At a time when there has been a dramatic surge of interest in India, here comes a coffee table book that captures the country in all its colourful glory, chronicling its culture, heritage, plurality, ethos and its multi-dimensional progress.
Compiled by diplomat Amit Dasgupta, India For a Billion Reasons (Wisdom Tree), is driven by the growing interest in India globally, driven primarily by the prediction that by 2040 it would become the third largest economy after the US and China.
"While across the globe major economies struggled with low growth rates and continued predictions of sluggish economic performance, the Indian economy defied all expectations and consistently clocked eight percent growth with credible forecasts that a 10 percent growth rate was all within reach," says Dasgupta.
"Indian companies moved on to make Western acquisition and bit by bit, the image of India underwent a positive change."
He attributes the "newfound" interest in India "to Thomas Friedman's bestselling book The World is Flat and his popular television series, To Catch a Predator.
Dasgupta says his book "is meant for those who do not believe in tailor-made coffee table books on India".
The book is a compilation of essays interspersed with lavish amd evocative photographs contributed by writers like Atri Bhattacharya, Anita Ratnam, Anjum Katyal, Meenakshi Shedde, Harpal Singh Bedi, Rohan Mukherjee, Bibek Debroy, Tarun Basu, L.K. Sharma and several others on socio-cultural aspects of India like "Indian identity", hospitality, dances of India, music, art, craft, cinema, literature, food, sports, politics, economy, press and the trasition from tradition to modernity.
A small section on opinion snippets by celebrities on "what India means to me" brings to the fore the spirit of proud nationalism that forms the moral mosaic of this culturally diverse land.
For writer Shobhaa De, the author of Superstar India, "To be an Indian is to be one".
She says in the book, "There is no distance. The idea of Indianness is strangely poignant... it conjures up feelings that are frequently contradictory. Most of us 'feel' Indian... even if our outward lives send another image".
Author-commentator and MP Shashi Tharoor describes India as "colours of paradise".
"When I think of India, I think of steaming breakfast idlis, pungent coconut chutneys, and lissom women in saris," he says in the book.