, India is the richest. Regardless, there are barely any measures, from life expectancy at birth, to child immunization, to access to a toilet (55% of Indians have to defecate outdoors, if you must ask) where India can hold its head up high compared with earthly paradises such as Vietnam, Moldova, Uzbekistan and Laos, not to mention how backward it's made to look by much poorer Bangladesh and three times poorer Nepal.

Moreover, India seems to be rapidly falling behind. The authors rank India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka on 12 measures, including per capita GDP, life expectancy, infant mortality rate, under-5 mortality rate, etc. and compare 1990 figures with 2011. India's average rank has only improved on a single measure (it has gone from fourth to third in GDP per capita) and has regressed or stagnated across the 11 remaining measures.

The numbers themselves make you cry:

43% of children are underweight
26% are never immunized for measles
26% of young women (15-24) can't read

It gets worse than that. India is far from uniform. There are states that look almost like the rest of the world, such as Kerala (human development index 0.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By TonyVaux on 6 Aug. 2013
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I lived in India for 6 years in the 1970s and 1980s and returned again recently. While there is now much conspicuous wealth the lives of very poor people remain just as terrible and tragic as before. Economic growth may even have highlighted their dire situation. Dreze and Sen bring together a huge amount of evidence to show that the situation for poor people, especially in terms of malnutrition, is worse than in Sub-Saharan Africa. Although Africa is often the focus of attention, India is the real nub of global poverty.
India could easily afford to remove this shameful blight but elite groups have put their own interests above everything else and politicians have colluded.
This is a brilliant book by brilliant authors. It leaves an uneasy sense that the situation could easily persist and there is nothing anyone outside India can do about it. Dreze and Sen call for intense public debate and much more willingness to challenge vested interests. But where is this new dynamism to come from? Why should the situation change simply because it is morally repugnant?
Although this is a weighty academic work it has a message for anyone connected with India, although most of all for Indian people because they alone can bring about a solution. It is an issue of priorities within a democracy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By W. Black VINE VOICE on 16 Aug. 2013
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The authors, both highly distinguished economists, talk long and hard about what is wrong with today's India.

They discuss at great length, and with copious charts and tables, exactly why India's economic revolution seems to be stalling.

In the end, they say, it's down to not spending the money on education and medical support on the 80% of the population who are rural and poor but using the taxes to prop up the middle class and a corrupt political system.

It's an interesting way of saying, in a very long winded way, what Gandhi said 70 years ago: "The future of India lies in the villages".
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By spsahu on 4 Aug. 2013
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written by well known writers, this book paints true picture of india's progress in past 20 years which is far from rosy as some people believe !
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By Twisha on 28 Oct. 2013
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A fine tribute to the Indian intelligentsia by Dr. Sen and Dr. Dreze. Harsh realities of India supported by research, facts and data show that the country has a long way to go! The disconnect between the masses and the so called 'middle' and 'high' classes is revealing. The authors have often used the word 'dismal' in this book and it is a very apt word for describing the dire situation which calls for urgent action and remedy. a wake up call for all those living in their 'iron gated' communities to look beyond and they will not have go much far to discover what lies beneath the dazzling malls, cinemas and high rises of Indian metropolis.
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By Holder on 18 Aug. 2013
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This book gives you the latest figures about what's happening in India - it's not all shopping malls and affluent middle classes. It doesn't pull punches, either. It's not the easiest of reads, being rather full of statistics, but it's reliable and very well informed. It would do nicely as an answer to those who say we don't need to help countries like India because they have good GDP growth figures.
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