Meet the Author: Somini Sengupta
Journalist Somini Sengupta is the author of The End of Karma: Hope and Fury Among India's Young (2016). Sengupta covers the United Nations for the New York Times and was formerly the Times' bureau chief in Dakar and New Delhi. Born in Calcutta, Sengupta grew up in Canada and California. She spoke with CPD about her book, young India, and India's increasingly prominent role on the world stage.
What inspired you to write these personal tales of seven young Indians?
India is going through a historic youth bulge, and I wanted to tell the story of what impact India's young -- it's noonday's generation, as I call them -- was having. I wanted to explore that through the lives of ordinary young men and women who I could identify with -- and hopefully, my readers.
Why is The End of Karma crucial reading for global citizens today?
As much of the rest of the world is aging, India is home to the largest concentration of young working age people anywhere in the world. So they will inevitably bear on everything from the demands on the global economy, migration, climate change, political stability -- everything. There are 420 million Indians between the ages of 15 and 34 alone -- and a million Indians are turning 18 every month. This book tells their stories and how they reveal the faultlines of Indian democracy. Oh, and India is poised to become the most populous country in the world by 2022.
What surprised you in the course of researching and writing this book?
How difficult it is to tell one story about India!
Having grown up between the U.S. and India in the 1970s and '80s, do you see a deeper understanding of Indians on the part of Americans today, and vice versa?
I'm surprised there isn't a deeper understanding. We are close cousins, our two countries. As Americans, we sadly don't know as much of the world as we should as citizens of the world's richest, most powerful country. Indian news media certainly doesn't cover the rest of the world as much as one would expect, given that India has the world's largest diaspora (16 million worldwide). As for the U.S., Indians do follow U.S. politics pretty closely, and many of them are scratching their heads this year!