From independence to the 1990s, India was under the rule of the Congress Party, forged by the tradition of the Nehru dynasty. Then, as decentralization led to fragmentation, India went through nine governments in ten years. Today Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee presides over the National Democratic Alliance, a 25-party coalition. This lucid volume explores the diverse complexities of this new and dynamic India. Specialists review India's politics, economic transformation, social organization, health care, and literature. One common theme is that, just as the Congress Party was never as homogeneous as it appeared, the NDA is not as fissionable as its diverse parts would suggest. All the same, Vajpayee has to tread carefully as he expands India's economic reforms, reduces state intervention, and opens the country to foreign investment. Authors also point out the key role played by the overseas Indians, who provide skills and contacts for advancing the information technology revolution in Bangalore. In turn, the emergence of an Indian middle class has profoundly affected social relations as well as economic development. An easy to use, up-to-date reference volume on most aspects of Indian life.