- Paperback: 300 pages
- Publisher: Three Essays Collective; 1 edition (27 March 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9383968192
- ISBN-13: 978-9383968190
- Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.9 x 21.6 cm
- Average Customer Review: 2 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,12,230 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Lottery of Birth: On Inherited Social Inequalities Paperback – Import, 27 Mar 2017
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About the Author
Namit Arora is an essayist, humanist, travel photographer, and former Internet technologist. His home on the web is www.shunya.net.
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Best part of book is “The Narratives of Inequalities”, wherein he put forth his views on caste and it’s implication on society, politics and governance irrespective of ideology and perspective differences.
A must read for all serious readers interesting in knowing most unfortunate reality of prevailing caste culture even in today’s so-called modern, secular, democratic India, where it is shamelessly preserved to maintain caste privilege of few and denying dignity to millions of fellow Indians on the basis of birth in lower caste.
Good work Namit , Keep the Good work Going.
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There is a truism... you cannot understand a country's history without reading the memoirs of (or otherwise comprehending the experience of) those who were brutalized by that country. For instance, you cannot understand US History by confining yourself to Mark Twain and eliminating Frederick Douglass from your reading list. However, it is difficult to read those memoirs — it is more comfortable to pretend that the life they describe never existed. In that regard, Namit's book does a wonderful job of introducing the memoirs of many individuals who have been brutalized by the Indian society and state. He does so in a non-judgmental manner and without self-righteousness, which, in my opinion, makes it easier to accept.
Namit also does a wonderful job introducing various socio-economic and religious factors that went into the making of this class structure. How did religion influence the caste system? How do various unearned social privileges operate in modern India? He provides insights into these questions, and others like it. Some readers, especially those of a religious or nationalistic bent, may be offended by his take at times. However, when viewed dispassionately, it can be seen that his contentions are often reminiscent of, say, someone like Ambedkar’s (who he quotes quite liberally and admiringly). Furthermore, when viewed dispassionately, critiques like these can benefit the faith being critiqued by reducing its inherent injustices.
This book is sprinkled throughout with on solutions. On the big issue of ensuring that future growth is more egalitarian, Namit presents 3 different models, but none of them are ones that I found to be without disadvantages. Perhaps this is one area that requires substantial work. Of course, a precursor to all such work is a clearer and deeper understanding of the problem itself, which is what this book excels in.
All considered, I think I am substantially better off, having read this book.
Namit Arora also takes on the meritocracy narrative in context of his own life and with humility he describe the how "lotteries" (being right place and right time) is a big factor to "success". Being in the "right place" is engraved in Indian society by very powerful caste-system.
It is also refreshing to read a essay on Ambedkar who is rightfully characterized more secular rationalist than Nehru and more relevant to very dream of just, modern and humane society in India.
The book provides a extensive references to similar socio-economic conditions in the other parts of the world. It is refreshing to see a book with such tremendous clarity and author's courage to bring many socio-economic taboo topics with own experiences in the current raucous political environment.
With curiosity and integrity, Aurora explores inequalities resulting from chances of fate. First, he sets things up in the intro with a personal perspective. What if he hadn’t been born to parents who sent him to an English speaking school? What if he didn’t have an aptitude for science and math? What if he was gay or had dark skin? We start the journey knowing there is more to the lottery then just being born into a lower caste.
As I progressed through the book, I learned many of my assumptions about social inequality and India were wrong. I had heard about the caste system and watched the movie Gandhi, but I’m not Indian. As an American, I had survived quite well speaking English on business trips to India so I was surprised to learn relatively few Indians speak English. I had no idea Indian authors struggled or even failed to publish non-English language literary works. And the challenges weren’t limited to the British discriminating against the Indians. I was ignorant that Gandhi did not want to break down the caste even when faced with eloquent compelling arguments for social equality by Dr BR Ambedkar, an Indian intellectual giant who lost the lottery (he was born into the untouchable Dalit caste).
Aurora is well positioned to contrast and compare social inequality in India with America given he has lived and studied in both. Aurora pronounces “It is often said that the caste is to India what race is to America” then takes me on an eye-opening journey of my own country’s history. I finished the book with renewed energy for critical thinking of social inequalities in my life. If you’re ready to enjoy a thought provoking journey, this book is for you.