Incarnations: A History of India in Fifty Lives (Farrar, Straus & Giroux), by Sunil Khilnani
Without the past there can be no present. Those who control history can manipulate the meaning of now. With Incarnations, Sunil Khilnani sets out not only to rescue his country’s past from obscurity but also from India’s current governing party, a Hindu fundamentalist movement seeking to deny the country’s diversity. Director of the India Institute at London’s Kings College, Khilnani concedes that the whole story can’t be told through the lives of 50 individuals, however, the backdrop for the final essay highlights Khilnani’s message. The subject is the unethical but charming billionaire Dhirubhai Ambani. The tycoon’s Horatio Alger story begins with his birth during the 1920s in the slums of Bombay when the city still had a Jewish quarter, Persian cafés and Parsi neighborhoods along with a Muslim district.