And then I wrote...

by Dick Schilling, Editor Emeritus

... hat a couple months ago, when I was making out a book order, for some reason I ordered a book on India, India, the Rise of an Asian Giant, by Dietmar Rothermund, and I got the Yale University issue printed in 2009.
For one thing, I have always been under the impression that the British were fairly adept in their colonization approach, which seemed confirmed after a rather lengthy visit to the Crown Colony of Hong Kong, courtesy of the Navy. The book indicates I was only half right when it came to India.
Prior to the weekend, I was about 80% through the book. As a college friend said of scholarly books, it is “written pretty close to the page,” so is a slow read.
Oddly, there were two stories in the weekend’s papers concerning India.
One reminded me that India was sort of like the Little Red Hen of childhood fable, who, failing to get any help, decided she had to do it herself. India recently put an unmanned spacecraft into the orbit of Mars. The United States, Europe and Russia had done so, but half of their efforts had failed. They apparently did not “share” information with India. But India went ahead, and made it on first try, at a “fraction of the cost” of the latest NASA launch.
Second story was that India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi had been invited to meet with the U.S. president after delivering a speech at the United Nations. In 2002, the United States had barred him from the country after his Hindu supporters killed more than a 1,000 Muslims in a province there. India was aware of plans for a Muslim “khilafat” as early as 1920!
I learned from the book that India was forced to go it alone in development of an atomic bomb, which it accomplished in the late 1990s, after the nuclear power nations warned against proliferation. But with neighboring Pakistan, a Muslim state, also a nuclear power, the U.S. may actually be grateful now.
India is a democratic state on steroids. The number and quick rise and fall of political parties is mind numbing.
There still exists sort of a caste system, but it is different from the historic definition. As in the United States, income distribution is a source of some unrest, but there is a line in the book which the United States might consider: “Middle class is a state of mind, not a state of income.” It’s attributed to Milton Friedman.
I learned that India once led Antwerp in production of diamond jewelry, but Dubai now holds that spot.
I learned that those tasty Indian cashews before roasting contain a highly caustic substance and must be handled carefully.
And, of course, I was schooled in the computer expertise of the nation’s citizens. Bribery used to be a national characteristic, but it is noted that bribes cannot easily be transmitted by computers.
In short, it seems India is destined to continue to be a major player on the world scene.
So console yourself when your next call for tech support is answered by someone with an Indian accent.