India Rising by Oliver Balch

india-risingIndia. This vast nation is changing at a rapid pace as the country develops into one of the world’s largest superpowers, and with it comes the human stories; migration, adaptation and cultural changes are apparent in all of India’s major cities, and in some cases the poverty divide is becoming more and more apparent.

India Rising by Oliver Balch highlights the human tales driving India’s global economy; Balch travels the country meeting people affected by the change and how they are adapting to it. I picked this book as I really enjoyed Balch’s previous novel, Viva South America!, and the subject matter of India Rising was something I was very interested in learning more about.

Balch talks to a range of people on both sides of the social divide. The book is divided into three sections, which chart the rise of enterprise, the new found aspirations of India’s people, and how change is altering traditional beliefs. The author talks to people who have come from the slums and now own their own businesses, and discusses how women are now becoming part of the workforce where traditionally they would have looked after the home. One story is about the life of a young man who has spent all his savings travelling to New Delhi to follow his dream of becoming an actor, and lives in a squat in a derelict apartment block because he can’t afford anything else. It soon becomes apparent that his chances of being a successful actor are small, as it is only those with money that make it, but it highlights the aspirations now held by Indians. The book also mentions India’s emerging middle class; more and more young people are now attending university with the ambition of working for the technology industry, both within India and abroad.

I found this book a very engaging read, as Balch really gets to know the people he talks to and creates strong imagery around the stories, so the reader really feels involved in their lives. There is a good range of topics; the book covers sport, technology, politics, business and education amongst others. I also liked the fact that the story has a postscript, updating the reader about what happened to each person after Balch left India.  I found it interesting to read about this cross section of society, and it really does portray how India is changing and developing into the economic superpower known worldwide.

To read more about Viva South America! click here.

India Rising: Tales From a Changing Nation, Faber and Faber Ltd, 2012.

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