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Rogue Elephant: Harnessing the Power of India’s Unruly Democracy [Kindle Edition]

Simon Denyer
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

At the beginning of the twenty-first century, India seemed to stand on the brink of an exciting new era. Second only to China as the fastest growing major economy in the world, gleaming shopping malls were being built around the country to service a rapidly expanding middle class, and mobile phones were reaching even the remotest villages.

The installation of Manmohan Singh as Prime Minister in 2004 seemed to promise more good times ahead. Singh had unleashed ‘shining’ India’s potential more than a decade before as finance minister, introducing the liberalising economic reforms that had set the country on a new course towards prosperity.

Yet a decade later, the dream has crumbled. A series of corruption scandals has badly tarnished the nation’s image and undermined its self-confidence, while the economy has slowed and violence against women has dominated the headlines. Their country is no longer ‘shining’ and Indians are left wondering where the magic has gone.

Reporting from across India, meeting activists, farmers, factory and office workers and media figures, and interviewing influential political leaders including Narendra Modi, Rahul Gandhi and Arvind Kejriwal, Denyer exposes the battles taking place all across the nation between powerful vested interests and those trying to foster change.

By delving into many of the country’s most troublesome issues, from gender relations to education, from corruption to populist politics, he analyses the Indian malaise and, equally important, discovers signs of new and vigorous life and a deep desire for change. If the world’s largest democracy can control the greed, corruption and bad governance that bedevils it, its future may indeed be truly dazzling.

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Revealing panorama ... Denyer explores issues through well-told stories of activists, officials, crusading lawyers, and grandstanding television journalists who are fighting to expose and correct abuses, sometimes at considerable peril ... The pervasive misrule that Denyer highlights is outrageous, but he balances it with hopeful signs that India's democracy can respond to popular pressure. Avoiding clichéd notions of India as either South Asian super-tiger or eternal basketcase, Denyer's sharp-eyed reportage and analysis convey both the size of India's problems and the strength of efforts to remedy them (Publishers Weekly)

Book Description

A lively portrait the state of India today and an investigation of what the future holds for the world's fastest-growing country, as told by those in the thick of the action

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Rogue Elephant's release has been well-timed to coincide with India's elections and it is a clear and pacey account of the main issues confronting India's voters, such as violence against women and children, corruption and crony capitalism, as well as the flawed political parties and their leaders vying for power.

What really stood out for me were the portraits of some of the main political leaders, as well as of those trying to keep them in check. These included various courageous social activists, whistle-blowers and right-to-information campaigners as well as a controversial TV journalist. All in all, it is a good read by a journalist who knows India well.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The truth on India 11 Jun. 2014
A must read for anyone who lives or spends time in India. A journalist who knows India well, is perceptive, brave and cuts through all the clichéd nonsense you regularly read from within. Addressing some sensitive subjects in a powder keg political landscape Simon's brave opinions are a refreshing change in a country where the ugly subject of censorship is never far from the lips.

As good a book as you will find on the true India and how it's past has shaped it and what it could potentially go on to be.
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An extremely gripping book. Going through an emotional ride with it - makes me feel proud to be an Indian and yet extremely shameful/sad in parts (even though the tone is objective and style, factual)

Simon Denyer's story telling (out of some pretty dry facts) makes it a real page-turner. There is real deep insight into why things are the way they are in india. His profiling of some of the key personalitites and events of the Indian political system are very enlightening.
This book was presented to me by a friend - its been the best read of the year so far!! Its re-ignited my feelings for the country. Its made me curious about Simon Denyer. Am simply loving it.
Would recommend it highly to anyone who has an affinity for India (esp for those who have left the country in the last decade and want to know what the country has been upto). A fantastic book!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.7 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Political history of contemporary India 2 Nov. 2014
By Mohan Babu K - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition
Rogue elephant is an interesting analysis of some aspects of India's democracy. The author, who has spent the past decade or so reporting on India draws from his notes while highlighting observations.

The book begins and concludes with an analysis of the infamous gang-rape in Delhi that shocked the conscience of the nation. The author devotes several chapters to money and corruption with a brief review of the political players including Rahul Gandhi and Narendra Modi. Simon was rightly betting on one of them ascending to the role of India's Prime Minister. This ensures the book continues to be relevant in 2014 when published.

As with any political narrative, the views of the author and his biases are bound to creep in. This book is no exception. The author focuses on politics in the book while skimming economic reality of life and society. In reality both are intertwined and an analysis of one should include the other. Information Technology and Business Process outsourcing and globalization of Indian manufacturing get only a passing mention. Even the Telecommunication revolution that helped India leapfrog from obsolete land-lines to the information age gets only a passing mention. Instead, Simon focuses on corruption of telcom spectrum handouts. The fact that politicians skimmed billions from the deals is not debatable. However, the benefits of wireless revolution, getting rural Indians access to basic communication and on to information age is downplayed in the narrative.

Understanding the intricacies of India's democracy is hard, even for Indians living through the changes and more so for Non Resident Indians like self, who keep abreast of happenings digitally. Simon's readable book is sure to add to the knowledge base, and will be especially useful for those looking for a “political history” of India in the past decade.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A FascinatingBook 30 July 2014
By Raghu Menon - Published on
The "Rogue Elephant" is a wonderful and thought-provoking book, the most interesting aspect of it being that its contents are so current and topical. Simon Denyer's insight into today's India is truly admirable.

Chapters 1 and 16 of the book, the first and the last, were the most compelling. Simon has brought out the heartbreaks, sufferings and fears of the vulnerable, the exploited and the disadvantaged with a sensitivity and inner rage that left me both moved and disturbed.

I wish he had included photographs of some of the lesser known figures, especially for non-Indian readers. The faces of people like Ashok Khemka, Rajeev Chandrashekhar, Sanjiv Chaturvedi, Sanjay Sahini, Nikhil Dey, Ram Kumar Thakur etc need to be seen and admired.

Overall, it is a great piece of writing and superbly captures the nuances of that complex country called India. I would only add, as a sincere compliment, that if Simon's name wasn't on the cover, I would never believe this book had been written by a non-Indian author.

Go ahead and read it. You won't be disappointed
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read on India's political landscape 14 July 2014
By Ceal - Published on
I thoroughly enjoyed the political analysis provided by Denyer in his extremely well researched Rogue Elephant. As an expat living in India it provided fantastic insight into what has gone before this current Indian government in an easy to understand fashion. I thoroughly recommend this book to anyone wanting to get up to speed with India's social and political landscape before the government recently changed hands. Great read!
4.0 out of 5 stars Gladly recommend 27 Dec. 2014
By Reader - Published on
As unbiased as books on India can get, good details on recent events though should have given more coverage to past as well. Books on India tend to be very biased when it comes to corruption and failings of the political class but Rogue Elephant does a very good job of presenting all the sides without hesitating to point out what went wrong.

I heartily recommend this book.
2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A hard look at at the worlds largest democracy. 21 July 2014
By BD - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition
Rogue Elephant takes a hard fast look at India and the Indian culture and then writes and in depth, revealing excellent book. Slow in places my only wishes is that it was a little more optimistic in conclusion. The book was a little hard to get into but after a while settled in to a comfortable rhythm. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in Indian culture and also if you are looking for a quick and compelling read I suggest reading other books as well such as Indie: A Female Vigilante. It is such a well written book about a vengeful female vigilante named Indira roaming the streets of New Delhi seeking revenge for the attack on her sister. Excellent read on the treatment of women in modern day India.
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