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Becoming Indian: The Unfinished Revolution Of Culture And Identity
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Becoming Indian: The Unfinished Revolution Of Culture And Identity

3.98  ·  Rating Details ·  126 Ratings  ·  22 Reviews
In this work Pavan Varma looks at the consequence of empire on the Indian psyche. Drawing upon modern Indian history, contemporary events and personal experience, he examines how and why the legacies of colonialism persist in our everyday life, affecting our language, politics, creative expression and self-image.
Hardcover, 275 pages
Published 2010 by Penguin Group USA, Inc
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Aug 27, 2016 Prashanth rated it really liked it
If Mr. Varma's earlier work, "Being Indian" was descriptive of the status quo (how Indians are and how, possibly, they came to be this way), "Becoming Indian" is profoundly prescriptive. The author expresses his heartfelt anguish at the withering of the vibrant Indian cultural ethos due to colonization by the British. Under the assault of Macaulayism, the author asserts, the Indian elite's acceptance of the supremacy of western culture, language and philosophy meant that India's subjugation by t ...more
Anil Swarup
Sep 08, 2013 Anil Swarup rated it it was amazing
Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. A must read for all Indians.............perhaps should be a part of curriculum in all the schools. This book is a notch above "Being Indian" and "The Great Indian Middle Class" (both outstanding books) by the same author. It is evident that the author is pouring his heart out. And how well he does it. One can relate to almost everything that has been written. The book is "riddled" with gems. It raises some questions as well. While commenting on the 1997 Commonwea ...more
Jul 14, 2012 Sriramagopalan rated it liked it
Provocative. Extreme/over enthusiastic at points.
Elevate Difference
Jun 03, 2010 Elevate Difference rated it it was amazing
Pavan K. Varma’s most recent book, Becoming Indian, argues that cultural freedom has eluded formerly colonized nations, specifically India. He sees a need for a cultural revolution in India. Although it reads at times like an extended opinion piece, Varma makes convincing arguments highlighting the importance of reclaiming language, architecture, and art in a way that empowers indigenous knowledge rather than oppressing it. He examines concepts and examples related to language, architecture, and ...more
Pushpam Singh
Aug 31, 2010 Pushpam Singh rated it it was amazing
When you come across something which speaks the same language as you think it leaves you speechless and you admire it. Same goes for this book written by Pavan Varma.
It is undoubtedly the best non-fiction book i have come across till date. It is a mirror in which we can see ourselves and we must try to re-organize ourselves after seeing ourselves in that mirror. It talks a lot and lot. It starts from the time Lord Macaulay to the time Chandigarh was designed by a non indian after independence.
Dec 03, 2010 Akhil rated it liked it
Well written, though at time quite long winding and excessively indignant about British slights on Indian culture, architecture and literature. What defeats the purpose of the book is the author's recommendation that all children in India must be compulsorily taught Hindi, even those children whose primary language is not Hindi. Substituting one kind of cultural imperialism for another is hardly a solution to identity issues and regional issues in India. To summarise, Pavan Verma makes a very go ...more
Feb 04, 2011 Mukund rated it liked it
the book turned out to be quite dfferent from what i had thought when i picked it up. its more about indian immigrants in UK (and indian 'elites') than about indians in india. i had hoped it to be focused on what it means to be indian in india and how we hold almost everything western on a pedestal without giving it a second thought.
Aug 17, 2014 Anita rated it liked it
This focuses on how a colonized people (Indians) create their identity as they decolonize. I'm very interested in the subject, but I didn't agree with the prescription (and I think his companion volume Being Indian is actually much more nuanced and insightful though I gave them the same number of stars based largely on my sense of how viable the project itself is). I think my dad's penciled interlineations raising questions and disagreeing may have influenced me. I wonder if there is a book that ...more
Vishal V
Jul 18, 2014 Vishal V rated it it was amazing
The book delves deep into both our psyche and our history, hunting for the answers that I asked in the post Urban India: The English Republic... or Macaulay's Children. It starts from colonial rule, and the introduction of English education. It traces how jobs became dependent on knowledge of English; how cultural imperialism imposed its ugly head on our ancient land, and the attendant inferiority complex that became associated with being "Indian". Hence the apt title of the book: Becoming Indi ...more
Kevin Tharayil
Sep 17, 2012 Kevin Tharayil rated it liked it
Shelves: library
Inscribed on the secretariat at North Block are the lines: "A Liberty will not descend to a people, a people must raise themselves to liberty. It is a blessing which must be earned before it can be enjoyed". Niall Ferguson, the Harvard historian calls these lines 'the most condescending in the entire history of the Empire'. This book written by the erudite Ambassador to Bhutan is based on the premise that culture and identity of India needs to be reclaimed as a matter of national pride, unity an ...more
Aug 28, 2010 Cgopinath rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The book is a deep examination of culture and identity. Verma's focus in on the effects of colonization on the psyche of a people, the class structures it creates, and how they unknowingly get perpetuated even years after the end of colonization. He argues that British policies in various areas served to undermine the local religion, knowledge system, language, belief structures, etc. and then replaced it with what the colonizer wanted. (Not very different from how a foreign power first demonize ...more
Aruna Kumar Gadepalli
One interesting nonfiction on culture and identity I read so far. Easy and quick read, as this book's cover which quotes the Telegraph stating the book for "every young man and woman of the country should read". I recommend this book for those who are interested on culture and identity particularly on India and the rest of those who are in the midst of globalization and its effect on their identity. The reasons I liked this book: clearly mentions on the aspects of colonialism particularly the ca ...more
Ankit Rana
Feb 06, 2014 Ankit Rana rated it really liked it
"Copies, however good, cannot be as valuable as original."

The book has definitely added dimensions to my thinking regarding identities, culture, homogeneity and diversity in the society. It has provoked me to ask myself some difficult questions and brought some things into focus which were lost in the background.

It also makes me question whether we as a country are adopting a better approach to resolve cultural differences among diverse communities than the western countries which are trying to
Beloo Mehra
Oct 18, 2012 Beloo Mehra rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
While the whole book is an interesting and informative read, I found the chapters titled "Colonial Amnesia: A Tale of Two Cities", "Creativity and Distortion" and "Within the Global Village: Asymmetry and Co-option" to be most insightful.
Jay Nair
Mar 08, 2014 Jay Nair rated it it was amazing
Awesome book; must read for every Indian. The author has a gift with words and he mesmerizes the reader with his style. The content and the context are as interesting.

The depth of research is amazing and one cannot but be affected by the book. Highly recommended to all Indians.:)
Deepankar Rawat
Aug 18, 2012 Deepankar Rawat rated it really liked it
A very thought provoking insight to what we really are and we, as Indians, making of us. Imitating west is not going to help us!!!
Very new information too... Especially about Max Muller, Raja Ram Mohan Roy, about Hindi as a language, any many other things too...
Jul 13, 2015 Neil rated it liked it
This is one of the best piece of work on India for the beginners. Who want to know India in one book should read this book. And also those who are starting to know. I must say this book has changed my perception about India. Very big thank you to the writer.
Ajinkya Kelkar
Jul 19, 2012 Ajinkya Kelkar rated it it was amazing
An eye opener from a former Indian Foreign Services officer on how, we as Indians are losing our identity as Indians.
Oct 14, 2013 Chitra rated it did not like it
Shelves: did-not-finish
Just don't agree with his PoV, so much so that I couldn't get myself to even finish the book. Overall, a very conservative view point - not my thing.
Vikas Cshetry
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Dec 10, 2012
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Oct 15, 2015
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Oct 13, 2012
Arpit rated it it was ok
Jul 09, 2014
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