Bangalore International Centre, had arranged a Book Reading and discussion of his book “Implosion: India’s tryst with Reality” by Mr. John Elliott, Foreign Correspondent and Columniston 11th April, 2014 at 4.30 PM. The discussion was presided and moderated by Prof. S L Rao, Former Director- General of National Council of Applied Economic Research.
Mr. John Elliott from his experiences and perspective as a foreign correspondent in India covering politics, policy, business and other topics since the 1980s, looked at how corruption has eaten into all aspects of Indian life, questioned the decades of rule by the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, and suggested that democracy provides a smokescreen for much that is wrong.
He also explained the impact of liberalisation, traced the build-up of social unrest over corruption, women’s rights, and the exploitation of land and the poor. He also explored with a historical perspective, on the limitations of a hesitant foreign policy and looked in detail at why India’s defence forces are so depleted.
At the heart of the problem, he suggested that the ‘quick fix’ attitude known as ‘jugaad’ and the laissez faire acceptance of ‘chaltahai’ together have eaten into the social and political fabric and heavily influenced what India is, and is not, today.
Along the way, he uncovered a secret ‘M document’ written in 1990 that mapped out the 1991 reforms - and reveals how he was an unwitting spectator at a Pakistan briefing meeting for the 1991 Kargil war.
Some of the audience, were not in agreement with Mr. Elliott’s pessimism. They felt that in spite of some negative indicators, there have been some impressive developments like the emergence of leadership from amongst the dalit class, emergence of an assertive middle class and judicial endorsement of several fundamental civil rights.
Prof. S L Rao with his several years of experience as an economist, transformed the Q & A session into a lively interaction with the audience.