Gurcharan Das India Unbound

ISBN 13: 9780143063018

India Unbound

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9780143063018: India Unbound

India Unbound is the riveting story of a nation s rise from poverty to prosperity and the clash of ideas that occurred along the way. Today s India is a vibrant free-market democracy, and it has begun to flex its muscles in the global information economy. The old centralized, bureaucratic state, which stifled industrial growth, is on the decline; the lower castes have risen confidently through the ballot box; and the middle class has tripled in the last two decades. This economic and social transformation is one of the major themes of this book. Gurcharan Das recounts the hope and despair of the last fifty years. The Licence Raj created a work environment in which a cousin of the author, on his first day at work in the railways, could precipiate a strike just because he was honest. And on one occasion, the author, even though a seasoned executive, was driven to sit by the polluted Yamuna and weep after a fruitless meeting with a bureaucrat. The transformation began in the golden summer of 1991, when a reticent reformer, Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao, finally changed the nation s course through sweeping economic reforms. A restrictive regime, in which the state dictated everything, from a woman s choice of lipstick to the programmes on television, gave way to the optimism of a rising middle class eager to compete with the rest of the world. It was a quiet revolution, one that has not been chronicled before. Gurcharan Das examines the highs and lows of independent India through the prism of history and his own experiences and those of numerous others he has met following the reforms, from young people in sleepy UP villages to the chiefs of software companies in Bangalore. Defining and exploring the new mindset of the nation, India Unbound is the perfect introduction to contemporary India. The powerful story of a nation's transition from poverty to prosperity. Examining the highs and lows of independent India through the prism of history and his own experiences, Gurcharan Das defines the new mindset of the nation in riveting prose.

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Review:

Since the start of the recent global boom in information technology, there's been much talk in economic circles of an India covered with bold stripes, the next Asian tiger. Gurcharan Das, however, sees a much larger but lumbering elephant rising out of the muggy history of a country in which one-sixth of the world's population resides. India, as he states in India Unbound, "will never have speed, but it will always have stamina." How that stamina has evidenced itself over the past half-century is the focus of Das's book, an intricate, personal account of the beginnings of India's ongoing economic and social transformation.

Das begins his story shortly before India gained its independence from the British in 1947. He was born into a middle-class Punjabi family well ensconced in the new British-educated professional class. Das's borrowed term of "cultural commuters" fits his father's generation well, and his description of life lived between the more philosophical and spiritual worlds of Indian tradition and the Western-influenced business world of the British Raj reveal both a versatility and disorientation that was to permeate succeeding generations of independent Indians. Though mindful of Jawaharlal Nehru's influence on India's embrace of democracy, Das takes to task the economic leadership of the man who, while beginning his democratic rule with ambitions to end "poverty and ignorance and disease and inequality of opportunity" ultimately failed in this regard. With an ever-present eye on the economic plight of his fellow countrymen (and frequent use of anecdotes and statistics), Das examines the irony of the socialist governments of Nehru and Indira Gandhi, which were founded in the name of the poor but became inefficient, bureaucratic behemoths, sucking the economic lifeblood out of the country. His education at Harvard introduced him to a slew of influential theories, including those of economist John Kenneth Galbraith and philosopher John Rawls. But instead of remaining in academia, Das began his career in business, joining the Indian subsidiary of Vicks and rising to become head of its Indian company, Richardson Hindustan, in 1981, and eventually, a CEO at Proctor & Gamble. Soon after the economic reforms of the early 1990s, however, Das left to employ his keen observational skills as a journalist and writer, and the latter part of this book is crammed with his insights into the opportunities of present-day India. Das is obviously enthusiastic about the possibilities that the knowledge economy has opened up for India, but he thoughtfully examines these economic options within the framework of the cultural past and future of a country on the "brink of the biggest transformation in its history."

As an autobiography that touches on every area of life but focuses a keen eye on economic development, Das's account is jam-packed with detail. At every chance, he sets the personal story of his family and ancestors in the wider context of history (often for full chapters at a time), creating a broad and richly detailed picture of Indian life. Though he writes in colorful, descriptive prose, Das's succinct and matter-of-fact statements occasionally seem to belie the complexity and ambiguities of historical and cultural transitions. However, India Unbound is a vast undertaking, and Das's combination of historical account, economic analysis, cultural observation, and personal experience is often intriguing and always informative. --S. Ketchum

From the Inside Flap:

India today is a vibrant free-market democracy and has begun to flex its muscles in the global information economy and on the world stage. Now, acclaimed columnist Gurcharan Das traces India's recent social and economic transformations in an eminently readable, impassioned narrative.

