India as a country is not easy to understand. It never has been, with its glaring differences in strata of societies and not to mention the similarities sometimes, it is almost like a maze with no fixed end point. And that is because it is constantly evolving and ever-changing. With these changes moving at their own speed and yet the past not letting us get very far, Siddhartha Deb’s book, “The Beautiful and the Damned” – Life in the New India gives us new perspectives to think about.
Siddhartha Deb has undertaken something so huge with this book – to be able to unveil Modern India for us. To give the readers a sense of what is Modern India all about – from its economic viewpoints to cultural backgrounds to the way we think and sometimes trying to understand why we think and act the way we think and act.
The book is a series of four chapters that touch on Modern India – from the lifestyle of the BPO industry to the state of farmers in the country to the steel and mill workers and finally the women of the country. The first chapter that focused on IIMP and Arindam Chaudhari has been banned from being published in India. So the book does not have that included. So much for modernity and the fact that we live in a so-called democratic environment.
Siddhartha Deb is just chronicling his observations so to speak in this book. The fact that the chapters aren’t inter-related is refreshing, keeping the conclusions open to the reader. At the same time, I also feel that probably one book and four chapters aren’t enough to talk about New India. It sure does require more paper and thought space.
Having said that, the writing is taut and not too many words are wasted in getting through to the reader. Siddhartha Deb’s writing style is simple and clear. There aren’t too many metaphors, which could be the case while writing this kind of a book. I thoroughly enjoyed this read and to some extent it also gave me a different viewpoint on Modern India – its pros and its cons.