Rajesh Kasturirangan’s book Who Are We? sets out to play with the oft deliberated, debated, dissected and derived idea of what makes the Indian way of being and more specifically as the author states, the Indian way of thinking. Culture impacts the way we perceive, feel and think—as stated by cultural psychologist Richard Nisbett, and also leads to different self construals (Markus & Kitayama, 1991). Kasturirangan appropriates and reappropriates the place of this book and his ‘theory’ on the vast canvas of many other such writings and clarifies right at the beginning of the book its aim and purpose, ‘I am less interested in a culturally encoded storehouse of thoughts and feelings and more interested in how cognitive schemas change over time, how new ideas emerge and are layered on top of the old. I will focus on mind in motion.’ As he focuses on the dynamically evolving Indian mind, the author asserts, ‘there is no “Indian perception” or “Indian memory” and more controversially, I am skeptical of claims about the “Indian Self” that generates “Indian thoughts” and “Indian emotions” despite many books written on the topic.’ Elaborating upon the same at another point in the book Kasturirangan states, ‘this book takes a brief journey on the mental road to India. How Indians think and how do they think about India? How does India make them think?’ This is where perhaps the task of the book, and the questions it seeks to answer become too ambitious.The book attempts and is fairly successful in being able to provide a large playground brimming with all things Indian and playing with the various aspects—theoretical, personal, factual and fictional—old and new to create semblances and insights into the ever-evolving Indian way of being and thinking.
Mind Map for the Indian Collective
WHO ARE WE? AN ENQUIRY INTO THE INDIAN MIND AND HOW WE CAME TO BE WHO WE ARE by Rajesh Kasturirangan Aleph Book Company, 2021, 136 pp., 499.00
January 2022, volume 46, No 1