In This Review

A Family Affair: India Under Three Prime Ministers
A Family Affair: India Under Three Prime Ministers
By Ved Mehta
166 pp, Oxford University Press, 1982

In some Third World countries, anti-Western fundamentalism has come to power; in others, it lurks beneath the surface. The virtue of this small but highly readable book is not merely its style. It makes the reader aware that beneath the surface of Indian politics there is a fundamental struggle going on between a Western-oriented middle class and a backward-looking, populist, atavistic, obscurantist array of forces, many of which joined hands in the Janata coalition that overthrew Mrs. Gandhi in 1977. Mehta describes vividly an India that, although a parliamentary democracy, is also a feudal society, organized around principles of caste and family, and rife with superstition. He has acerbic sketches both of Mrs. Gandhi and of her Janata rivals.