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Book Review: What is an Indian? by Tarun Deep Singh

‘What is an Indian?’ By Tarun Deep Singh is a well-thought and well-researched philosophical book that takes a firm stance on ‘Being Indian’ and possess a very relevant question - what does this country expect from us? The author has boldly taken up the issues and problems that our country is currently facing. Thus, this work may sound like a critical evaluation of the country’s persisting problems. Well on the other hand, the author has tried to summarize the ‘Indian’ context in eleven chapters followed by three appendixes.

A close look reveals that there is a lot to grasp from this book. Tarun has taken time to elaborate the issues with a fascinating kind of psycho analysis. Initially the book opens up with some common yet profound discussions, such as what is an Indian and how we fare up our ancestors for our current social, economic and political situation. It has been seen that the people of today instead of taking responsibilities to evolve together has a nation, rather go for individual gains and motifs. They care less for the change – all that matters for them is their personal growth and living standards. They, or say we, all think that being born in India is enough to prove that we are Indians and often bask in the glory of our past heritage and history. According to the author, this trait is self-destructing; it is causing us to go away from one another. This condition is well summed up in the below paragraphs, in the exact words of the author:

“India does not start or end with a name. Being Indian is not an easy task. It is a struggle. Being passionate is good but is it sufficient? A passion is like bubble, short lived entity. Being an Indian is not ephemeral state of mind. But it is that state of mind to which an individual sticks to one life and passes over to next generation ensuring traits of being Indian never fades away even after his death. No one is born or can be an Indian. Till we practice the art of being Indian, we cannot achieve the status of being called an Indian. Carrying a passport only declares that an individual belongs to India from documentation perspective. Merely talking or writing about India, does not guarantee achieving status of Indian. To study Indian history or to know about India does not certify any individual as an Indian. To love India, does not make any one Indian. But a spirit to live, to do something, to work for India, does lead to path of being Indian.”

“It is easy to blame our elder generations that they have ruined us by not teaching us the art of being Indian. But again, I pose questions how much curiosity and maturity our present generation has shown to explore the answers?”

Apart from the Indian Identity fiasco, there is more, for example topics like the condition of women in our country. Then we have the poor educational infrastructure, the author has given some critical examples where it is shown that how poor educational facilities in colleges affect the overall skill set and knowledge gaining process of our country.

In the chapter called Spiritual Content – it has been discussed as how imposters hijack the mindsets of people. Read it and you will find the kind of strategies that these people execute on masses.

Youth is a major resource of the country and it is the same youth that impact the overall future generations of our country. However, the current state of our youth is not healthy. The youth is involved into many untoward activities. As a result drug addiction and loneliness has become a salient characteristic of today’s youth. Read on to know more about the aspects affecting the youth of India. This chapter has been divided into many sub-chapters and appears longest in the book. 

Another interesting chapter is ‘Well Known Existing Issues’, where Tarun has terrifically pointed out the some of the issues that run in this country like a backdrop, for example - discrimination based on caste, extra importance to cricket which led to the death of national sport hockey and many other indigenous sports.

The book is laced with proverbs spoken by great saints or scholars that have been considered panacea for the world over many centuries. For instance, under ‘Caste Based Difference’, we get to see the famous proverb by saint Kabeer – “Don’t ask caste of Saint but ask about his knowledge.”

Who all can take up this book: people with philosophical bend of mind, students researching about being Indian or Indianism, and those who want to peep inside the modern India’s tenacity. At a broader level, in fact whosoever is interested in knowing what kind of attitude and mentality Indian people hold today. The book scores nine out of ten in scrutinizing the psychology and behavior of our people toward our motherland.  


  1. Thanks team for wonderful review. The review is really encouraging and has brought back my confidence as a writer...😊


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