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A Handbook on Contemporary India

India since 1950: Society, Politics, Economy and Culture edited by Christophe Jaffrelot (New Delhi: Yatra Books), 2012; pp xix+914, Rs 995.

With a total of 37 chapters (apart from the editor’s introduction and conclusion) and an equal number of contributors, this is a massive volume of more than 900 pages. It is an updated English translation of the book first published in French in 2006. The contributors are all French scholars who work on India and, in a sense, the book presents the contemporary French perspectives on Indian society.

The collection was perhaps meant for a French audience, as an introduction to the different aspects and dimensions of contemporary India as it has evolved over the last 60 years. However, it is more than a primer for beginners. Almost all the chapters are written in the style of scholarly social science research papers. The range of subjects covered in the book is rather extensive, from the processes of social, political and economic change to the history and social organisation of India’s armed forces and the dyna­mics of India’s contemporary theatre and music.

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