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The Elephant, the Tiger, and the Cell Phone: Reflections on India, the Emerging 21st-Century Power

3.54  ·  Rating Details ·  909 Ratings  ·  61 Reviews
Interest in India has never been greater. Here Shashi Tharoor, one of the subcontinent's most respected writers and diplomats, offers precious insights into this complex, multifaceted land, which despite its dazzling diversity of languages, customs, and cultures remains more than 60 years after its founding the world's largest democracy. He describes the vast changes that ...more
Hardcover, 512 pages
Published September 19th 2007 by Arcade Publishing (first published January 1st 2007)
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Apr 29, 2012 Kristin rated it really liked it
Last year, I thoroughly enjoyed reading The God of Small Things (Arundhati Roy) and Midnight's Children (Salman Rushdie). Although these are technically fictional works, there are always so many historical events and elements intertwined in the pages of Indian literature. Wanting to learn more about Indian political history and the 1947 partition, I decided to read a non-fiction account, and Tharoor's book was perfect.

The book has six sections (Ideas of Indianness, India at Work and at Play, Ind
Sep 05, 2010 Kay rated it it was ok
Shelves: india, nonfiction
Variations on a Theme of "Three Cheers for India!"

Shashi Tharoor's book reads like a long and often repetitive series of newspaper columns – which, in fact, is precisely what it is. The copyright page notes that "Earlier versions of the essays in this book have appeared, in somewhat different forms, in the author’s columns in the Hindu, the India Express, the Times of India, and in the following publications: the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the International Hera
Jul 29, 2008 ExistenGuy rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: People Interested in India
Shelves: non-fiction
This book by Shashi Tharoor is not an exposition or analysis of India in the 21st century. Nor is it a book detailing India's long and varied history. What it is, however, is a collection of his articles and essays about India and what its rising global position means for the world. He starts the book by detailing the concept of "Indianness" and then delves into its culture, history, achievements and problems, all in the context of the 21st century. He writes eloquently about a variety of topics ...more
Oct 03, 2012 Jana rated it it was ok
What one of the other reviewers said was spot on; the author writes, and his prose reads--as though he really likes to hear his own voice. Granted, in a series of editorials where opining is what the author is there to do, some talking for talking's sake may be unavoidable as the author ruminates on what being Indian means to him. Sometimes he mixes in statistics and endeavors to give his favorite numbers context with a little history lesson (which I personally found the best aspect of the book, ...more
Emma  Kaufmann
Apr 29, 2008 Emma Kaufmann rated it it was ok
Since I recently visited India I wanted a good guide giving a history of Indian culture. I know that English is taught in a very old fashioned way in India but I'm afraid I couldn't get through the terribly long winded sentences of this book. Good content but presented like someone suffering from verbal diarrhoea:
Nehru was a moody, idealist intellectual who felt an almost mystical empathy with the toiling peasant masses; an aristocrat, accustomed to privilege, who had passionate socialist convic
Mar 07, 2013 Abijita rated it really liked it
This is very insightful, witty and sensible book. I felt the opinions of the author was not clouded by his political party association and all topics were very unbiased. It covers varieties of topic and so one never feels dull or bored. I immensely enjoyed reading it.
Nithesh Satish
Feb 18, 2016 Nithesh Satish rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
Probably one of the best books on India in 21st century with an overdose of secularism and Mallu chauvinism . Tharoor comes out as a textbook idealist and a liberal (which I find unreasonable when I look at the ground realities)
Jul 29, 2008 Karen rated it it was ok
Practically unreadable dense in some parts and repetitive in others, but has interesting insight into Indian culture, history, people, and politics
Pratik Doshi
The Elephant, the Tiger, and the Cellphone: Reflections on India – The Emerging 21st-Century Power is a collection of 69 essays authored by Shashi Tharoor, which have previously appeared in his own columns in The Hindu, The Indian Express & the Times of India, & in many other publications which include the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the International Herald Tribune, India Today Plus, Time & Global Asia.

The book consists of 6 sections:

1. The Transforma
Feb 11, 2017 Yashwanth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Keeping the impeccable language that Mr. Tharoor is famous for aside, every essay strikes a chord in the indian reader. His stint in diplomacy has made him see things from lens that a common man cannot. He very neatly connects and summarizes through the web of time and geography various facets of India. Overall this might just be the best book I had the fortune of reading, that celebrates the pluralism of my country.
Jan 13, 2014 Rajit rated it it was ok
This book is only worth a read if you know little about India and are fine with a very biased view of the country.

