Veteran ST journalist traces India's journey to Modi in new book

ST associate editor Ravi Velloor has spent 36 years in journalism, about half of them in India, and met many of the key decision-makers of the time.
ST associate editor Ravi Velloor has spent 36 years in journalism, about half of them in India, and met many of the key decision-makers of the time.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

India's tumultuous journey in the decade that culminated in the rise of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is examined in a new book by veteran Straits Times journalist Ravi Velloor.
 

India Rising: Fresh Hope, New Fears chronicles the country's transition at several levels and the position it now enjoys as it is wooed by all major powers.

It also assesses its potential to become the world's fifth largest economic power by the end of this decade and discusses new fears that have arisen, particularly the unease that minorities feel under a leader who is backed by Hindu nationalist forces.

The 384-page book is a collection of anecdotes and observations of the significant events that marked the decade of Congress Party rule under former prime minister Manmohan Singh (2004 to 2014), that led to the rise of Mr Modi.

The book will be launched next Thursday at the National Library Building by Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong.

  • Singapore-related insights in book

  • In his book, India Rising: Fresh Hope, New Fears, Straits Times associate editor Ravi Velloor offers some Singapore-related insights on:

    •Singapore's Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement with India, which became a game changer in the bilateral relationship.

    •Singapore's attempts to enter the aviation sector in India.

    •Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's fondness for Singapore.

    •The Republic's connection to the Indian outsourcing story.

    •His search for the body of lawyer Lo Hwei Yen, who became the first Singaporean victim of terrorism when she was killed in the Mumbai attacks in 2008.

It is priced at $34.90 (including GST) and is available at all major bookstores as well as online at www.stpressbooks.com.sg

The writer has spent 36 years in journalism, about half of them in India, and met many of the key decision-makers of the time. Built around the access the author enjoyed with them, it explains the nation's complexities for those seeking a deeper understanding of the country which has over a billion people.

LIKE A 'CT SCAN' OF INDIA

Each chapter cuts a different slice into the complex reality which is India. Like a CT scan, the slices combine to give the reader a composite sense of the unfolding Indian drama.

Importantly for Asia, it also looks closely at the strategic sweet spot India has found itself in, wooed by every major power. India is too big to be ignored.

SINGAPORE'S FORMER FOREIGN MINISTER GEORGE YEO, who contributed a long foreword.

Mr Velloor, 58, an associate editor with ST who writes its weekly "Speaking of Asia" column, said: "In an Asia caught in rapid transition, no country is as fascinating to report on as India.

"Big, noisy, bulging at the seams, India's economy and society move much like traffic on a New Delhi road.

"For every high-horsepower engine on the road, there is the cycle rickshaw and the humanly powered pushcart frustrating those who seek to travel more quickly.

"But behind its warts and obvious confusions, a pattern is discernible of an India that warrants optimism. This is an India of resilience, of improvisation, a nation of multiple ethnicities in 29 states gelling as one, even as they steadily and confidently embrace the world outside."

The author spent a year writing the book and credits Straits Times editor Warren Fernandez for conceiving the idea and encouraging him to write it.

Singapore's former foreign minister George Yeo, who contributed a long foreword, said: "Each chapter cuts a different slice into the complex reality which is India. Like a CT scan, the slices combine to give the reader a composite sense of the unfolding Indian drama.

"Importantly for Asia, it also looks closely at the strategic sweet spot India has found itself in, wooed by every major power. India is too big to be ignored."

Mr Fernandez added: "Ravi knows India like few other correspondents and he has a knack for telling a good story. This book is a worthy addition to our growing list of authoritative accounts on events in our region by seasoned ST correspondents."

Ms Susan Long, general manager of publisher Straits Times Press, called it "an evocative portrait of India in transition".

Mr Velloor, meanwhile, has started work on his next book, Tales From A Misspent Life, which will share experiences of his encounters with the world's powerful and famous, as well as some lesser known people.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 16, 2016, with the headline 'Veteran ST journalist traces India's journey to Modi in new book'. Print Edition | Subscribe