Days of our Lives!

October 20, 2012

Book Review: What Young India Wants – Chetan Bhagat

Filed under: Books — Santhosh @ 8:48 PM
Book: What Young India Wants
Author: Chetan Bhagar
Genre: Non-Fiction, Anthology, Social Commentary
Chetan Bhagat’s novels would quite obviously ensure nobody in their right mind would expect literary excellence in his writing. His column in TOI is, generally as a rule, tailored to increase his stated fan base / target group of semi-urban teens and early tweens. However, I’ve liked him in the couple of his early interviews that I’ve watched where he comes forth in a clear and lucid manner, without a hint of apology, embarrassment or sarcasm, on why he writes the way he writes. It’s pure business, and if there are benefits of first-time readers and worldly awareness, then all the better. However, over the last few years, he has slowly picked up steam as the voice of young India, and to satisfy my curiosity on where he now stood as a thinker and writer for what young India wants, I picked up the book.

The book comes across as a collection of slightly better-edited versions of his TOI articles, which is saying that it’s one long rehashed rant. It’s hard to believe, considering the naivete and simple-mindedness that comes across in most of the pieces, that he has really studied economics and finance in his IIM A days, has worked at mid-level managerial and leadership positions in the corporate world, and has been travelling around as a youth icon for the last few years.

Even taking at face value the stated aim of the book to increase the awareness and broaden the outlook of his target group of semi-urban teens and early tweens, which is unquestionably laudable, the book works and fails on its (over)simplicity. While explaining the issues in simple terms would help his reader understand the basic issues, the book should have aspired just to be the base on which the reader could slowly start to grasp and comprehend the complexity of the issues at the microeconomic and macroeconomic levels and as the trigger for further discussion and learning on the same. Similarly, the book should have worked upon the fact that there are no easy solutions and charted out some of the ways, again from the ground level to the top, in which the issues can be tackled. Instead, the 3 page essays start and stop at the basic level, providing a very simplistic, black and white case analysis in the style of the angry young man movies of old.

And hey, don’t blame me for expecting more from a book, Chetan Bhagat’s as it may be, that is titled What Young India Wants (and is queerly targeted at the same Young India) and purportedly attempts to answer questions such as “Why do our students regularly commit suicide?” (grammar, somebody?) and “Why is there so much corruption in India?”

My Rating: 2/5

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