Category > Politics

Transforming India: Challenges to the World’s Largest Democracy

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Transforming India: Challenges to the World’s Largest Democracy Sumantra Bose, book reviewWith a nation of 1.25 billion people, India is the world’s most diverse and possibly most baffling democracy. At one end of the spectrum are prosperous farmers in the Punjab who live in chalets that could have come straight from Switzerland. At the other, in Mahasrashtra is the wife of a farmer who once did well enough to become his village’s pradhan, but who was forced by crop failure and debt to commit suicide and to be followed by the son as well, leaving the wife to bring up her grandchildren on one meal a day and the bullying of debtors she cannot repay.

Drawing on his wide-ranging experience in the field and his understanding of the Indian political system, Sumantra Bose recounts the tale of Indian democracy’s evolution from the 1950s and lists the threats that confront it today: they range from poverty and inequality to Maoist rebel cadres and Kashmir secessionists.


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Narendra Modi: The Man, The Times

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Narendra Modi The Man The Times, Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay, book reviewFor political India Narendra Modi is very much the up and coming man. He has been making his presence felt on the political landscape for a long time, most specifically during his first stint as Chief Minister of Gujarat when he found himself at the vortex of a Muslim pogrom, part of the Godhra incident fall out. The question was did he order it or did he not, a question which still continues to be asked as Gujarat’s Chief Minister goes from strength to strength, especially now when he is aiming for the Prime Ministerial post.

Journalist Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay has been covering Modi’s career for a long time. ‘When he was seventeen, Narendra Damodardas Modi had an extra middle name—‘Trouble’’ Mukhopadyay wrote in an Outlook newsmagazine piece.


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No One Left to Lie to

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No One Left to Lie to: The Triangulations of William Jefferson Clinton, Christopher Hitchens, book reviewThe first book I read by Christopher Hitchens was ‘The Missionary Position’ in which he attacked Mother Theresa of Calcutta. I was impressed – I always thought there was something a bit odd about raising millions and preaching the glory of poverty. If I was impressed by his research and his merciless attack on a little old lady, I was totally blown away by the character assassination of Bill Clinton in Hitchens’ 1999 book No One Left to Lie To: The Triangulations of William Jefferson Clinton. Whilst much of the world will look back on Bill as a philandering draft dodger who may or may not have inhaled, Hitchens soon shows us that fondling interns in the Oval Office was just the teensiest tip of the iceberg of misdemeanours which can be attributed to the 42nd president of the United States of America.


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Decoding Rahul Gandhi

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Decoding Rahul Gandhi by Aarthi RamachandranThe question is, who is Rahul Gandhi and what is he doing in the world of Indian politics? Apart from being Indira Gandhi’s grandson and Rajiv Gandhi’s heir that is. Aarthi Ramachandran has written the second book that attempts to chalk out Rahul Gandhi’s political strategies – the first by Jatin Gandhi and Veenu Sandhu disappeared without a trace.

In its pages he comes across as a modern young man who applies management principles from The Toyota Way in an attempt to create a corporate stance where politics is concerned. But despite everything he seems to remain a mystery or an amateur – though the whole of India is aware that he is being groomed for the top job.


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An Enlightening Collection

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 The Collected Speeches of Somnath Chatterjee by  Somnath Chatterjee, book reviewThis is an important book for students studying civics or political science, equally important for those interested in the Indian state. Somnath Chatterjee bestrode the Lok Sabha like a colossus of conscience – that same conscience that led to his being evicted from the Communist Party of India which he had served faithfully for four decades. As the Speaker of the House enforcing discipline, he expelled 10 members who were involved in a ‘cash for votes’ scam issue which caused more controversy. During his time in the Lok Sabha he was known for the speeches that he made orations which highlighted his sterling qualities and focused on the reforms that were needed and the administrative duties that should be performed for the efficient functioning of the Indian democracy.


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Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America

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Nickel and Dimed, Barbara Ehrenreich, book reviewAmerica has long been billed as the land of opportunity, a place where the streets are paved with gold and anyone who is prepared to work hard enough can buy themselves a part of the American dream. “I grew up hearing over and over, to the point of tedium, that `hard work’ was the secret of success,” Barbara Ehrenreich writes. “No one ever said that you could work hard – harder even than you thought possible – and still find yourself sinking ever deeper into poverty and debt.”

On 22nd August 1996, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act brought about major welfare reform in the US. Couched in terms of promoting a work ethic amongst those in receipt of welfare payments, this act brought about significant change to the American poor, removing any automatic entitlement to payouts and restricting any that were received to a lifetime limit of five years. This reform meant that almost overnight, 4 million women (many of them with children) had to enter the work force in low-paid entry level jobs.


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What Lies Beneath

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Hello Bastar - The Untold Story of India's Maoist Movement by Pandita Rahul, book reviewThe insidious growth of India’s Maoist movement has troubled the Central Government authorities who have been unable to check it beyond sending Reserve Police Forces to deal with the issue and creating a body known as the Salwa Judum in Chattisgarh. Also referred to as Naxalites, despite being a far wider movement than the original uprising in Naxalbari that gave rise to the name, the Maoists have made their way to the international media for a blend of violence and Robin Hood tactics. Arundhati Roy, for one, is a staunch supporter.

Rahul Pandita’s Hello Bastar is an in depth study of the movement, tracing its roots from Naxalbari and describing its spread and the reasons behind it.


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Who Killed Benazir

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The Bhutto Murder Trail: from Waziristan to GHQ by Amir Mir, book reviewDecember 2007 – Benazir Bhutto had returned to Pakistan for the third time and was planning to stand for election. She was aware that it was dangerous and her emails for sometime had been discussing the possibility of her assassination and in the event of it occurring who to point fingers at. The Pakistani Government had been asked for extra heavy security to prevent any attempts at her election gatherings and Benazir had also asked whether she could bring her own bullet-proof vehicle from Dubai. The request had been refused. 24 hours before her death, her husband was calling her from Dubai and begging her to let him take her place, but she was determined to continue.

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The Squeeze: Oil, Money and Greed in the 21st Century

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The Squeeze: Oil, Money and Greed in the 21st Century by Tom Bower, book reviewThe Squeeze: Oil, Money and Greed in the 21st Century by Tom Bower is detailed account of the activities of the oil industry, with particular focus on the oil majors, during the later part of the 20th century, and into the 21st century. With unprecedented access to sources within Big Oil and around the industry, Bower has constructed a detailed and action packed account of a necessary but disliked industry.

The Squeeze has a heavy focus on the oil majors, such as BP, Exxon, Shell, Chevron and Mobil, but also looks at the smaller companies, service companies trader which surround the oil majors, generally known as Big Oil.


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