Chetan Bhagat: Leading the Idiocracy

BHAGAT IS, in his way, egalitarian. He genuinely believes everyone should have the same access he did to an education that serves as a catalyst for money and success. “Is a desire,” he asks plaintively in a column, “to see my country as rich as some other nations materialistic?” Bhagat lionises the rich. He admires the West for its wealth, but is not interested in the source of that wealth (hint Chetan: some of Britain’s wealth came from your country), or the development of modern societies. History cannot be smoothed over, wished away. Bhagat acts as if we’re at year zero, as if all it takes to solve our problems is to wipe the slate clean.

He wants to go shopping, like so many of us, and can’t understand why India, that precarious project, keeps getting in the way. Bhagat likes to talk about “innovation, imagination and creativity”, but he uses these words as the human resources department of an international corporation would, as synonyms for conformity. Bhagat is not interested in ideas, only in “the good life” as conceived by the builders of Gurgaon apartment complexes. And so, as they do, he sells his readers a mirage, a cut-price American dream. Surely ‘young India’ wants more.