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Review Essay

India's Broken Promise

How a Would-Be Great Power Hobbles Itself

In This Review

Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity
Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity
By Katherine Boo
Random House, 2012, 288 pp. $27.00 Purchase
The Beautiful and the Damned: A Portrait of the New India
The Beautiful and the Damned: A Portrait of the New India
By Siddhartha Deb
Faber & Faber, 2011, 272 pp. $26.00 Purchase

India's political and business elites have long harbored a desire for their country to become a great power. They cheered when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh finalized a nuclear deal with the United States in 2008. Indian elites saw the deal, which gave India access to nuclear technology despite its refusal to give up its nuclear weapons or sign the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, as a recognition of its growing influence and power. And Indian elites were also encouraged when U.S. President Barack Obama announced, during a 2010 visit to India, that the United States would support India's quest to gain permanent membership on the United Nations Security Council, which would put the country on an equal footing with its longtime rival, China. In recent years, such sentiments have also spread to large segments of the Indian middle class, which, owing to the country's remarkable economic growth in the past two decades, now

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