Rana Dasgupta

Christopher Lydon’s perennially fascinating Radio Open Source is doing a series of programs on India, well worth your attention even [maybe especially] if the Indian Subcontinent isn’t your usual territory. This bit of comparative analysis by Rana Dasgupta is typical of the richness:

America is a society of systems: there should be nothing that eludes the state – with systems of policing, control, regulation. That is clearly not the case in India. Indians accept that things cannot be systematized, that there is inherent chaos, that you don’t have to understand your neighbor, that he may live an incredibly different life from yours, but that’s not a problem. The incredible ramshackle bric-a-brac nature of Indian cities, where slums are next to high rises, is not felt to be a great shock. The face that people hack into electricity systems to run their slums is treated with wry humor by middle class Indians…

I suspect these things will play out to Indians’ advantage, because Indians will be much more comfortable in the US than Americans will be in India. And at a time when the new major economic growth prospects are in countries that look more like India than they do like America, Indians will be an incredibly mobile and flexible work population… Even being very wealthy they are quite comfortable living in a house that runs out of water quite often, and runs out of electricity. They’re able to go into weird places in central Asia and Africa and feel quite okay, knowing how things operate… (30 minutes into the program)

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