Thursday 15 February 2007

Back in the UK

Well, I've made it, after an uneventful journey back (not helped by sitting behind someone who managed to extend his chair back into my lap), only hiccups being that poor Deb (my sister) managed to visit terminals 2,3 and 4 before finding me,and that I have an absolutely streaming cold (thanks, Ooty).

Before I close down, let me recommend two books I am reading on India. One is "In spite of the gods : the strange rise of modern India" by Edward Luce, and the other is "The algebra of infinite justice", by Arundhati Roy. The first is written with critical affection by an English journalist (married to an Indian)and the second with critical passion by the Keralan author of "The god of small things". I'm not yet ready to give you a clear account of the two books, but I am interested to see that both are highly critical of the traditional placing of the village at the centre of Indian culture and identity. They say the village is at the centre of the problems (as did that young Intel employee I met in Bangalore). Over two thirds of Indians live in rural India, or rather, fail to make a living in the country. Luce argues that there needs to be a shift to industrialisation and urbanisation: that the agriculture is not viable unless plots are larger and modernised methods adopted. Roy is more angry: she sees the wretched villagers as the victims of cynical exploitation: by the state, businesses and the varoious international players, not least the World Bank.

These two books, plus the Amartya Sen, which I left in France with Chris, should help me develop a more critical sense, perhaps a less romantic view of what I have seen.

None of this will change my intense enjoyment of travel in India and my respect and liking of Indian people. We have a lot to learn from them (though not perhaps their driving habits...).

Goodbye readers and thank you for your messages of appreciation. Now to sift my way through the photos.


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