More than anything I felt this book was a way for Mr. Tharoor to comment on the happenings of India and add his own personal view to absolutely everything. It certainly was not very objective. You'll also find a very lopsided amount of information on certain Indian States such as Kerala, which is where Mr. Tharoor is from. Mr. Tharoor also repeats the same facts throughout the book t
Jan 04, 2008 Zeenat rated it really liked it
This is an excellent collection of essays and columns about the changing Indian sub-continent, and what the future holds for the largest democracy in the world. [I was torn between 4 and 5 stars only because I don't COMPLETELY agree with him on some points. But thats my opinion]

Tharoor's essays talk about India's flags of pride - the software hubs, the call centers, the coveted IITs and IIT-ians, largest number of millionaires, etc. But he also takes a critical look at issues that most have brus
Meh. At best two and a half stars. Tharoor writes well and often amusingly, but this book is just a compilation of several dozen newspaper articles. I picked it off the shelf of the library to round out my History Book Club India reading challenge with something a bit more contemporary. Tharoor's book sort of did the job, since most of the chapters seem to have been written between about 2000-2007. It was fun to dip into now and then and Tharoor's cheery India boosterism and charming little fami ...more
Yoosaf Abdulla
Jun 06, 2016 Yoosaf Abdulla rated it liked it
A very good insightful read of contemporary India while keeping the glorious(and inglorious too) past in retrospective. The book traverses us through the upcoming challenges to have India win the race with China.

The book has also been successful in relating thoughts to actions of a common Indian. There are also numerous instances of comparisons which makes us think how far we have to tread to reach an envied economic stance. However this does not leave us with desperation that we are far but sh

Quite an eye opening read. The parts that stayed with me were:
-reading about the emergency period of the 1970's under Indira Gandhi and
-understanding the intricacies of the role Education(or the lack thereof) plays, in reflecting the parties in power; who in the absence of literacy, use sectarian ideologies to divide people instead of uniting and representing the country as a whole.

The negative: The off putting thing about this book was the repetition of certain phrases. The book is basical
Mar 12, 2008 Srikanth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics, history
Amazing. Tharoor is viewed as "Pro-Indian" but that doesn't necessarily make this a biased view. By acknowledging India's shortcomings (especially, in religious tolerance, birth control, the caste system, and women's rights), he is able to present options and solutions for India's growing future. Clearly, he was a worthy choice for the UN Secretary General. I did find the repeated references annoying at times; he continuously references the game of cricket to draw similarities with it and India' ...more
Aug 29, 2013 Vishwas rated it liked it
The Elephant, the Tiger, and the Cellphone is a good read. Mr.Tharoor very colourfully narrates his Indian connection and paints India a very healthy and powerful picture. This book must be read keeping in mind it's a collection of Taroor's work previously published, making some parts repetitive, makes the forgiving easy. The idea of India is very generously portrayed as a regional power, which the author evidences with a handful of Indians making it big beyond the borders. The book artfully mak ...more
May 14, 2016 Cristian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: traveling
I started reading this book 2 months ago in Chile. Now I just finished it, while living in India.
This is my 2nd time here and Ive always been puzzled by this huge piece of land.
I read this book after reading so many other stories about India and this one stands among the bests. Tharoor is clear, funny, serious but most importantly hes a great storyteller.
At some point, I just decided to slow down with the book. I would read a couple of chapters and go to Google to research a bit more. Im still f
Vivek Agarwal
Mar 04, 2016 Vivek Agarwal rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author has covered almost every aspect of India as we know it from not just a historical perspective

But also a current perspective
The book presents a holistic perspective and opinion and view on the culture of India, the politics, the people, the poverty, the democratic process, the historical legacies of our colonial past, and many other thoughts which allowed me to think deeper

Good book not outstanding
Subject matter is mostly known to me
So interesting read

I browsed some chapters while
Aug 06, 2008 Charanya rated it it was ok
Poignant illustrations and suggestions abound as Shashi Tharoor writes about India and his idea of Indianness. A collection of his essays, the book shows early signs of being repetitive and ratifies the feeling!

