Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Elephant, the Tiger, & the Cell Phone

For those who are new to Shashi Tharoor's non-fiction work this might be a good start. It is a collection of essays covering a wide range of subjects from politics, ailing sports except for cricket, the rising economy and pluralistic Indian society. It is a good collection of facts, analysis, sprinkled with sometimes subtle but otherwise straight humor. Dr. Tharoor talks about Indianness in the emerging world of globalization. He touches on oddities such as India being at the forefront in adopting technologies like cell phone but still believing strongly in theories of numerology/astrology may be even while choosing a cell number. This is a serious piece of work one might want to read to get in touch with issues, conflicts, advantages and sometimes plain facts about India in the past 10 years.

Here is Shashi Tharoor on his book..


Harini Sridharan said...

Nice :). As you said, that guy speaks very well!

Harini Sridharan said...

In the title, I suppose elephant refers to Lord Ganesha, alluding to the religious beliefs steeped in Indians. The cell phone reference is obviously our technological progress. But what does the tiger refer to?

sandeep said...

He has a metaphor in one of his essays where he compares India which was slow sluggish elephant a few years ago and how it has transformed itself to be an agile tiger now and moving fast.

scritic said...

Actually, there's a very beautiful line from Gurcharan Das's book India Unbound (somewhere on the last page), that I wrote down just because I thought it made a lot of sense:

The Economist has been trying, with some frustration, to paint stripes on India since 1991. It doesn't realize that India will never be a tiger. It is an elephant that has begun to lumber and move ahead. It will never have the speed, but it will always have stamina. A Buddhist text says, "The elephant is the wisest of all animals/thee only one who remembers his former lives/and he remains motionless for long periods of time/meditating thereon." The inversion between capitalism and democracy suggests that India might have a more stable, peaceful, and negotiated transition into the future than, say, China. It will also avoid some of the harmful side effects of an unprepared capitalist society, such as Russia. Although slower, India is more likely to preserve its way of life and its civilization of diversity, tolerance, and spirituality against the onslaught of the global culture. If it does, then it is perhaps a wise elephant.

A little too rhetorical and hopeful, perhaps but I really like dthe "wise elephant" metaphor.

Harini Sridharan said...

Nice... yes, irrespective of whether it is really the case, it has been put well!