Power and perception
Arun Gaur

Think India: The Rise of the World’s Next Superpower and What it Means for Every American
by Vinay Rai and William L. Simon. Dutton (Penguin). Pages 304. $ 25.95

This book seems to have been written essentially for the Americans to reassure them that the Indians would soon become the largest potential customers worldwide for consumer goods and services and that "For American businesses, India, instead of posing a threat, in fact offers remarkable new opportunities".

The authors are confident that "by 2050, in partnership with the USA and other nations India will lead the free-world markets". This is in accordance with the Friedman’s theory that the "ever-increasing access to technology and communications is leading to a flattening in which the industrialised nations no longer have a significant advantage. The world becomes a level playing field".

Going through the politics of alliance and counter-alliance among India, Russia, China, Pakistan and the USA, the book quite bitterly reviews India’s ‘Soviet tilt’ that effectively stifled Indian economy, culture and social structure: "It is a cruel irony of the Cold War era’s geo politics that a democratic India tilted toward the authoritarian Soviet Union, while military-ruled Pakistan was allied with a democratic United States". However, now the balance of global economic power has shifted to Asia, especially China and India. In fact, China has become a "Frankenstein monster" even dumping inexpensive goods in the USA that the latter simply cannot produce as cheaply.

Through a partnership both India and the USA can counterbalance China’s growing economic and military might. India is especially fit for this role, outscoring China in almost every respect. Major global corporations would invest in India rather than in China because "for India, it is not technology alone that is unleashing the potential of her people. Culture, values, leadership, entrepreneurship, education, innovations, social responsibility, cohesion, and communication are all critical ingredients".

Innovative qualities of the Indian business visionaries have catapulted the likes of Reliance, Wipro, Texas Instruments, Tatas, Biocom India, and Bharti Telecom to the pedestal of success. These qualities are ingrained in Indian businessmen at all levels. The book illustrates this point by giving an interesting example of illiterate dabbawaalahs of Mumbai carrying over 175,000 lunch boxes every day from a worker’s own house to his office through an innovative foolproof color-coding system based on acronyms. These dabbawaalahs furnish "a living definition of an Indian trait we call juggad, a uniquely Indian practice that can be roughly understood as a solution-oriented entrepreneurial attitude calling on any conceivable means to reach the deserved end".

Concluding that the only viable option for India is partnering with the USA, the authors are sure that the "day is coming when mass-consumption products will be conceived in the USA, designed in India, manufactured in China, sold globally, and serviced by India and the USA jointly for the global market".

Much space in the book is devoted to the conventional description of Indian history, social set-up, religion, philosophy and topography, which may be of an introductory interest for only non-Indian readers.

Otherwise, the book is written in a readable unassuming style dotted with wit and subtle insights. It presents a typical capitalist point of view with the affirmation that Marxism is dead, which is a far-fetched conclusion. How much Marxism and its revival in different forms is affecting and contributing to the current literary theories and their practical applications to the world-view is only too well known.