In his most recent column for The New York Times, Ruchir Sharma writes of childhood summers spent in the mofussil town of Bijnor, Uttar Pradesh.
"Lacking parks, pools or steady electric power, Bijnor had nothing for a boy to do. So I started following India’s favorite spectator sport: politics," Sharma writes. He describes witnessing the elders sitting around the television set and hurling insults at Doordarshan's propaganda for the Congress; debates in the town square about how minority communities and those from certain castes were being "coddled".
Years later, Sharma returned to Bijnor. Much in the town had changed, but some things still remained the same.
"Returning to Bijnor was a stark reminder for me of the adage that Indians don’t cast their vote, they vote their caste. Those loyalties still hold beyond the ballot booth," Sharma concludes in his column.
Sharma is uniquely placed to comment on the state of Indian democracy: Over the past 25 years, he has travelled across the length and breadth of the country, criss-crossing each Indian state. As an esteemed global investor (Sharma is Head of Emerging Markets and Chief Global Strategist at Morgan Stanley Investment Management, a firm he has been associated with since 1996), his books — 2012's Breakout Nations: In Pursuit of the next Economic Miracles and 2016's The Rise and Fall of Nations: Forces of Change in a Post-Crisis World — have earned their bestseller status. Sharma has also made it to Foreign Policy’s 'Top-100 Global Thinkers' list and was named among Bloomberg Market’s '50 Most Influential Thinkers', in 2012 and 2015, respectively.
In his latest book, Sharma focuses on India in the run-up to the 2019 General Elections. Democracy on the Road: A 25 Year Journey through India (Penguin Randomhouse) offers an "unrivalled portrait of how India and its democracy work, drawn from Sharma's two decades on the road chasing election campaigns across every major state". "Sharma explains how the complex forces of family, caste and community, economics and development, money and corruption, Bollywood and Godmen, have conspired to elect and topple Indian leaders since Indira Gandhi," the book's description reads.
Sharma will be the featured guest at the next Firstpost Salon, a series of conversations with India's best minds and biggest names. He will be in conversation with Network 18 Group Consulting Editor Praveen Swami, discussing the state of the Indian democracy in the run-up to the 2019 general elections.
We will be covering the event live on Friday, 15 February 2019, from 6 to 7.30 pm. Do tune in for a nuanced discussion and don't forget to send us your questions for Sharma on Twitter — @firstpost — or on Facebook so we can include them in our conversation.
Firstpost Salon, which began in 2015, has seen insightful editions with guests like Shashi Tharoor Aatish Taseer, Tarek Fatah, Amish Tripathi, Binish Desai, Parag Khanna and Seema Bansal — to name just a few. From politics to education, Indian mythology and literature, these salons have led to meaningful discussions between our guests on a range of subjects.
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Updated Date: Feb 14, 2019 15:15:36 IST