I launched off my reading list for this year with What young India wants by Chetan Bhagat.
I led me to the conclusion that India, and Chetan Bhagat both have no idea of what they want.
Oh no, I am not criticising the book. It was lucid, had easy language but had none of the perspicuity of thought or the depth that other tomes, like The Argumentative Indian (Amartya Sen) or We, the People (Nani Palkhivala) possess.
I do not dislike Chetan Bhagat. Indeed I do not. His books have compelling stories that seem to resonate with the youth. Last year, I was enrolled in an introductory program to the UPSC in one of the coaching institutes in Pune. We were asked to discuss our favourite works of literature and to my horror, half the people had a Chetan Bhagat book as their favourite novel. Makes me wonder if the novel, as a genre has become so stilted, stagnant that the young people read only the literature that has the emotional depth of a rainwater puddle. These books are windows to the lives of the educated, fast-living, fast-loving middle classes in urban India. But they are in no way, promoters of 'reading habits'. I have read all Bhagat books. His writing has been steadily attaining maturity, which is a very good sign indeed, because it indirectly reflects the reading maturity of the class described above.
But all things said and done, Chetan Bhagat has no business writing non-fiction. No siree!
His reactions are spontaneous and instantaneous. Hence they lack the thoughtfulness that makes up good non-fiction.
Commentary on life in India is easy. India is a land of critics. Almost everyone in our nation has been raised to have an opinion, perhaps due to the long history of prejudice we share, and every single person is a self-proclaimed critic. What separates the true critics from the masses is the research that goes into the formation of their verdict. This is where Chetan Bhagat comes up short.
He highlights the problems in the Indian society - and as we know, there is no dearth of them! But he fails to provide conclusive, solid solutions to any of them.
But anyway, my question is that who went and made Chetan Bhagat the spokesperson for Indian youth? That is probably a no brainer, because as I said, everyone in India is a self proclaimed critic.
What young India wants can be a light afternoon read. But do not expect it to be an akashwani.