Das tells the stories of the major players in a period of rapid and profound change?from schoolchildren inspired by Nehru's speeches in the early days of Independence to the current software impresarios?and makes comprehensible and compelling the economic and political development responsible for these changes. He weaves his personal story into the larger context of contemporary history: his family's move to America in the mid-1950s, his education at Harvard, his years in India as a young marketing executive wrestling with a socialist system he feared would undermine the country's vast potential. He also shows us the reasons behind his optimism for his nation's future, among which is the exciting landscape of information technology today.

Das argues that the changes of the past fifty years have, at last, amounted to a revolution?and it is one that has not been chronicled before. With India Unbound, he gives us a book that is at once vigorously analytical and vividly written?an essential insider's road map to India, then and now.

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Gurcharan Das
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ISBN 10: 0143063014 ISBN 13: 9780143063018
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Book Description Penguin Books India/Viking, 2000. Softcover. Book Condition: New. 5th or later edition. India Unbound is the riveting story of a nation?s rise from poverty to prosperity and the clash of ideas that occurred along the way. Today?s India is a vibrant free-market democracy, and it has begun to flex its muscles in the global information economy. The old centralized, bureaucratic state, which stifled industrial growth, is on the decline; the lower castes have risen confidently through the ballot box; and the middle class has tripled in the last two decades. This economic and social transformation is one of the major themes of this book. Gurcharan Das recounts the hope and despair of the last fifty years. The Licence Raj created a work environment in which a cousin of the author, on his first day at work in the railways, could precipiate a strike just because he was honest. And on one occasion, the author, even though a seasoned executive, was driven to sit by the polluted Yamuna and weep after a fruitless meeting with a bureaucrat. The transformation began in the golden summer of 1991, when a reticent reformer, Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao, finally changed the nation?s course through sweeping economic reforms. A restrictive regime, in which the state dictated everything, from a woman?s choice of lipstick to the programmes on television, gave way to the optimism of a rising middle class eager to compete with the rest of the world. It was a quiet revolution, one that has not been chronicled before. Gurcharan Das examines the highs and lows of independent India through the prism of history and his own experiences and those of numerous others he has met following the reforms, from young people in sleepy UP villages to the chiefs of software companies in Bangalore. Defining and exploring the new mindset of the nation, India Unbound is the perfect introduction to contemporary India. The powerful story of a nation`s transition from poverty to prosperity. Examining the highs and lows of independent India through the prism of history and his own experiences, Gurcharan Das defines the new mindset of the nation in riveting prose. Printed Pages: 256. Bookseller Inventory # 21892

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Gurcharan Das
Published by Penguin Books India/Viking (2000)
ISBN 10: 0143063014 ISBN 13: 9780143063018
New Softcover Quantity Available: > 20
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Book Description Penguin Books India/Viking, 2000. Softcover. Book Condition: New. 5th or later edition. India Unbound is the riveting story of a nationâs rise from poverty to prosperity and the clash of ideas that occurred along the way. Todayâs India is a vibrant free-market democracy, and it has begun to flex its muscles in the global information economy. The old centralized, bureaucratic state, which stifled industrial growth, is on the decline; the lower castes have risen confidently through the ballot box; and the middle class has tripled in the last two decades. This economic and social transformation is one of the major themes of this book. Gurcharan Das recounts the hope and despair of the last fifty years. The Licence Raj created a work environment in which a cousin of the author, on his first day at work in the railways, could precipiate a strike just because he was honest. And on one occasion, the author, even though a seasoned executive, was driven to sit by the polluted Yamuna and weep after a fruitless meeting with a bureaucrat. The transformation began in the golden summer of 1991, when a reticent reformer, Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao, finally changed the nationâs course through sweeping economic reforms. A restrictive regime, in which the state dictated everything, from a womanâs choice of lipstick to the programmes on television, gave way to the optimism of a rising middle class eager to compete with the rest of the world. It was a quiet revolution, one that has not been chronicled before. Gurcharan Das examines the highs and lows of independent India through the prism of history and his own experiences and those of numerous others he has met following the reforms, from young people in sleepy UP villages to the chiefs of software companies in Bangalore. Defining and exploring the new mindset of the nation, India Unbound is the perfect introduction to contemporary India. The powerful story of a nation`s transition from poverty to prosperity. Examining the highs and lows of independent India through the prism of history and his own experiences, Gurcharan Das defines the new mindset of the nation in riveting prose. Printed Pages: 256. Bookseller Inventory # 21892

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