What Young India Wants
by Chetan Bhagat
review by Riccardo Paterni
After my recent intense visit in India I have begun to understand a little bit more the past, present and possible future of this 'Incredible India' subcontinent. My curiosity about India has become stronger and observing directly the many contrasts and idiosyncrasies that I thought I spotted is making me realize how little I know about India and how much more I need and I want to learn about it. During one of the last days of my visit I noticed the latest book by popular fiction writer Cheatan Bhagat displayed in a bookstore window (the book just came out in the Indian market) and I was right away intrigued by the book title: What Young India Wants.
To specify, I had never read of the Bhagat novels and I was not familiar with his writing style and much less with his story. I knew he was a popular writer and Brother had told me that he often articulates in writing and debates his strong opinions for a progressive and modern India. Well, most of these writings are collected in this book together with a very interesting and necessary introduction from Bhagat regarding his personal story, how it developed and what lead him to write it those essays in the first place.
Well, certainly Bhagat is a good writer: the reading flows in a straightforward and involving way that at times makes you laugh because of the way Indian contrast and idiosyncrasies are presented. No doubt he clarifies in many ways what to him means Young and what to him means Old India. To summarize in a very raw way: Young means progressive and moving in a direction that discovers and engages the full potential of individual and of the Nation; Old means stale, stuck in its ways and not only resistant to change but actually chocking even the hopes that spring from the way things are and are managed.
I like Bhagat progressive humanistic approach to things, his views are fresh and inspirational also well beyond the Indian borders.
At the same time I came to reflect upon something that I cannot answer for myself yet: India certainly needs to cultivate and develop its Young side but in doing so is it really necessary to practically trash the Old as Bhagat (to my understanding) appears to indicate? Quite often his observations are evidently inspired by the 'ways of the West' and even if himself states that many things of 'the West' cannot be taken as a model.
Well, doesn't India represent one of the bedrocks of civilization? Doesn't its history, traditions and its globally perceived sense of unique spirituality, count for something? Does all that need to be washed away or can it be a unique source of power and inspiration for the ways of progress of Young India?
I don't know much about 'incredible India' to answer to this question, yet.
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