India Becoming: A Portrait of Life in Modern India

India Becoming: A Portrait of Life in Modern India

by Akash Kapur


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India Becoming: A Portrait of Life in Modern India by Akash Kapur

A portrait of incredible change and economic development, of social and national transformation told through individual lives

The son of an Indian father and an American mother, Akash Kapur spent his formative years in India and his early adulthood in the United States. In 2003, he returned to his birth country for good, eager to be part of its exciting growth and modernization. What he found was a nation even more transformed than he had imagined, where the changes were fundamentally altering Indian society, for better and sometimes for worse.

To further understand these changes, he sought out the Indians experiencing them firsthand. The result is a rich tapestry of lives being altered by economic development, and a fascinating insider's look at many of the most important forces shaping our world today. Much has been written about the rise of Asia and a rebalancing of the global economy, but rarely does one encounter these big stories with the level of nuance and detail that Kapur gives us in India Becoming.

Among the characters we meet are a broker of cows who must adapt his trade to a modernizing economy; a female call center employee whose relatives worry about her values in the city; a feudal landowner who must accept that he will not pass his way of life down to his children; and a career woman who wishes she could "outsource" having a baby.

Through these stories and many others, Kapur provides a fuller understanding of the complexity and often contradictory nature of modern India. India Becoming is particularly noteworthy for its emphasis on rural India-a region often neglected in writing about the country, though 70 percent of the population still lives there. In scenes reminiscent of R. K. Narayan's classic works on the Indian countryside, Kapur builds intimate portraits of farmers, fishermen, and entire villages whose ancient ways of life are crumbling, giving way to an uncertain future that is at once frightening and full of promise. Kapur himself grew up in rural India; his descriptions of change and modernization are infused with a profound-at times deeply poignant- firsthand understanding of the loss that must accompany all development and progress.

India Becoming is essential reading for anyone interested in our changing world and the newly emerging global order. It is a riveting narrative that puts the personal into a broad, relevant and revelational context.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781594488191
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 03/15/2012
Pages: 304
Product dimensions: 6.32(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.08(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Akash Kapur is the former "Letter from India" columnist for the International Herald Tribune and the online edition of The New York Times. He has also written for The Atlantic, The Economist, Granta, The New Yorker, and The New York Times. He holds a B.A. in social anthropology from Harvard, and a doctorate in law from Oxford University, which he attended as a Rhodes scholar. He lives outside Pondicherry, in southern India.

Table of Contents

Prologue 1

Part I

Golden Times 15

Demographic Dividends 43

The Shandy 77

Garden City 111

A Drowning 143

Part II

Blindness 169

Goondagiri 195

Dioxins 220

Hard Times 243

Reality 269

Acknowledgments 288

Glossary 291

What People are Saying About This

Ramachandra Guha

Through a series of deft character sketches, Akash Kapur captures the contradictions of life in modern India— between city and country, technology and aesthetics, development and the environment, greed and selflessness, individual fulfilment and community obligation. His writing is fresh and vivid; his perspective, empathetic and appealingly non-judgemental. (Ramachandra Guha, author of India after Gandhi)

Philip Gourevitch

Akash Kapur is a wonderful writer: a courageously clear-eyed observer, an astute listener, a masterful portraitist, and a gripping story teller. His voice is as sure and as intimate as his subject is chaotic and immense, and he proves himself the perfect guide to the enthralling promise and the terrifying menace of a society in the throes of colossal, epochal, all-encompassing change.

David Lida

Akash Kapur invites us to explore a country collapsing with contradictions. A place where the "successful" amass mountainous credit-card debt while three hundred million live on less than a dollar a day, a place where more people have cell phones than access to a toilet. I have never been to India, but after reading Kapur's fascinating and absorbing book I almost feel as if I have. (David Lida, author of First Stop in the New World: Mexico City, the Capital of the 21st Century)

Pankaj Mishra

Akash Kapur lives in and writes out of an India that few writers venture into. Curious, suspicious of received wisdom, and intellectually resourceful, his writing has established him as one of the most reliable observers of the New India. (Pankaj Mishra, author of Temptations of the West: How to Be Modern in India, Pakistan, Tibet, and Beyond)

From the Publisher

“A fascinating look at the transformation of India, with broader lessons on the upside and downside of progress.”—Booklist (starred)

“[A] Lively, anecdotal look at the people who have been vastly changed by the entrepreneurial explosion in India. . . . An honest, conflicted glimpse of a country.”—Kirkus

Kwame Anthony Appiah

Beautifully written...Akash Kapur celebrates the gains and mourns the losses, conveying a complex story through the ups and downs of the lives of some fascinating individual women and men. (Kwame Anthony Appiah, author of Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers)

William Dalrymple

Akash Kapur's marvellous book is unique in looking mainly at the south and in a detailed and intimate away at village life. He shows how the old rural cycle of the south Indian village depicted and romanticised by RK Narayan is fracturing and breaking apart to reveal a very new more unstable world where the old certainties are disappearing and everything is up for grabs. 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: In Search of the Sacred in Modern India)

Gurcharan Das

India today is in the midst of profound change and Akash Kapur captures the impact of that change on the lives of ordinary Indians with a narrative that avoids all clichés, platitudes, and simplifications. (Gurcharan Das, author of India Unbound)

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India Becoming: A Portrait of Life in Modern India 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
i will meet the author tonight at a lecture on the subject of his new book. from the little i've read so far of the book and the video clip here on B&N, i can say my first impression is one of deep empathy. as an indian-american myself, my main attitude towards india is ambivalence towards the dichotomy mr. kapur talks about. the author seems to "get it" and mirror my own unsure sentiment. but i shall reserve (full) judgement) til when i've completed the book and met the author.