Suketu Mehta: India – Maximum Democratic Experiment


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116 Photo Clicks R: Salman Rushdie, Suketu Mehta, Tunku Varadrajan & CG D. Mulay R: Salman Rushdie, Suketu Mehta, Tunku Varadrajan & Ambassador Dyaneshwar. M. Mulay


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 City - Bombay Lost & Found

Maximum City – Bombay Lost & Found by Suketu Mehta

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.”



About Author

Lavina Melwani is a New York-based journalist who writes for several international publications. [email protected] & @lassiwithlavina Sign up for the free newsletter to get your dose of Lassi!


  1. Loved reading this, what a fabulous speech and article. Suketu Mehta is an amazing writer and his book Maximum City is an all-time favorite. No other book describes my beautiful Bombay in such loving detail. Thanks for sharing this with us :)

  2. Lavina Melwani on

    On Google + World Wide India Community

    Sreedevi Santosh +1’d

    Suman Kumar Dhoot +1’d

    deepesh kumar +1’d

  3. Lavina Melwani on

    On Google + India Community

    mahendar singh +1’d

    Antoine Garth +1’d and reshared

  4. Lavina Melwani on

    Via Facebook

    I’m a fan of his work and this is def on my list.

    – Dottie Sheth

  5. Lavina Melwani on

    Via Facebook

    Sabina Himani “Indians need to understand that free speech, the right to think and exchange ideas freely, isn’t just an elite privilege; it is at the core of the democracy that we so cherish. The problem is that large sections of the country seem to prefer the freedom to be affronted over freedom of speech.”

    MF Tyrewala Totaly agree

  6. Lavina Melwani on

    Thanks Sunil Deepak – it’s hard to illustrate ideas but I think the artist managed to do so!

  7. What a great read! I love Suketu Mehta’s work and I wish I was there in person to hear him speak! I look forward to his projects!!