Book Review: Indian politics

Updated 10 April 2018
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Book Review: Indian politics

The remarkable rise of Narendra Modi, India’s prime minister, is examined in a review by Max Rodenbeck of two new books about Indian politics. In 2014, Modi led the Bharatiya Janata, or Indian People’s Party (BJP), to one of the most dramatic electoral upsets in India’s 70 years as a democracy.
“Despairing opponents, for their part, tend to consider Modi’s success part of an equally inexorable global wave of strongman populism: From his appeal to voter anger, to his accusations of enemies, to his televisual talent for sound bites and gestures, he much resembles Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, or Rodrigo Duterte,” Rodenbeck writes.
“With dreary regularity in Delhi as much as in London or New York, shoulders shrug and palms spread as it is explained that witless Indian voters have succumbed to some kind of wicked zeitgeist.”
However, a growing number of corruption allegations could stall the success of Modi, who was tipped as a shoo-in to win the next national elections in 2019. As “loudly touted policies have mired in Indian realities,” Modi could see himself returned to power with a reduced majority, says Rodenbeck.
“The smart money is still on Modi but recent trends suggest that he would be wise to call an early election, or he may see himself returned to power with a reduced majority, dependent on coalition allies,” he writes.


Book review: 'Sapiens': A brief history of Humankind

Updated 17 April 2018
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Book review: 'Sapiens': A brief history of Humankind

In terms of scope and ambition, Yuval Harari’s aim to offer a “Brief History of Humankind” can’t be topped. But, over 512 pages, that is exactly what the historian and academic does — and with verve and skill.
“Sapiens” tells the story of how we — humankind — transformed ourselves from insignificant apes to the most dominant species on the planet.
Harari covers a lot of ground at pace in a loosely chronological way, taking up broad themes and ideas, and resisting the temptation to bombard the reader with facts and statistics. Instead, he offers thrilling arguments and challenging theories.
The book seeks an answer to the age-old question: “Why has humankind become the most influential species on Earth?” while also revealing the problems and solutions we have created both for ourselves and the rest of nature.
“Sapiens” is as fascinating as it is provocative — one theory is that wheat is the dominant life form on the planet. Well thought-out and brilliantly written, this book will have you looking at the world through new eyes.