Saturday, March 23, 2013

Book Review :: Superstar India

Superstar India - From Incredible to UnstoppableSuperstar India - From Incredible to Unstoppable by Shobhaa Dé
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Is India a superpower?

Is it ready to plunge itself into the world and take lead? In this book, Shobhaa De explores these and many other aspects of India. Starting with the dirt streets of Agra en route to the Taj Mahal, she takes us across India, explores the similarities with China, goes to Mayawati and Rakhi Sawant, cricket and religion, sex and social pretension, men, women – you name it! It’s all India. De discusses every issue that makes India what it is today – young India, jawan India, our India.

There isn’t anything new that you learn from the book. We know all the things mentioned in it. Sometimes, it takes a reminder to get over the cynicism and negativity surrounding India to celebrate its success that it earned over its 60 independent years. De takes each issue with passion and brings out both the negative and positive aspects surrounding it. For example:

The trouble is Indians aren’t used to being prosperous. We are more comfortable dealing with poverty – after all, poverty is a stable here, and has been for centuries.
- Pg. 29


Soon after, she points out that from being dependent on food, we achieved self-sufficiency not just in the agricultural area but also that we now use ‘plastic money’. Money is flowing. Rightly, put. We all use ATM cards and credit cards now!

It’s platinum and titanium that rules. And plastic of course.
- Pt. 32


Taking each issue with this view, she proves that India has indeed made itself into a superpower. Don’t fool yourselves though. This book is a highly opinionated blog of De’s. It is true that ALL of De’s predictions (Mayawati’s coming to power, Rahul Gandhi’s fiasco, cricket’s future, etc) have turned out true. However, we must not forget that there are two sides to every coin. Moreover, when opinion is concerned everyone has his or hers. Especially in India.

What is great about the book is De’s belief in India’s strengths and her undying faith in our people.

There are signs of progress – real progress – at all levels. It depends on a person’s perspective. If anybody wishes to remain focused on the downside (poverty, disease, lack of education, corruption), well, India has enough horror stories to keep pessimists ‘happy’. The mood of the nation, however, is anything but downcast, despite some daunting prospects. If one focuses on the upside, even something small as Mumbai and Hyderabad’s new airport terminals causes spirit to soar, along with all those countless national and international flights taking off skywards.
- Pg. 408


The book's pace is extremely interesting. Every chapter's placement is apt. It would be difficult to lose interest in it once you begin. The flow is beautiful. However, the writing style is understandably inarticulate. But, that does not stop me from giving it full four stars! For once, even I can overlook literary issues. The reason is – we are like that only! *wink*

Personally, I found the book very captivating. I stuck countless notes here and there in the book, which cannot be shared here. All that will go in my blog. I can safely say this though – read it if you enjoy India. You don’t have to love it to understand it. You have to live it. That for me qualifies as a must-read.

View all my reviews