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  1. Book ImageThe End of Karma: Hope and Fury Among India's Young

    Somini Sengupta

    A penetrating, personal look at contemporary India—the world’s largest democracy at a moment of transition.

Discussion Questions

  1. Somini Sengupta quotes Ramachandra Guha as saying, “India is a fifty-fifty democracy.” What does this mean, and how does this idea manifest itself in the stories she investigates?
  2. Sengupta writes on page 20, “Aspiration is like water. It needs a place to go, or else it drowns everything in its path.” How is this statement true for the noonday generation?
  3. In what ways do you see the structures of caste weakening, and in what ways are they holding fast?
  4. In a way, Anupam studies in order to survive, and the limited resources he competes for are seats in a classroom instead of food or shelter. What does this say about opportunity and success among India’s young, and how has it changed over the generations?
  5. Child-rights advocates say that human trafficking has been rising steadily in the 2000s as urban Indians prosper. Why do you think this is?
  6. Supriya, unlike many of her peers, thinks often about the dehumanizing inequity of contemporary India. How would you act in her position, confronted by such a stark contrast between living standards?
  7. How can you explain the introduction and persistence, despite government counterinsurgency efforts, of the Maoist presence in India?
  8. In the chapter “Facebook Girls,” Sengupta quotes Lawrence Liang, who calls the first amendment of India’s constitution, placing restrictions on speech, “the first crisis of the nation state.” In what way? Is the story of the Facebook Girls emblematic of this crisis?
  9. How does the Ram temple movement highlight the challenges of democratic governance in such a diverse and populous country? How does Narenda Modi position himself vis à vis the movement?
  10. Sengupta writes of the paradoxes of the noonday generation in the chapter about Monica and Kuldeep, saying, “Noonday’s children push for a more genuine freedom, certainly. But on the whole, they can be very conventional.” How is this true of Monica’s murderers? How can you explain the factors that drove them to commit their crime?

About Somini Sengupta

Somini Sengupta, a George Polk Award–winning journalist, covers the United Nations for The New York Times, for which she was previously the bureau chief in Dakar and New Delhi. She was born in Calcutta and lives in New York.

Books by Somini Sengupta

  1. Book CoverThe End of Karma: Hope and Fury Among India's Young

    A penetrating, personal look at contemporary India—the world’s largest democracy at a moment of transition.More