Making sense of India.. and Chile

The India of my mind and the India of real life are not always the same place. Due to this, any discussion on this topic often makes me defensive. If you say something that’s good ( specifically related to its ancient history), I will argue that I have little patience to understand the richness of its past, when so many suffer in the present. If you, however, are blatantly critical of the contemporary India, then I’d remind you of the complexity of running a country this diverse. In either case, I’d argue.

So when I came across this book ‘The Argumentative Indian‘ in my brother’s bookshelf, I felt compelled to read it. I have not been able to put it down. Parts of the book are criticized for its political agenda and its focus on some historical facts at the neglect of others. But criticism aside, I am having the best time reading it. It is like finding an intelligent friend to have a conversation with on topics that have long since been on my mind. I found answers in addition to new arguments. It specifically shed light on Hinduism (and if I am one), factual clarifications, and offered an understanding of the current chaos.

Receiving clarifications on Indian history was important to me, because I no longer trust the history I learnt in school. I find it appalling that a lot of what is included in the NCERT books (Indian curriculum) is a lie. e.g. I had to wait until I was 22 on a dinner with a Chinese friend, to learn that India did not win the war against China in 1962. My school books taught me otherwise..shameful.

Before I get further riled up about the Indian education system….. I just wanted to say that discovering an author this good is like discovering a pot of gold. 🙂 I would like to recommend ‘The Argumentative Indian’ by Amartya Sen to anyone who wants a better understanding of what makes up the idea of India.

He has written another book called “Identity and Violence” that I cannot wait to read next.

Special mention:

My Invented Country by Isabel Allende

I was constantly reminded of this really fabulous book by Isabel Allende (like ALL her books) while reading Amartya Sen. She completely captured her invented Chile – with beautiful stories, memories and histories. Reading her book gave me a sense of legitimacy for also having invented a country in my head.


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