Superfast Primetime Ultimate Nation provides a broad consideration of India’s present and future, judged against the prediction that India will outstrip China in population by around 2022 and in the process become ‘Number One’ nation in the world. Adam Roberts examines what India has to do to ensure that this predominance can be consolidated and exploited, and what this might mean for the region.
Five years in India as The Economist’s South Asia bureau chief gave Roberts a front-row seat for observing the country’s politics and granted him a good deal of time on the ground in its hot spots. As a result, economic insights and first-hand information are in plentiful supply throughout the book, which is divided into four sections: ‘Superfast’ deals with the economy, ‘Primetime’ with politics, ‘Ultimate’ with foreign relations and ‘Nation’ with internal affairs and the ‘idea of India’. This is not an entirely successful schema, as these themes all interact constantly and it is not easy to draw distinctions that helpfully separate economic growth from political developments, or either of these from social matters, analysis of which takes up the last section.
Recent history is thoroughly covered. Roberts expresses approval for the economic liberalisation pursued by governments since 1991 and pours scorn on the isolationist policies that preceded it. The debate about wealth generation versus wealth redistribution is set out and there are warnings about India’s rising welfare bill. Above