There are some ideas that do pique the curiosity as one reads and sparks off wonderful debates in one's head about religion, prosperity, the Indian economy, the glorious and pressing past but ultimately its a book of diplomacy and thats about it!

The portion where he spews praise for Ash
Rahool Gadkari
Shashi Tharoor does a decent job with this book, touching upon various aspects of Indian life and culture. If you've read his books before, this one follows in similar vein to many others (with a lot of text copy pasted from his previous work). It's an admirable effort, but having followed his writing in the past, I failed to gain any fresh perspective on the issues he touched upon and consequentially this made for a rather dull read.
Nov 19, 2016 Manas rated it liked it
Shashi Tharoor is no doubt an excellent writer; however most of the content seemed to be straight out of the Congress party manifesto.
This is particularly true for the sections on secularism and hagiographies of Gandhi and Nehru. There is always more than one side to the story. The book has many witty anecdotes but some of them are repeated multiple times. Tighter editing would have helped.
Rajesh Kurup
Feb 17, 2010 Rajesh Kurup rated it really liked it
The best parts were the sections about Indianness and the transformation of India. In the first section on the idea of Indianness he makes a strong case for a secular India in the face of pressure from the Hindu right. Tharorr's position at the UN gives him a great insight on how India is viewed from the outside. Overall, a good, quick read from a really good author - but not his best.
Aug 20, 2012 Vikram rated it it was ok
This book is simply a collection of short op ed pieces which do not delve into any explored topic with serious research or thought. Definitely not an important book covering modern India but an entertaining and humorous read at times. Reading India After Gandhi and In Spite of the Gods is time better spent.
I love Saashi Tharoor. I enjoyed his book about Bollywood, "Showbusiness." Reading that book made we want to read this one. I really got a good sense of India, it's past, it's present and future. Mr. Tharoor covers everything from Cricket to Mahatma Ghandhi. It reads like a series of magazine articles. His passion for India is palpable.
Basem Omar
Mar 22, 2014 Basem Omar rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: كتب
اول حاجة حابب اشكر مؤسسة مؤسسة محمد بن راشد آل مكتوم هي اللي مترجمة الكتاب, و ده تاني كتاب اقراه من ترجمة نفس المؤسسة
الكتاب اعطي صورة عامة عن الهند, و التطور اللي طرأ علي البلاد منذ رحيل الإحتلال, حتي الوقت الحديث
الكتاب عبارة عن 68 فصل, مش مترابطين, بس شملوا كل حاجة كنت عايزه اعرفها عن الهند ما عدا الجزء الخاص بالتاريخ القديم
Oct 16, 2008 Scott rated it liked it
A collection of his essays and newspaper pieces. Some obviously good insight, but a bit of a self promoter. Seemed like more of a need to fulfill a book contract obligation. But if you are interested in learning about the nuances of India from a person who has lived there but spent much of his adult life viewing it from a neutral standpoint in NYC as a member of the UN, read it.
Anshul Gupta
Sep 18, 2014 Anshul Gupta rated it it was ok
I started reading the book because of the personality of Shashi tharoor.
The first essay was good where he compare the elephant, tiger and mentioned dragon. It was written in Orwellian style.

However after reading several chapters, there is recurrent theme in which he prophesied capitalism for every ill in Indian society.
Abira Sarkar
Apr 04, 2016 Abira Sarkar rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shashi Tharoor's books are meant to be possessed... I was at first reluctant to read it as I thought the political take-on view would be Biased... But oh Boy... True purpose of Indian-ness & Hinduism has been satisfactorily narrated by the Gentleman
Nov 12, 2009 Jrohde rated it really liked it
a nice set of insightful brief pieces about modern India from a very good writer - also under Sec Gen of the UN - should have been the next Sec Gen - most are really good pieces - nice book to keep for a short read.
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Shashi Tharoor is a member of the Indian Parliament from the Thiruvananthapuram constituency in Kerala. He previously served as the United Nations Under-Secretary General for Communications and Public Information and as the Indian Minister of State for External Affairs.

He is also a prolific author, columnist, journalist and a human rights advocate.

He has served on the Board of Overseers of the Fle
More about Shashi Tharoor...

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