About my book ‘IMPLOSION: India’s Tryst with Reality’

The picture of an auto-rickshaw – an urban elephant – has been cropped from a larger painting by Feroz Khan, a young artist based in Delhi. _________________________________________________________________________________



My new book IMPLOSION: India’s Tryst with Reality, published by Harper Collins India, is on sale in India and Pakistan and other South Asian bookshops. E-books and hard covers are also available in India and internationally on Amazon sites.  For India delivery also buy on Flipkart http://bit.ly/1oXdOZQ

Since independence in 1947, India has basically muddled through, turning confusion and adversity into varying degrees of success, and failure. The book looks at how this has happened and how India works. Also how it doesn’t work because of the ‘quick fix’ attitude known as jugaad and laissez faire’s chalta hai that together have eaten into the country’s social and political fabric.

The book examines how corruption has affected all aspects of Indian life. It questions the decades of rule by the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, and suggests that democracy provides a smokescreen for much that is wrong.  It explores the impact of economic liberalisation, traces the build-up of social unrest over corruption, rape and exploitation of land, and reflects on the limitations of a hesitant foreign policy and depleted defence forces.  Along the way, the book uncovers a secret ‘M document’ written in 1990 that mapped out the 1991 economic reforms, and reveals how I was an unwitting spectator at a Pakistan briefing meeting for the 1991 Kargil war.

There’s much more, including the hopes of a new young generation and growing public demand for changes in the way the country is run.


NI-BW July '14 P1040070_2I’m a British journalist and have been in South Asia for more than 20 years, writing initially in the 1980s for the Financial Times and, since the mid-1990s, mostly for Fortune magazine, The Economist and (till 2003) the New Statesman. My reports now appear on the Hong Kong-based AsiaSentinel.com home page, and on the blog pages of The Independent newspaper (UK) and Newsweek magazine in the US

Riding the Elephant began in April 2007 as a twice-weekly column on Fortune magazine’s website – http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/ . The aim was to expand the website’s coverage of India in the run-up to Fortune’s big Global Forum conference in Delhi in October 2007. After the Forum, I continued the posts about once a week till the end of July 2008 when, following budget cuts at Fortune.com, the blog began its independent existence here. Posts used to appear occasionally on the FT.com India page

I write about India, and sometimes its neighbours, about once every week or so, focussing on issues that seem to me to be interesting and important – hoping that they stimulate interest and comment. I also occasionally write on events in the UK.

 Other career details:

Financial Times’ first South Asia correspondent (1983-88), following several years in London as labour editor and industrial editor. In 1988 moved to Hong Kong as the FT’s correspondent for the territory, southern China, and Taiwan. 

In 1991, left the FT and spent just over three years in the Hong Kong Government as public affairs adviser to the Chief Secretary, then returned to India in 1995.

President of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of South Asia (2007-09) and of the International Association of Press Clubs (2008-09).


 “Foreign Correspondent – 50 years of Reporting South Asia”, Editor with Bernard Imhasley, Simon Denyer. Penguin India. April 2008 hardback. November 2009 updated paperback – http://www.penguinbooksindia.com/en/content/foreign-correspondent  

India and China – Asia’s New Giants: Stepping Stones to Prosperity, Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Contemporary Studies, Delhi 1995. http://www.rgics.org/Conflict or Co-operation

Conflict or Co-operation? – The Growth of Industrial Democracy, Kogan Page London, hardback 1977, updated paperback 1983. http://www.abebooks.com/9780850381061/Conflict-Co-Operation-Growth-Industrial-Democracy-0850381061/plp


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  1. Dear John,

    I have just finished reading Implosion and I must Congratulate you on your this masterly work. I have no doubt that you must have put in lots of hours to write this book but your effort was wellworth it.

    You had covered a very vast canvas and time frame and have been aptly able to capture the ethos of Indian life and pality. This is a rare combination and I must compliment you. Most Works cover the political environment or social milieu, you have very aptly covered both. Another great point is that you have not been judgmental. Your description Judgard and chalta hai is masterly.
    With the new Govt. coming in, you may have to revist your conclusions. But these are very early days yet. Hype is evident reality will take time to manifest.

    With warm regards,

    (Amarjit Singh)

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