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India Becoming: A Portrait of Life in Modern India (edition 2012)

by Akash Kapur

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8423143,474 (3.4)31
Member:kgodey
Title:India Becoming: A Portrait of Life in Modern India
Authors:Akash Kapur
Info:Riverhead Hardcover (2012), Hardcover, 304 pages
Collections:Your library, Review Copies, Owned & Read
Rating:***
Tags:ARC, non-fiction, india

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

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I picked up this book from the library. I thought that I would learn something new, or gain a new insight, something that would help me talk to foreigners about what is happening in India. As per my kids, I belong to the dinosaur generation. Yet, there is one advantage that I have - I am in the middle of three generations. My parents witnessed the splintering of India into three countries. They were the generation that tasted freedom. I am the generation that started to go out into the world. My kids are the new India. Yet, India remains the same.

I like the anecdotes in the book. They make for interesting reading, yet after a while the anecdotes pall on me. It is a good book for people who don't know India. But, for people who know India, like me, it is an opportunity gone. There is so much that is happening in India, and this is not possible for one person to cover in one book. Yet, just a little more would have been much nicer, and much more satisfying. ( )
  RajivC | Apr 30, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Akash Kapur grew up in India and the United States; in 2003, finding America stagnant and India in the middle of something new and exciting, he relocated back to India. India Becoming is largely anecdotal, as he follows the stories of various people he has gotten to know: Sathy, from an old zamindar (landlord) family, whose wife is more comfortable in the economic boom of Bangalore; Veena, an ambitious woman trying to balance her own ambitions with cultural expectations; Hari, a young gay man struggling to be comfortable with his identity in a traditional culture; Jayvel the cow broker, seeing his field become obsolete; and Selvi, a young woman come from the country to work in one of the many booming call centers. Kapur teeters between celebration and critique, admiring the energy in the new India at the same time he deplores the environmental and social costs of India's deregulation and economic boom. As a result, the book feels somewhat wishy-washy; every time I expected him to bear down on some social problem, he instead flipped things around and saw the other side. An interesting book, but unfocused. ( )
  chelseagirl | May 31, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I read India Becoming right before my second trip to India. I thought it was interesting and liked how he contrasted positive economic growth with the damages that are left behind. His thoughts may me view southern India more objectively as I spent days working in an air-conditioned room while watching farmers manually preparing rice paddies for planting out my window. Seeing huge new buildings made me wonder who had been displaced. I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in India.
  marilynsantiago | Apr 27, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I received an Early Reviewers copy of Akash Kapur’s India Becoming: A Portrait of Life in Modern India, courtesy LibraryThing.

Kapur's book offers a commentary on India's transformation in the past few decades since it liberalized its economy. He touches upon many social issues affecting contemporary India – a crumbling feudal system, casteism, untouchability, homosexuality, atheism, the changing position of women in society, general lawlessness, urbanization, and booming real estate. He also expresses alarm at ecological time bombs – rampant pollution, and the agricultural crisis.

The title India Becoming seems incomplete to me. Rather than use any of the several words for change – transformation, transition, evolution, Kapur has chosen to use the word 'becoming' as if to imply a definite end point.Besides pointing out, rightly, that India’s development has ignored crucial issues of sustainability and has only widened the gap between the rich and the poor, Kapur has little to say about what he sees India becoming, or what can be done to address the real issues that he writes about. Although the title hints at India’s future, the book is strongly rooted in the present.

India's story is probably not unique. Kapur's book does offer a window into what might be happening in other parts of the world as they all succumb to 'bland homogenization of 21st century capitalism'

From my blog at :http://rrameshv.wordpress.com/2012/04/05/india-becoming-what/ ( )
1 vote uttara82 | Apr 5, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Up close and personal account of modern-day India provided by an India-born, Harvard & Oxford educated family man. Kapur returns to his native land after working in New York and starts examining the sharp contrast between the semi-socialist, primarily agrarian culture of decades past with the rapidly expanding urban culture generated by India's booming information technology and service industry sector during the last 2 decades. I found the author provided a balanced account of both the pros (easing of the caste system) and cons (overcrowding, increased violent crime) associated with the tumultuous sociological and economic shift that India is currently experiencing. I was particularly impressed by way he used years of interviews with a wide variety of citizens from far-reaching demographics to personalize the topic for his readers. Additionally, I was pleased he addressed the serious environmental impacts of their rapid growth and transformation to a consumer culture. A very enlightening and thought-provoking book on an emerging superpower. I am so glad Early Reviewers provided me the opportunity to digest this important information and I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in cultural affairs, public health, urban planning, international law and finance, globalization, environmental studies, sociology, human rights, agribusiness, emerging markets, and related fields. ( )
  dele2451 | Mar 21, 2012 |
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"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"--… (more)

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