The Age of Aspiration

Power, Wealth, and Conflict in Globalizing India

A major work of reportage and analysis that demystifies contemporary India by the “quintessential nonaligned journalist” (Jeremy Scahill)

“Hiro . . . is a model political analyst. His approach is as incorrigibly nonpartisan as it is methodical.” —The Sunday Times

Nearly four decades ago, Dilip Hiro’s Inside India Today, banned by Indira Gandhi’s government, was acclaimed by The Guardian as simply “the best book on India.” Now Hiro returns to his native country to chronicle the impact of the dramatic economic liberalization that began in 1991, which ushered India into the era of globalization.

Hiro describes how India has been reengineered not only in its economy but also in its politics and cultural mores. Places such as Gurgaon and Noida on the outskirts of Delhi have been transformed from nondescript towns into forests of expensive high-rise residential and commercial properties. Businessmen in Bollywood movies, once portrayed as villains, are now often the heroes. The marginal, right-wing Hindu militants of the past now rule the nominally secular nation, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi as their avatar, one whose electoral victory was funded by big business.

Hiro provides a gripping account of the role played by Indians who have settled in the United States and Britain since 1991 in boosting India’s GDP. But he also highlights the negatives: the exponential growth in sleaze in the public and private sectors, the impoverishment of farmers, and the rise in urban slums. A masterful panorama, The Age of Aspiration covers the whole social spectrum of Indians at home and abroad.


“Hiro (The Longest August) develops a dense, intriguing analysis of India’s complex sociopolitical climate since 1991, when the country launched extensive neoliberal reforms. The book reveals the gap between astonishing technological developments and the worsening status of the poor. While appreciative of the information technology education that gives Indian students a competitive edge throughout the world, Hiro points out that ‘the benefits of the boom have gone to those at the top and the middle, leaving the bottom stagnating.’”
Publishers Weekly
“[M]eticulously researched and exhaustively detailed . . . Hiro’s work provides a stunning indictment of the fashionable idea echoed endlessly by mainstream pundits of a politically and economically healthy, thriving, democratic India. . . . The Age of Aspiration is replete with colorful and sordid tales of sleaze and corruption that follow politicians and businessmen alike. . . . Hiro’s narrative provides a compelling case for just how distorted of a ‘democracy’ India has become.”
In These Times

News and Reviews

KPFK "Uprising with Sonali"

Listen to the "Uprising with Sonali" interview with Dilip Hiro

Kirkus Reviews

"Hiro looks at the impact of globalization both on villagers and on the institutions involved, thus encompassing both the small and big pictures...Hiro examines the incredibly powerful Indian diaspora in Silicon Valley; and the continued role of the Maoist Naxalites...

Goodreads Reviews