SUPERFAST, PRIMETIME, ULTIMATE NATIONAL: The Relentless Invention of Modern India by Adam Roberts

  • Written by  Mick Herron
  • Published in Books
SUPERFAST, PRIMETIME, ULTIMATE NATIONAL: The Relentless Invention of Modern India by Adam Roberts
08 May
When making predictions about India’s future, the first step is to visit a fortune teller and his magic parrots: India, Adam Roberts thereby learns, will become the world’s Number One nation and win the World Cup – ‘understatement gets you nowhere’ in India; only superlatives will do

Which means that, in his analysis of the country’s potential, The Economist’s former India bureau chief has to burrow beneath the bombast.

With the crunch year of 2022 approaching, when the nation is expected to overtake China and become the most populous in the world, it’s a worrying time in many ways – liberals fear PM Nerendra Modi’s exploitation of religious divisions; the continuing societal preference for male children remains a threat to stability (and it’s been estimated that India’s economy would be 60 per cent larger if women were in the paid workforce); instances of gang rape are so frequent it’s become a matter of international concern; and environmental standards are lax enough that there are open sewers feeding into the Ganges. Corruption remains a deep-rooted problem, and Roberts supplies scores of examples, from fraudulent corporations to entire cricket teams to the politician who, ‘pointing to boxes full of cash stacked in his office, [said]: “There is an election coming.”’

And yet efficiencies can thrive: the town of Surat, in Gujarat, has transformed in recent decades from being ‘the filthiest city in India’ – open sewers and decaying animal carcasses in the streets leading to fears of pneumonic plague – to a model city, with proper sewerage, reliable water systems and a power surplus: all thanks to a local government crackdown on corrupt practices. Roberts’ long experience of life in the country allows him to add anecdotal colour to his acute observations, and anyone needing a primer on, potentially, the next global superpower need look no further.

Click here to purchase Superfast, Primetime, Ultimate Nation: The Relentless Invention of Modern India by Adam Roberts

Share this story...

Submit to FacebookSubmit to Google PlusSubmit to Twitter

Geographical Week

Get the best of Geographical delivered straight to your inbox every Friday.

Subscribe Today


Aberystwyth UniversityUniversity of GreenwichThe University of Winchester




Travel the Unknown


Like longer reads? Try our in-depth dossiers that provide a comprehensive view of each topic

  • The Air That We Breathe
    Cities the world over are struggling to improve air quality as scandals surrounding diesel car emissions come to light and the huge health costs of po...
    Diabetes: The World at Risk
    Diabetes is often thought of as a ‘western’ problem, one linked to the developed world’s overindulgence in fatty foods and chronic lack of physi...
    National Clean Air Day
    For National Clean Air Day, Geographical brings together stories about air pollution and the kind of solutions needed to tackle it ...
    The Nuclear Power Struggle
    The UK appears to be embracing nuclear, a huge U-turn on government policy from just two years ago. Yet this seems to be going against the grain globa...
    REDD+ or Dead?
    The UN-backed REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) scheme, under which developing nations would be paid not to cut dow...


NEVER MISS A STORY - follow Geographical

Want to stay up to date with breaking Geographical stories? Join the thousands following us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and stay informed about the world.

More articles in REVIEWS...


An emotional and divisive documentary that explores the trophy hunting…


by Paul Murton • Birlinn • £14.99 (softback)


by Harry Hook • HIP Editions • £54 (hardback)


by James Suzman • Bloomsbury • £18.99 (hardback)


by Thorkild Hansen • New York Review Books • £11.99…


by David Bellamy • Search Press • £25 (hardback)


by Michael Bristow • Sandstone Press • £8.99 (paperback)


Oslo makes complex geopolitics a living, breathing spectacle


New blockbuster takes climate chaos to the extreme, where what…


Prestigious Natural History Museum photography competition recognises Brent Stirton's capturing…


An inveterate armchair traveller ever since my Soviet childhood, I…


Bonnett’s previous book, Off the Map, was a thoroughly readable…


When Wilkinson set off to become the Telegraph’s Islamabad correspondent…


Dartmoor National Park might appear wild, but it’s the lines…


Barry Smith is a self-confessed islomaniac and a fixation with…


Neoliberalism. The word seems to have lost all meaning. According…


Combining a treasure trove of unseen footage set to music…


The dreadful pandemic of 1918, writes Laura Spinney, ‘engulfed the…


Those of us who enjoy good travel writing know that…