Wednesday, January 27, 2021

On India in Love…and money

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Romance is more important than money… but India can’t pay its bills with hugs. 

India in Love.Indian Link
With books about South Asia or authored by South Asian-origin authors coming out fast and furious, we cast our eyes over two books of non-fiction that are crying out for attention. Although they straddle two entirely different fields, each book is a superb work of scholarly research and writing that any thinking Indian (as readers of this column are!) would find deeply satisfying reads.
Ira Trivedi’s book India in Love: Marriage and Sexuality in the 21st Century (Penguin 2009) takes a long and hard look at the sexual revolution sweeping across India. The author, now living in Delhi, chronicles a ‘bizarre melange’ of arranged marriages and a western-style dating culture as well as the coexistence of traditional culture with the ‘modern’, sometimes even in the one individual. A person could be going through the process of meeting prospective partners through a match-maker, and be dating and mating at the same time. This has been propelled by rapid westernisation, the emancipation of women, the break-up of the extended family and changing sexual values – all occurring at break-neck speed.
India in Love Ira Trivedi.Indian Link
The Indian demographic too has been a driving force. Trivedi points out that the current Indian population is one of the youngest in the world, with an average age of about 30; by the year reveals that in the process of writing the book, she discovered there is a massive upheaval of sexual mores taking place in urban India, and that it is permanent. She travelled the length and breadth of India, visiting scores of cities and towns, and came to the conclusion, “We are never going back to the India of our past.” The sexual revolution has begun, is gaining pace, and nothing can stop it.
Some of our regular readers expressed a desire to see more books on the Indian economy reviewed in this column, so I chose one that is particularly thought-provoking, controversial and bound to raise several hackles. Restart: The Last Chance for the Indian Economy (Random House, 2015), by Mihir Sharma, is an incisive analysis of the problems that have prevented India from realising its economic potential.
Restart Mihir.Indian Link
Those familiar with Harvard-educated Mihir Sharma’s OpEds in the Business Standard – and previously The Indian Express – know that he does not mince words. In Restart, he explains what needs to change in order to unleash the potential and creativity of a billion Indians. The answers are not the obvious ones that are found in economic textbooks.
Sharma identifies a surprising medley of problems that are holding India back. The first, he argues is the Gandhian fallacy of a rural bliss, forcing the poor to stay on in unproductive marginal farms in programs like the Mahatma Gandhi Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme [MGNREGA]. This is the guarantee they will stay poor.

mihir-s-sharma.Indian Link
Mihir Sharma

Second is the failure of the Indian state to rein in its private sector partners in the public-private partnership model [PPP]. Sharma quotes the eminent columnist T.N. Ninan here: “India is a strong state when it comes to bullying the poor, but a weak state when it comes to controlling the rich.”  The third major failure, Sharma argues is the problem of crony capitalism in India.
For India to overcome these, it needs to explore ‘another way to grow’, and a radical transformation, and a political will to introduce reforms. Modi’s is the very last chance to break the old order.

- Advertisement -
Chitra Sudarshan
Chitra Sudarshan is an academic and a public servant.

Related Articles


Ep8: Indian links in Indigenous Australian poet Ali Cobby Eckermann’s life

To celebrate NAIDOC week 2020 (between 8-15 November) I spoke to Yakunytjatjara poet Ali Cobby Eckermann about her time in India where she taught...

Ep 7: In the case of Sushant Singh Rajput

  The torrid and high-octane Sushant Singh Rajput case has been fodder for Indian people and press for the last few months. The actor’s tragic...

Ep 6: The Indian LGBTQ+ community in 2020

  It’s been two years since the world’s largest democracy repealed the draconian Section 377 which used to allow discrimination against homosexual people. Only this...

Latest News

Dr anand naidoo OAM and family

Australia Day Awards 2021: Dr Anand Naidoo OAM

  "I am pleased and honoured," Dr Anand Naidoo of Coffs Harbour NSW told Indian Link, about his Australia Day felicitation this year. He added laughingly,...

Australia Day Awards 2021: The late Dr Amarjit Singh More, OAM

  As a proud Sikh and a proud Australian, Dr Amarjit Singh More was deeply passionate about both identities, serving both communities with unwavering commitment. "Our...

President hails farmers, scientists and soldiers in Republic Day speech

  On the eve of Republic Day, President Ram Nath Kovind said justice, liberty, equality, and fraternity, outlined in the Preamble of the Constitution, are...
aboriginal flag

Indigenous Australians, living without conciliation

  I am a citizen of Australia and yet I am not a citizen of the nation I reside in within Australia. This anomaly affects...

The night we fled our home in Kashmir

  “26 January is coming up, memsaab,” the milkman I had known for years said to me. “Maybe you should put up a black flag...