• ‘‘
    This is a remarkably absorbing account of an India in transition – full of challenges and contradictions, but also of expectations, hope, and ultimately optimism.”
    — Amartya Sen, Nobel Laureate
  • ‘‘
    There are many virtues of Akash Kapur’s beautifully sketched portrait of modern India. The book reads like a novel. Kapur’s skill is to get people talking and to weave their stories into a necessarily messy debate about India’s future.”
    The Financial Times
  • ‘‘
    Impressively lucid and searching... In his clarity, sympathy and impeccably sculpted prose, Kapur often summons the spirit of V. S. Naipaul.”
    — Pico Iyer, Time magazine
  • ‘‘
    A wonderful writer: a courageously clear-eyed
    observer, an astute listener, a masterful portraitist, and a gripping storyteller.”
    — Philip Gourevitch,
         author of We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We
         Will Be Killed With Our Families
  • ‘‘
    [R]eadable, acutely observed, and crammed with well-drawn characters.... Mr. Kapur offers a corrective to a simplistic 'new, happy narrative' of a rising India. That is welcome and he does it well.”
    The Economist
  • ‘‘
    Marvelous... Sharp-eyed, insightful, skillfully-sketched and
    beautifully written, India Becoming is the
    remarkable debut of a distinctive new talent.”
    — William Dalrymple, author of Nine Lives
  • ‘‘
    Akash Kapur lives in and writes out of an India that few writers venture into. His writing has established him as one of the most reliable observers of the New India.”
    — Pankaj Mishra, author of Temptations of the West
  • ‘‘
    Lucid, balanced. Kapur is determinedly fair-minded, neither an apologist nor a scold, and he is a wonderfully empathetic listener.”
    The New York Times Book Review
  • ‘‘
    Through a series of deft character sketches, Akash Kapur captures the contradictions of life in modern India...His writing is fresh and vivid; his perspective, empathetic and appealingly non-judgemental.”
    — Ramachandra Guha,
         author of India after Gandhi
  • ‘‘
    A fascinating look at the transformation of India, with broader lessons on the upside and downside of progress.”
    Booklist (starred review)

The Economic Crisis India Needs

My article in Bloomberg Businessweek, on India’s economic crisis–its worst in over two decades.

India finds itself in a particularly tight situation for at least two reasons. First, the nation’s current-account deficit, at 4.8 percent, is one of the largest among major emerging markets. With growth down, and exports subdued because of lower demand in China and Europe, that deficit is becoming harder to service. Second, any attempt to raise interest rates to tame inflation could further stifle investment and growth.

A dangerous—and dangerously self-reinforcing—narrative is taking hold. While policymakers tout the nation’s solid fundamentals, there’s a growing sense that they’re essentially helpless. There is talk of a possible credit downgrade; rumors abound (vigorously denied by the government) that India might eventually need an IMF loan. “Signs of panic,” editorialized theFinancial Express, one of India’s leading dailies.

India’s problems are certainly real. The country’s facing what is widely acknowledged to be its most severe crisis since 1991. But as dismal as the situation appears, India could yet emerge stronger, if not quite unscathed, from its troubles. In fact, a case could be made that India’s struggles are just the medicine its economy requires.

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The Fight Over India’s Future

My article in the Wall Street Journal on the feud between Amartya Sen and Jagdish Bhagwati–and what it signifies for India’s economic development.

Indian politics isn’t generally known for its intellectual bent, so it was a curious sight last week when two Ivy League professors were thrust into the political limelight here. Harvard’s Amartya Sen and Columbia’s Jagdish Bhagwati are two of India’s most eminent economists. Mr. Sen is a Nobel laureate and former master of Trinity College, Cambridge; Mr. Bhagwati is a much-decorated scholar of international trade. Both are highly respected, both have recently published books on Indian development—and both have been engaged in a long-simmering feud.

Recently, their intellectual differences were recast in the mold of political combat. Mr. Bhagwati, thrust into the role of a right-wing BJP supporter, was grilled on TV and in newspaper interviews about his voting intentions. Mr. Sen found himself in the part of a cheerleader for the ruling Congress party and its welfarist policies

The equation is simplistic. Neither Mr. Sen nor Mr. Bhagwati is so easily pinned down; nor, for that matter, have India’s top political parties been ideologically consistent on economic policy. Much of the noise is simply an indication of rising political temperatures: Elections are due in early 2014, and the battle lines are already being drawn. But the controversy and accompanying media circus are an indication, too, of something more serious. They point to a growing debate within India about the state of its economy and the direction the nation should be taking.

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More Media Roundup

India Becoming received a nice review in The Pioneer newspaper, and I enjoyed this conversation with Sebastien Cortes in The Oberoi Group Magazine. The Times of India also ran this conversation with Dr. Srijana Mitra Das. Also, a couple pieces on India Becoming in the Kochi editions of The Hindu and The Indian Express.

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More Best of 2012 Books

India Becoming features on two more “Best of 2012″ books. Isaac Chotiner includes it in his list for The New Republic, and Sudeep Sen in his list for The Indian Express. Meanwhile, here is my own Best of 2012 selection that ran in The Hindustan Times.

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More media coverage

Some more media coverage of India Becoming. Tishani Doshi writes a very nice piece in The Indian Express, Businessworld runs a generous review, and The Hindu runs this interview. Also, Conde Nast Traveller (the UK edition) has this piece on Pondicherry that mentions the book.

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India Becoming on NDTV

I recently had the privilege of a conversation with Sunil Sethi on Just Books, his long-running program on NDTV. The segment on India Becoming starts at about the 12th minute.

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India Becoming a New Yorker “Best Books of 2012″ selection

India Becoming has been included on the list of The New Yorker‘s “Best Books of 2012.” Thanks to Evan Osnos, The New Yorker‘s excellent Beijing Correspondent, for choosing the book. There are some great other books on this list, too–some of which I know, and some which I certainly intend to read.

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Indian Media Roundup, Part 2

A lot to include in this second India media roundup for India Becoming. The Financial Express runs this nice review, The Indian Express does a profile/review, and Tehelka an interview.The PTI wire service also does a review/interview and The Hindu does a “Table for Two” feature (in which I announce my conversion to flexitarianism!). And finally, this photo essay feature from the online portal SIFY.

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Indian media roundup for India Becoming, Part 1

A roundup of some recent media from the Indian launch of Indian Becoming. Outlook carried this generous review, and The Hindustan Times had this nice writeup. See also these two (1,2) pieces from The Hindu, these two (1, 2) from The Times of India, and this one from The Indian Express. Stay tuned for more roundups soon…

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Review of Rushdie’s Joseph Anton

from Bloomberg Businessweek

Rushdie makes no pretense at objective analysis, but in the shade and texture he offers, in his portrayal of a man caught between the jaws of civilizational conflict, he does something far more valuable. He insists on complexity and nuance where polemic and cliché so often reign. This is what writers do. And this, ultimately, is Rushdie’s triumph. In an age of rising intolerance and diminished literary confidence, Joseph Anton—like Rushdie’s own life—strikes a blow for the continued relevance of literature.

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