*India’s Tryst with Destiny*

by on December 20, 2012 at 2:02 pm in Books | Permalink

The authors are Jagdish Bhagwati and Arvind Panagariya and it is the new book on the contemporary Indian economy.  Self-recommending and absolutely excellent, full of useful details.  It is not yet on U.S. Amazon, but it is available in India and perhaps elsewhere.

dearieme December 20, 2012 at 5:53 pm

“Tryst With Destiny”: hurray, Victorian English is making a comeback.

Venkat December 20, 2012 at 10:24 pm

The title is a reference to Nehru’s speech on the eve of India’s independence (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tryst_with_Destiny)

So Much For Subtlety December 21, 2012 at 3:58 am

Well, in another twenty years they will have to subtitle him. In textspeak.

RR December 21, 2012 at 4:28 am

It is considered one of the great speeches of the century. http://www.guardian.co.uk/theguardian/series/greatspeeches
Nehru had extraordinary talent with the English language and I for one believed he could have been a contender for the Nobel prize in Literature. He wrote an amazing series of books while in prison.

For example an extract from his Will: 21. When I die, I should like my body to be cremated. If I die in a foreign country, my body should be cremated there and my ashes sent to Allahabad. A small handful of these ashes should be thrown in the Ganga and the major portion of them disposed of in the manner indicated below. No part of these ashes should be retained or preserved.
22. My desire to have a handful of my ashes thrown in the Ganga at Allahabad has no religious significance, so far as I am concerned. I have no religious sentiment in the matter. I have been attached to the Ganga and the Jumna rivers in Allahabad ever since my childhood and, as I have grown older, this attachment has also grown. I have watched their varying moods as the seasons changed, and have often thought of the history and myth and tradition and song and story that have become attached to them through the long ages and become part of the flowing waters. The Ganga, especially, is the river of India, beloved of her people, round which are intertwined her racial memories, her hopes and fears, her songs of triumph, her victories and her defeats. She has been a symbol of India’s age-long culture and civilization, ever-changing, ever-flowing and ever the same Ganga. She reminds me of the snow-covered peaks and the deep valleys of the Himalayas, which I have loved so much, and of the rich and vast plains below, where my life and work have been cast. Smiling and dancing in the morning sunlight, and dark and gloomy and full of mystery as the evening shadows fall; a narrow, slow and graceful stream in winter, and a vast roaring thing during the monsoon, broad-bosomed almost as the sea, and with something of the sea’s power to destroy, the Ganga has been to me a symbol and a memory of the past of India, running into the present, and flowing on to the great ocean of the future. And though I have discarded much of past tradition and custom, and am anxious that India should rid herself of all shackles that bind and constrain her and divide her people, and suppress vast numbers of them, and prevent the free development of the body and the spirit; though I seek all this, yet I do not wish to cut myself off from that past completely. I am proud of that great inheritance that has been, and is, ours, and I am conscious that I too, like all of us, am a link in that unbroken chain which goes back in the dawn of history in the immemorial past of India. That chain I would not break, for I treasure it and seek inspiration from it. And, as witness of this desire of mine and as my last homage to the great ocean that washes India’s shores.
23. The major portion of my ashes should, however, be disposed of otherwise. I want these to be carried high up into the air in an aeroplane and scattered from that height over the fields where the peasants of India toil, so that they might mingle with the dust and soil of India and become an indistinguishable part of India.

dearieme December 21, 2012 at 5:36 am

Nehru was born on 14 November 1889: see, he was a Victorian. Though the expression might be better described as Edwardian I suppose. Anyway, Victorian or Edwardian, it’s a real lead balloon of an expression.

dan1111 December 21, 2012 at 6:37 am

However, the phrase was an adaptation of a line from FDR, and thus neither Victorian nor Edwardian.

dearieme December 21, 2012 at 7:05 am

FDR was born on January 30, 1882, so if the expression was his might reasonably be called Victorian or Edwardian. Of course I’ve no idea when his speechwriter was born, if that’s who coined it (or plagiarised it?). Anyway, American, Indian or Elsewherian, it’s a real clunker.

dan1111 December 21, 2012 at 7:41 am

FDR was certainly not “Victorian”, nor were his words. We fought a war to free ourselves from that particularly monarchy ;).

Nyongesa December 22, 2012 at 11:20 pm


Only Americans believe the war it fought free’d itself of the british. Just like any person is an individual AND a product of their parents genes, Americans at the time and in many ways still are adult child of Britian. Being in the rabbit hole, this is not discernable to Americans though

Cobden December 20, 2012 at 7:28 pm
Pizza Man December 21, 2012 at 12:04 pm

Can others verify that this is indeed the same book.

RR December 21, 2012 at 11:22 pm

It is the same.Cobden is correct. From Prof. Bhagwati’s webpage:

Forthcoming Books
India’s Tryst with Destiny: Debunking Myths that Undermine Progress and Addressing New Challenges with Arvind Panagariya (Harper Collins,India; November 2012)
This book (to be published in India by Harper Collins and as “Why Growth Matters” by PublicAffairs in the United States) will counter negative perceptions about economic reforms. By exposing and deconstruncting long-standing myths, the authors demonstrate the lack of evidence that is often used to undermine reforms in India.

Statspotting.com December 21, 2012 at 1:02 am

Many people underestimate the importance of India in the global economy, in the next 10-15 years. Remember, this is a country with 1.3 billion peoploe, and unlike an ageing China, has huge demographic advantages – half of the population in India is under 25.

Looking forward to reading the book.

Therapsid December 21, 2012 at 1:21 pm

This is true, but India continues to suffer from a lack of ethnic, linguistic, and religious homogeneity and from lower average cognitive abilities compared to East Asian states. For these reasons, any visitor to the country is immediately aware of the utter disorganization and haphazardness of Indian society compared to Asian or Western countries. Can a country with such low levels of trust and social cohesion achieve affluence or is it more likely to become trapped in the middle income trap?

The most successful Indian majority nation is Mauritius, so if India can reach that level of development it would be solidly upper middle income.

RR December 21, 2012 at 11:10 pm

The lack of homogeneity is what sets India apart ; it will not become more homogenous and perhaps it should not. About lower cognitive abilities I am more skeptical ; as literacy levels improve , that will possibly show comparable cognitive levels. However I agree that it will not achieve significant levels of affluence at the median , only overall growth and GDP. Inequality is likely to remain high.

brad January 6, 2013 at 12:39 pm

I am sure Bhagwati and Pangraiya will conviniently ignore the appaaling human rights record with regard to the state of the lower castes and minorities in Gujarat and will look at the state’s achievements through the lens of growth solely. The most important voice on India’s development continues to be Amartya Sen. For decades, he has pointed out to the low social indicators of India’s several states as harbinger of greater social inequality and political instability. In the context o the social ferment in India, it is only Sen’s opinions which should be factored in by policy makers.

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