Sociologist Dipankar Gupta’s latest book

The recent book ‘The Caged Phoenix: Can India Fly?’ by sociologist Dipankar Gupta is proving to be as controversial as the author himself. I have reviewed the book in ‘Biblio: A review of books’ magazine (July-Aug. 2009 edition). Since the online review is not freely accessible (it costs 30 rupees per article), here is a very brief summary of the pastiche of themes (not my views on it) that Gupta deals with. Each of these is provocative enough for several posts. 1. Globalisation in India is not a high-tech revolution but low-tech production based on cheap labour. 2. Romanticising the Indian village is absurd. The rural economy has collapsed; the village is a shadow of its former self, and most villagers think only of migrating to the cities. 3. There is no substitute to the role of the State when it comes to modernising India. NGOs who believe so are only trying to make themselves more relevant. 4.. India is not an exotic country. Cultural explanations of Indian problems detract from more mundane solutions. 6. Caste in India is based more on horizontal tensions between competing groups, rather than a ritualistic hierarchy based on purity/pollution.

Written by
Vinay Sitapati
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  • Regarding collapse of village economy, it is absolutely true in case of Uttarakhand's hilly villages. People are desperate to move out. Even the school teachers who had spend financially secured life there also shift to Dehradun or Haldwani after their retirement.

    Regarding new realities of caste system, interesting patterns are emerging in Government offices. For resolving issues related to seniority or promotion affecting a larger group, employees of upper caste are glad, rather cooperative, in taking help of their colleagues of lower caste. B'coz now they can approach National Commission of SC/ST for redressing their grievances.