Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Thinkfest: Explaining India: The Most Persistent Mistakes we Make

The one session we at The Book Lovers are looking forward to at the Think Festival event? It has got to be Explaining India: The Most Persistent Mistakes we Make with Pavan Varma, William Dalrymple and Ashish Nandy.

William Dalrymple after spending many years in India and travelling through length and breadth of this country would definitely enrich the session with his insights and knowledge. Ashis Nandy needs no introduction he is an Indian political psychologist and a contemporary cultural and political critic. He is, without a doubt, India's most formidable and controversial intellectual, its most arresting thinker, and a cultural and political critic without perhaps any equal in South Asia. And joining the two would be Pavan Varma , he is a senior bureaucrat of the Indian Government and a seasoned diplomat. The author of a dozen books on equally diverse areas such as biography, poetry, social sciences, civic affairs, and history. His book The Great Indian Middle Class (1998) tends to be the first one that people read when they try to decipher the rise of the middle class in India. Being Indian (2004) is a masterpiece that even Indians should read to understand who they are and why they are. The subtitle says “The truth about why the twenty first century will be India’s.”

So with three stalwarts as a part of the panel the session without a doubt will be truly engaging and interesting. How do I think the session will progress and the topic that would definitely be deliberated and discussed upon as per me would be the unity in diversity of this country- is it over rated? Are the various states at war amongst themselves and the nation as a whole? Are we hurtling into the development zone without an actual plan in place? Is there an order in the madness that we see today? Am sure William Dalrymple would be able to give us keen insights into this.

The most persistent mistake would be the politics that our politicians have been playing since time immemorial that of religion and caste. Can India afford to move ahead if it continues with the games our politicians play. Is coalition politics a boon or a bane for this nation? I would really like to hear Ashis Nandy on this.

Can India move to the next level without good relations with our immediate neighbours? What about the great Indian middle class which has been the driver in this growth story of India. Where are we headed as a nation. What are the past mistakes that we absolutely have to learn from and the persistent problem that people face in this great Indian nation?

This session is something we excitedly look forward to on day 2 of the festival. Let’s see if it shapes up as we imagine it to be!


  1. Wondering if you would be interested in a Literature Fest.

    TATA Literature Live is a Mumbai LitFest which will be held on November 3, 4, 5 and 6 at the National Centre for Performing Arts, Nariman Point. Well-known writers, both international and domestic, have been invited and all four verticals (fiction, non-fiction, poetry and plays) of literature will be represented.

    If you want to attend or participate email me at

  2. Opps sorry Ayushi, just saw this. Many apologies. Would have loved to but I guess it is over and done with! Next year perhaps! :(