Rana Dasgupta’s first non-fiction book is an investigation into what makes Delhi a city of unequal transformation, salted with ambition, aggression and misogyny. “Capital: A Portrait of Twenty-First Century Delhi” takes its shape from an “outsider’s” anxiety about not being able to understand a city that is primarily the by-product of refugees from India’s partition in 1947.
Dasgupta, 42, was born and raised in England, and belongs to a family of migrants whose roots are in the Lahore of British India, now Pakistan. In 2000, he flew to Delhi after quitting a marketing job in New York and fell “into one of the great churns of the age”.
The book, more than 400 pages long, documents personal lives of people from different socio-economic backgrounds, especially the “flourishing bourgeoisie” of Delhi, beginning about a decade after India liberalized its economy in 1991.
In a phone interview with India Insight, Dasgupta talked about writing about Delhi’s super rich, the “war against women” in India, the lack of successful women entrepreneurs, and a city that is “vastly underimagined”. Here are edited excerpts from the interview:
Q: The title of your book is a financial term. Would it be fair to say that your book looks at Delhi largely through the sphere of money?