How many, in a Mumbai room full of Hermes ties and finance whizkids, are Dalit? What if Mahesh Bhatt's son, David Headley's friend, had been a Muslim? Why is Delhi getting better as a city and Mumbai going downhill?
When did the Congress first start shrinking its prime minister? When did it become clear that Narendra Modi would take over his party? Who are the HMTs? And what does an angry Arvind Kejriwal say about us?
Raising such questions is the hallmark of Shekhar Gupta's National Interest, the most eagerly awaited news and current affairs column in Indian journalism. Informed by three decades and more of formidable reporting and a credibility that gives Gupta unrivalled access to decision makers in government, politics and business, the best of these columns in Anticipating India explain and interpret, provoke and predict change for more than a billion people.
A riveting first draft of modern Indian history, Anticipating India interprets everything from the successes and failings of Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh to the ascent of Rahul Gandhi, Narendra Modi and Arvind Kejriwal, from the forces that have deepened Indian federalism and constitutionalism to the public mood that keeps a check on excesses in the use of political power.
Each chapter in Anticipating India, in its questioning of power, its use and abuse, carries within it ideas of India that challenge conventional wisdom, shatter stereotypes and, in the end, question our long-held assumptions of who we are as a nation and a people.
Shekhar Gupta's work includes some of the most significant investigations in contemporary journalism in the region: from Indira Gandhi's Operation Blue Star to the disastrous Indian intervention in Sri Lanka, from tracking Pakistan's politics and military to the first Afghan jihad and its effect in Kashmir. A recipient of the Padma Bhushan in 2009, India's third highest civilian honour, Gupta is currently working with Business Standard and pens a weekly column National Interest, which appears every Saturday.