Book Review: India’s Rise as an Asian Power

My review of India’s Rise as an Asian Power appeared in Contemporary Southeast Asia, Vol. 37, No. 2 (2015). An excerpt is below, and the full text can be accessed here.

The underlying presumption of many critiques of contemporary India is that Indian policymakers are somehow unaware of the challenges facing their own country. But India’s leaders, whether politicians, bureaucrats or public intellectuals, are more aware than most that India is, in Gordon’s words, “a vast polity with enormous problems to overcome” (pp. 168–69). Gordon’s study presents a useful, and perhaps necessary, reality check to those willing to overlook or wish away many of India’s complications and contradictions. Yet it may have been a more useful exercise for him to have focused on the underlying structural causes of policy inertia and poor implementation, many of which — as Modi is finding out — may indeed prove difficult for India’s leadership to overcome. [Full text.]