10 to Watch – Anand Giridharadas, Writer

Anand Giriharidas writes the “Currents” column for The New York Times and its global edition, the International Herald Tribune: it explores fresh ideas, global culture and the social meaning of technology, among other subjects. A native of Cleveland, Ohio, and a graduate of the University of Michigan, he worked in Bombay as a management consultant until 2005, when he began reporting from that city for the Herald Tribune and the Times. He appears now and again on television and the radio in the United States and internationally, including on CNN and CBC Radio. He has lectured at Harvard, Brown, the University of Michigan, the Sydney Opera House, the United Nations, the International Development Research Centre, Google and the Young Presidents Organization as well as been a panelist and moderator at conferences organized by the Herald Tribune and the Asia Society. He has been honored by the Society of Publishers in Asia for opinion writing, by the South Asian Journalists Association for business reportage, and by the Indo-American Society for promoting cross-cultural understanding.

And as we write this, he is on a book tour for his just released book India Calling, An Intimate Portrait of a Nation’s Remaking, already receiving rave reviews.

What’s the greatest piece of advice you’ve ever gotten and from whom?
Perhaps the advice from a book editor I knew to liberate my voice, to try to sound in my writing like no one else sounds. Or the advice from my father to focus on being good at whatever vocation I chose rather than worrying, as so many Indians do, about being a doctor-engineer-banker.

What do you consider your greatest professional success?
Writing my book, “India Calling: An Intimate Portrait of a Nation’s Remaking.”

What is the strangest number you have programmed into your phone?

It’s a tie between Bill Clinton and some religious extremists I met in Bangladesh.

How would you define love?
The experience of being witnessed into being.

If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be and why?

This is fun. I would create a system where anyone in the world could go for free to college, in exchange for trading away a percentage of future income. You could opt out. But essentially college would be subsidized by those who did much better than they ever could have imagined doing, and with their consent. Education is the one thing that changes all the other things.

Describe your perfect day.
A well-made, deep cup of coffee. A good newspaper. A long stretch of writing. Steak, fries and red wine. And, above all, the company of my Priya.

Tell us one thing we don’t know about, but we should.
That I read most of my book out loud to my fiancée, Priya, to make sure that the words sang and didn’t merely inform.

What’s your prize possession?
A gold pocket watch that my great-grandfather once used; and all of my antique Indian furniture, from Jodhpur.

What would you most like to accomplish going forward?
Well, the simple act of going forward is an accomplishment in itself. Better that than going backward. Beyond that, I want to find a way to spend as many of my hours writing as possible.

If you could have a second career, what would it be?
Chef/restauranteur. Pianist. Rancher.

If you could get your news from only one source from now on, what/who would it be?
The New York Times. Come on.

Read an excerpt from India Calling published in the New York Times Magazine and see the book reviews here

Buy the book

To see more on Anand, check out his website

See our complete “List of 10 to Watch”

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