Thursday, November 20, 2008

Analytical narratives about India

Its not an easy task to write analytical narratives about India. For almost five years, I have been trying to write interesting papers about institutions, entrepreneurship and so many other aspects of economic life in India, and my efforts are constantly frustrated because the subject is so vast. It is just impossible to tell a simple story about India. Its a complicated mesh with several layers of stories each intertwined with the other in such a way that trying to untangle them is simply impossible. One cannot tell one story about India without referring to several others in the background that are driving the primary narrative. This frustrates academic writing, because for every economic story there is a reference to at least ten others in the background and you cannot tell just one story and not tell the others, so pretty soon the focus of the narrative is a tome rather than a laser beam. This is true even if one is writing for Indian audiences, because your perspective reflects on all the stories and not just the one you are writing about, so you need to re-explain phenomena that are popularly understood differently. 
All that being said, it is fun writing about India, especially because of those hundred other stories, and as I dig into history, I am constantly surprised with things I did not know about India. I could be happy at no other job than research on India. I guess that is why I am enjoying writing my dissertation. It is focussed on three small stories without cluttering the narrative with the background stories!! 

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