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on 1 September 2006
This is a great book for people who want to try and capture some of the Indian psyche, and understand where India is going in the next century. I guess, to understand that, you need to know the context. That's what Pavan Varma tries, successfully, to do. He touches on the desire to create a better life and the focus on wealth being huge motivating factors for most Indians. The issues of language, politics, religion and family are also discussed at length. The mix of modernity and tradition is one that most Indians sit at ease with. Indians can embrace new technologies, but yet, cling to marrying within their caste and, in some cases, having a dowry. Social India is highly conservative still.
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on 31 March 2009
I won't shy away from the fact that this is not an easy read but it is worth investing time in it. I recently moved to India and have spent the last 5 months experiencing and being puzzled and frustrated by the mass of contradictions that there are within the country. Reading this book has been a revelation - its not answered all the questions, but many things, in particular the persuit of power, have suddenly explained the actions of so many around me. Can't recommend it enough.
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on 3 February 2007
This is the first book which ( I have read or found easy enough to read)attempts to examine /explain the cultural and philosophical underpinnings of Modern India and its recent economic success. Especially insightful is the explanation for the success and surival of democracy - the fact that it was seen by the masses as a way to get a step onto the POWER ladder ( power being one of the prime aims /drivers of the Indian polity/culture, according to the book ) i.e a means to an end. It is aptly summed up by the author when he writes " India has a democractic process, but we dont have a democractic temperament". All in all , a great read with several great insights!!
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on 2 March 2011
I bought this book based on previous reviews and wasn't disappointed. I've travelled to India many times and the more time I spend there I realise just how complex and paradoxical the country and its people are. This book goes some way to attempt to explain certain things that have puzzled me about India, for example that religion is such an important aspect of their lives yet corruption is as pervasive and accepted in the temples as elsewhere. I found the book a really interesting and engaging read and very accessible.
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on 1 April 2008
A very incisive, interesting and compelling book on modern India, its inhabitants and their generalised characteristics, helping to dispel or reorient some of the mysticisms that surround India in the West. The author writes with great insight (and some courage!) and weaves his analysis with both interesting and relevant examples, as viewed by an Indian sub-continental reader. Well worth the price.
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on 2 May 2013
India is a vast and complicated subject and we would make a big mistake in thinking that Indians are people "just like us". After three visits I wondered why things did not follow the same paths as in the UK, why people's thought processes and attitudes were completely different. Some things I had worked out for myself but this book suddenly made everything much clearer. When you see something happen in India it now becomes a lot more obvious what is really happening and what the subtexts to that situation are. The introduction is a little heavy but well worth reading on as subsequent chapters are easily digested. Highly recommended for anyone thinking of visiting or working in India. Mr Varma has rendered valuable service.
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on 10 May 2010
When I read this book I had already been to India three times and I am sure I enjoyed the book more as a result.
The writer is a little verbose but he writes about the Indian psyche and with examples from my own experience to draw from I found a new understanding of the sub text of many encounters. Thoroughly recommended for anyone wanting to liaise, do business, cross the divide or simply understand the people in this amazing county.
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on 15 April 2010
Very good account of what it is that Indian's seek (power and wealth) and why (to rise above the rut and be recognised by all) yet Indians have an underpinning ground up value system based on a very holistic and basic construct of the world being a complexity of maya (illusion) and karma (fate, cause&effect)and how Indians conveniently adjust to this. They justify any means to get what they seek and reconcile through the value construct when they don't get what they seek.
Mr. Varma's account of the Pan-Indian is ok but that of Indian's being good at technology left a little to be desired. But his assessment of their penchant for wealth and power is brilliantly written and substantiated through a historical process of evolution.
Highly recommended for Indians living abroad and Non-Indian nationals that want an interesting perspective on the Indian physche
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on 11 September 2007
This is an easily readable book (not too long or academic) that attempts to give insight into what first appears to be a baffling and complex country. It is made quite clear from the outset that as the majority of Indians are Hindu, it is really a book about Hindu culture.

The author tries very hard to give a balanced view however I sometimes got the impression that he was having to stifle his natural enthusiasm and promotion of his country that was probably developed whilst working for the Indian diplomatic corps! Also, some of the conclusions made about Indians today based on their history I found difficult to believe.

The positive thing that I took away from the book is that human nature is the same in India as in the West.

I recommend this book if you want an introduction to the subject.
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on 27 October 2015
This is one of the best books I've read on what makes Indians Indian. It explained things that have always puzzled me and all of a sudden many behaviours made sense. I recommend it to anyone who spends time in India.
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