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Chetan Bhagat's Poetics of Management for an Optimizing India

Debojoy Chanda

In this article I attempt to examine the role that a literary figure, using an idiom of management speak,
may play in proliferating selective narratives of nation and nationalist ideologies.
Unlike in the Global North, the project of nation-building remains perpetually incomplete in the South.
This is particularly the case with an ex-colonized nation like India that harbors local secessionist
tendencies and communitarian nationalisms. ‘India’ as an entity has therefore to be perennially
replenished with a managerial rhetoric that may help maintain it in a state of cohesion. Such a managerial
rhetoric can, however, assume a dangerously conservative character: exalting a globalized economy, it can
simultaneously draw on a theological politics to portray minorities as constituents of an “un-Indian”
nation. To discuss the literary transposition of one such perverse brand of managerial rhetoric, I reflect
upon certain coordinates from populist Anglophone Indian writer Chetan Bhagat’s novelistic and
nonfictional oeuvre.

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