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Author Shashi Tharoor has spent half of his life outside of India, yet his position as a "NRI" (Non-resident Indian) has given him the distance and perspective necessary to produce India: From Midnight to the Millennium, an in-depth critique of the country's first fifty years of independence. Tharoor, currently executive assistant to the secretary general of the United Nations, is known for both his fiction (The Great Indian Novel, Show Business) and his journalism; in this effort, he blends fine prose with a reporter's talent for analysis, resulting in a skillful examination of some of the greatest challenges India has faced over the past five decades, as well as what lies ahead for the nation.
In chapters devoted to such diverse topics as caste, the free-for-all nature of Indian democracy, the troubled legacy of Indira Gandhi, and the partition of India and Pakistan in 1947, Tharoor both explicates the history of India since independence and attempts to define what makes India one country and Indians of various ethnic, religious, and cultural backgrounds one nationality. He is forthright in his discussion of the sectarian violence that has ripped through the country, the corruption that is rife throughout the ranks of the Indian civil service, and the difficulties that face a nation in which 48 percent of the population remains illiterate. Yet Shashi Tharoor writes of these problems with a sense of optimism about the future, confident in the ability of his countrymen to find solutions within a democratic political system. [via]