THE writer of a book on Modern India is beset at the outset with three difficulties. First there is the old question of whether to assume the necessary background of knowledge, or to give a brief and therefore unsatisfactory sketch of Indian history and religions. As this series is intended for the general public, the latter alternative had to be chosen, but the limitations of a procedure which allows under five thousand words for a summary of Hinduism and a few pages for an account of the impact of Britain on India are obvious.
The second difficulty lies in the speed of change in Modern India. Any study of Indian affairs at this point of time resembles an attempt to take a still picture of a fast-moving scene. There are, however, certain long-term trends discernible and if the writer has succeeded in analysing them, it will matter little if the details are overtaken by events.
The third difficulty arises from the fact that some of the matters discussed in this book arouse strong emotions in India and there is always the risk that a frank account of them by a non-Indian may give offence to a people whose newly-won independence has heightened their natural sensitivity. The writer nevertheless hopes that, since India stands in his thoughts and affections only next to his own country, he may be permitted to write about the doings of her leaders as freely as he would about the British Cabinet.
This book is based mainly on close observation of India's politics and administration over a generation and on innumerable discussions with many Indian friends--politicians, officials, business men and members of the professions. To them all, the writer is grateful, but particular acknowledgments must be made of the help of a distinguished Indian friend, who in view of his high position prefers to remain anonymous, but