Rogue Elephant: Harnessing the Power of India’s Unruly Democracy

Simon Denyer. Bloomsbury, $30 (448p) ISBN 978-1-62040-608-3
In this revealing panorama of Indian politics, Denyer, former Washington Post India bureau chief and current China bureau chief, presents a wide-ranging indictment of the country’s deep-seated problems: a corrupt, unaccountable, often criminal political class (being charged with violent felonies is no bar to Parliament); a government bent on extracting bribes rather than building infrastructure; a culture of lawlessness that turns a blind eye to rape and child-trafficking; brutal counterinsurgencies; rigid economic policies that stifle growth; terrible schools that produce unemployable graduates; vicious religious strife; and a callous indifference to the misery of the poor. Denyer explores these issues through well-told stories of activists, officials, crusading lawyers, and grandstanding television journalists who are fighting to expose and correct abuses, sometimes at considerable peril. (He includes more jaundiced profiles of political leaders, portraying Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as the well-intentioned but hapless puppet of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty.) The pervasive misrule that Denyer highlights is outrageous, but he balances it with hopeful signs that India’s democracy can respond to popular pressure. Avoiding clichéd notions of India as either South Asian super-tiger or eternal basketcase, Denyer’s sharp-eyed reportage and analysis convey both the size of India’s problems and the strength of efforts to remedy them. Agent: Patrick Walsh, Conville & Walsh Literary Agency (U.K.) (June)
Reviewed on: 03/17/2014
Release date: 06/24/2014
Paperback - 448 pages - 978-1-62040-610-6
Hardcover - 384 pages - 978-1-4088-4976-7
Open Ebook - 448 pages - 978-1-4088-4978-1
Paperback - 480 pages - 978-1-4088-4979-8
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