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5.0 out of 5 stars Witty, fun and illuminating!
Really enjoyable and fascinating read into modern India perfectly sculpted by the illuminating writing of Oliver Balch. A real pleasure to read and very informative. Balch's writing style is fun and witty, the real-life characters had me in stitches at times (Babu), would definitely recommend!
Published 1 month ago by M Singh

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Satisfying need and greed
Themed under the headings of Enterprise, Aspiration and Change, the ten chapters of interviews with a wide range of Indians can be picked and mixed in any order. With the stated “overarching goal..to gain a flavour of the place… the approach is unapologetically subjective” and anecdotal. In this, the author succeeds, but is it enough? I admire...
Published 6 months ago by Antenna


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Satisfying need and greed, 17 Feb 2014
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Antenna (UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
Themed under the headings of Enterprise, Aspiration and Change, the ten chapters of interviews with a wide range of Indians can be picked and mixed in any order. With the stated “overarching goal..to gain a flavour of the place… the approach is unapologetically subjective” and anecdotal. In this, the author succeeds, but is it enough? I admire Balch’s enthusiasm and confidence, but found myself crying out for more context and analysis, as I searched for nuggets of information in the often banal padding and attempts to showcase Balch’s budding skills as a journalist.

Some of the least likely chapters are the best, as in “Actor Prepares” where the author tracks down Naval, the wannabee Bollywood director who has broken with tradition by giving up the course financed by his father, without telling him. In the process, Balch describes the urban tragedy of the hideous, jerry-built concrete housing blocks in unfinished suburbs where recent migrants to Mumbai are crammed without the money or knowhow to equip themselves adequately.

After visiting the artificial bubble of a western style shopping mall, which girls can only attend chaperoned or with friends, Bauch interviews the retail millionaire who feels that aspiration levels, even amongst the poor of India, are now too high to halt the growing tide of consumption: “material things are rewards for performance”. Can Gandhi’s opposing philosophy of the importance of inner peace and harmony survive against this? It is interesting to read how the ingenious poor of India are beginning to set about achieving their ends. There is the “microfinance” (controversial in view of the interest rates levied) which enables groups of women in the slums to borrow money for small-scale activities, guaranteeing repayments for each other as necessary. Similarly, in remote villages off the beaten track, it is again women who operate like “Avon ladies” selling small packets and jars of cleaning agents. When asked if she is happy with her purchases, an old lady gives the telling response, “Before, we washed our dishes with ash”.

On page 250, a rare piece of analysis asserts, “India is travelling at multiple speeds as in multiple directions. New India is a story of fits and starts, not linear progression.” And in the conclusion: “India is too diverse, too full of paradoxes, too confident ever to be homogenised” or swallowed up by global capitalism. But is this too simplistic? India is clearly in transition, with the poverty of the majority highlighted in the process: state-funded space research versus stagnant villages and mushrooming slums in filthy, lung-searing, gridlocked cities. Will the sheer scale of the economy create such pressures of pollution and instability that India plays a major part in the destruction of our global civilisation as we know it? “India Rising” never probes as deeply as this.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Witty, fun and illuminating!, 2 July 2014
Really enjoyable and fascinating read into modern India perfectly sculpted by the illuminating writing of Oliver Balch. A real pleasure to read and very informative. Balch's writing style is fun and witty, the real-life characters had me in stitches at times (Babu), would definitely recommend!
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From slumdogs to software moguls, an intriguing account of modern India, 6 April 2013
This is the first non-fiction book on India that I've read, so I can't say how it stacks up against other entries in this teeming genre. Judged purely on its own merits, however, this is a terrific book, packed with compelling anecdotes, expertly sketched character portraits and sharp analysis.

Balch is clearly a bloody good journalist from the old school, tenacious and persevering. He seems to have chatted up the majority of the country's 1.2 billion inhabitants and must have filled a small forest's worth of notebooks. He packs in a lot of detail, but what could have been a horrible mess, isn't.

If you want to learn something about where India is coming from and where it's going, but don't want to slash through thickets of social science jargon or cringeworthy purple prose in the process, this is the book for you.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Tales from a Changing Nation, 2 Sep 2013
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Mrs. Philippa Hogan "PippaH" (Bray, Wicklow, Ireland) - See all my reviews
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An interesting treatise on modern India. This has been written with real affection for the country. In danger of being a bit patronising
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1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fantastic, 22 Nov 2012
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fantastic book its a must read, really interesting to read a book written by an old felstedian. i would recommend this to anyone, very fast delievery.
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0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting angle, 10 Dec 2012
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This review is from: India Rising: Tales from a Changing Nation (Kindle Edition)
Is India really shining? How is India reacting to the massive change in consumerism? How will the millions of have-nots and know-nots react to the change surrounding them? This book attempts to answer all if the questions above and more by interviewing and experiences people directly playing a role in this ongoing drama. The personalities are profiled diligently managing to leave a long lasting impression on the reader. I liked the wide cross-section of people interviewed from drivers right through to captain Gopinath, owner of Air Deccan. Books makes a very interesting read of the current trends in India. Excellent resource for sociology students.
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