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Suketu Mehta on Indo-US Traffic of Ideas
It’s not often that you get to see heavyweights of the writing world together but this happened at the Indian Consulate in New York recently when Suketu Mehta, Salman Rushdie and Tunku Varadrajan all congregated in the ballroom of New India House. The occasion was the inaugural lecture by Suketu Mehta, initiated by Consul General of India, Ambassador Dyaneshwar M. Mulay, himself a noted writer.
Mehta, author of the much acclaimed “Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found’ and associate professor of journalism, New York University, spoke about the India he grew up in and the changing India. The moderator was Tunku Varadrajan, Professor at the City University of New York’s Graduate School of Journalism and Sir Salman Rushdie, Master Storyteller, was a guest. We didn’t get an opportunity to hear him interact – but his mere presence is always compelling!
Mulay talked about India’s changing global image and the importance of starting a conversation on the perception of India and getting mainstream media as well as university students and second generation Indian Americans involved in a continuing discussion.
Suketu Mehta thanked Mulay for giving him “the diplomatic space to be undiplomatic” and then embarked on a journey to the old and new India, warts and all. It was an India seen through the prism of reality and also its changing role in a changing world.
Later in a lively question and answer session, lots of questions were raised by the audience, answered by Suketu Mehta and Tunku Varadrajan.
Maximum Suketu: India, Striving for the Limits of What’s Possible.
“As most of you know, I’ve written a book about Bombay called ‘Maximum City’. If Bombay is the maximum of the urban experience, India is the maximum of the democratic experiment. What does it mean to be ‘maximum’? By the middle of the century, India will be the world’s most populous nation, overtaking China. Biologically, at least, we will be number one. But ‘maximum’ isn’t just about population. It connotes generosity, openness, large-heartedness. It is about striving for the limits of what is possible. And it’s what characterizes the age-old cultural traffic between the country of my birth and the country of my nationality.”