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Second only to China in the magnitude of its economic miracle and second to none in its potential to shape the new century, India is fast undergoing one of the most momentous transformations the world has ever seen. In his book India: A Portrait, Patrick French chronicles that epic change, telling human stories to explain India’s larger national narrative and exposing the cultural foundations of its political, economic and social complexities. Sadanand Dhume, a resident fellow at AEI, will moderate a discussion about this book. Walter Andersen, director of SAIS’s South Asia program, will provide introductory remarks.
WALTER ANDERSEN, SAIS
PATRICK FRENCH, Author of India: A Portrait
India has experienced rapid economic growth and is gaining international prominence, but to realize its full potential, the country must address number of domestic constraints, Patrick French said in a discussion of his recent book “India: A Portrait” yesterday. India’s large, young, working-age population could contribute to rapid economic growth, but securing the demographic dividend will require better education and training for the workforce. Liberalization has contributed to the creation of wealth, not poverty, French explained. India now faces the challenge of resolving the income gap by expanding reforms that provide equal economic opportunity to all. The body responsible for passing such reforms, India’s parliament, must root out nepotism and deal with the problem of hereditary politics. Motivated young people, unable to break into the world of politics dominated by political families, choose not to work in public affairs, and bureaucracy severely limits those who do enter into the political realm. But the future is far from grim: India’s vociferous political debate provides enough transparency to make reform feasible. India has been hesitant to accept a dominant role in international affairs, but French predicts that India’s energetic discourse will soon be heard in the global arena as the nation continues to rise in prominence.
-- ALEX RUED
Patrick French is the author of "Younghusband"; "Liberty or Death"; "Tibet, Tibet"; "The World Is What It Is," which won the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Hawthornden Prize; and most recently, "India: A Portrait." Mr. French, who lives in London, is the winner of the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award, the Royal Society of Literature Heinemann Prize and the Somerset Maugham Award.
Sadanand Dhume is a resident fellow at AEI. He writes about South Asian political economy, foreign policy, business and society, with a focus on India and Pakistan. He is also a South Asia columnist for the Wall Street Journal. He has worked as a foreign correspondent for the Far Eastern Economic Review in India and Indonesia and was a Bernard Schwartz Fellow at the Asia Society in Washington, DC. His political travelogue about the rise of radical Islam in Indonesia, "My Friend the Fanatic: Travels with a Radical Islamist," has been published in four countries.
Walter Andersen is administrative director of the South Asia Studies Program at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. He recently retired as chief of the US Department of State’s South Asia Division in the Office of Analysis for the Near East and South Asia and has held other key positions within the State Department, including special assistant to the ambassador at the US Embassy in New Delhi and member of the Policy Planning Staff in Washington, DC. He has taught at the University of Chicago and the College of Wooster. Mr. Andersen’s current research involves Hindu nationalism and India's assertive foreign policy in the Indian Ocean and its littoral.
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