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The Idea of India

Sunil Khilnani; With a New Introduction by the Author

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Fifty years ago the British divided and departed from their most prized imperial possession, handing over the new Indian state to a small nationalist elite led by Jawaharlal Nehru. The new country was then driven by a belief in a political construct, the idea of India, an idea that for decades animated the citizens' efforts to unite their huge, diverse, and poor society and to transform it into a modern state fit to join the irreversible movement of world history.

Khilnani addresses the paradoxes and ironies that have surrounded this project of inventing India—a project that has brought Indians considerable political freedom and carried their enormous democracy to the verge of being Asia's greatest free state but that has also left many of them in poverty and that is now threatened by divisive religious nationalism. His historical analysis conveys modern India's energy, fluidity, and unpredictability—in its democracy and its voting patterns, in its visions of economic development, in its diverse cities and devotion to village culture, and in its current disputes over its political identity. Throughout, he provokes and illuminates this fundamental question: Can the original idea of India survive its own successes?

REVIEWS

Praise for The Idea of India

"A splid-and timely-book . . . Spirited, combative and insight-filled . . . Khilnani has woven a rich analysis of contemporary India and its evolution since indepence. I am inclined to agree with [him] on the robustness and staying power of the secular idea of India." --Amartya Sen, The Times Literary Supplement

"A masterful rebuttal to all cultural romantics and religious chauvinists . . . [A] splid book about definitions of the Indian nation." --Ian Buruma, The New York Review of Books

"Especially brilliant is Khilnani's attempt to understand the changing nature of India by studying its urban constructs." --Chitra Divakaruni, Los Angeles Times Book Review

Reviews from Goodreads

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Sunil Khilnani; With a New Introduction by the Author

  • Sunil Khilnani, born in New Delhi and educated at Cambridge University, teaches politics at Birkbeck College, University of London. The author of Arguing Revolution, he is at work on a biography of Nehru (forthcoming from FSG).
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    The Idea of India

    Sunil Khilnani; With a New Introduction by the Author

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    Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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