Dalkey Literary Awards - 20th June 2020
Dalkey Literary Awards - 20th June 2020

Will India save the world? They’ll do their best


We’re here with a dream team of thinkers from India made up of Shashi Tharoor, Sharad Paul, and Vikas Nath who are answering the question “Can India save the world?” with Fintan O’Toole.

All have been on panels and will be speaking at different talks over the weekend, take a look here.


Vikas makes the audience do a show of hands for who’s been to India. Most of the hands go up in the air. Vikas then asks who’s British. One hand goes up. “Good,” he says, “I can give out about the Brits then.”

Vikas points out to how India has done an extraordinary thing, by turning non tradeable goods into tradeable goods with the its industries like call centres and financial services.

“Can India save the world? We’ll try,” Vikas says.

Fintan brings up the issue of women’s rights in India.

“Anything I tell you about India, the opposite is also true,” Shashi replies.

“The first female prime minister was Indian, the first female lawyer was Indian, and even the female doctor in the world was Indian, but sadly it’s true that we have a problem with our treatment of women, particularly our women in the more rural, traditional parts of India.”_MCX7433

We’re onto the subject of inequality, and Vikas takes the question.

“Inequality has come down in India, things have been improving and things have trickled down. In the last 25 years, 400 million people have joined the middle class, there has been a huge eradication of poverty in India,” he says. “If you stretch it from top to bottom India is the length of St Petersburg to Portugal.”

Fintan puts it to the panel that India isn’t on the UN Security Council and that it’s shocking – the panel whole-heartedly agrees.


Dr. Sharad Paul spoke about the evolvement of medicine & healthcare with Dr. Jennifer Westrup #DalkeyBookFest

A photo posted by Dalkey Book Festival (@dalkeybookfestival) on

Shashi says that it’s because the powers that are on the Security Council don’t want to see their power diluted, because India should be on it realistically.

It’s question time and a woman in the audience has asked about the high-profile rape cases in India that have made headlines in recent months and years.

Vikas takes the question and points to the fact that statistically speaking India does not have more rape than anywhere else in the world, but that there is a very free press which is good and that is able to report on cases of the sort mentioned above._MCX7424

Sharad tells an anecdote about bride burning (an Indian practice) in a rural clinic he was working in. He tells of the culture of silence that he wasn’t aware of as a young doctor and that he only became aware through an older wiser colleague opening his eyes to it.

Fintan ends the debate with the idea of ‘nostalgia of empire’ that has returned in recent times, and which will be addressed in more detail tomorrow.