Bryan Caplan  

Randian India?

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A piece in Foreign Policy says that Ayn Rand's now big in India:
Not only do Indians perform more Google searches for Rand than citizens of any country in the world except the United States, but Penguin Books India has sold an impressive number of copies -- as many as 50,000 of Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead each since 2005, a number comparable to sales there by global best-seller John Grisham.
100,000 books a year in a country of 1,000,000,000 people sounds unimpressive.  But it all depends on leverage.  Wouldn't it be amazing if 100,000 Indian bloggers were reading Rand every year?

HT: Kimberly Johnson


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COMMENTS (9 to date)
Delthayre writes:

No, I think that it'd be dreadful. There really must be a better source to introduce and promote a more sensible, credible form of 'libertarianism'.

Robert writes:

When I was at college I knew many Indian grad students who were passionate Rand devotees. They mentioned she was very popular back home.

Akshay Birla writes:

That number is somewhat silly. Here's why-- a lot of the books that are actually sold in India are cheap copies--fake, if you will-- that are essentially photocopied of the Penguin edition.

Besides, Ayn Rand's popularity in India is old. You'll remember that India was a socialist country until a decade or so ago, and individuals looking to escape the tyranny of the socialist governments often took refuge in the ideas of Rand and Hayek. Of course, I'm talking about the middle-class literate populace.

Finally, the Indian family structure-- many families per dwelling-- means that each book sold is potentially read by more people than when you compare it against countries where there are, on average, between two and four adults per household.

But that you have finally noted our deep free market thinking makes this Indian very pleased.

Prakhar Goel writes:

Um... not particularly.

Last time I checked, India's communist party had 10 million members.

India's politics are pretty much the definition of corruption and special interests.

A Randian India is a myth.

Akshay writes:

To talk of Rand's popularity in India as a whole is absurd. I'm not claiming a Randian India, and Goel's statement of corruption and special interestization is irrelevant here.

India's communist party received only 7% of the total votes cast in the 2004 Lok Sabha elections. That is about 27 million votes, but that's not the populace I'm talking about. Consider literate middle-income Indians who have been to college or university, and you'll find that a substantial number have read work by Ayn Rand or heard about her ideas.

Rand has enjoyed a captive audience in India for a very long time, and my claim is simply that those numbers in the FP severely underestimate the size of that audience.

Now you may want to test the validity of my claim by conducting an experiment as to how many college graduates have read of Rand.

mdc writes:

I don't mind her policy conclusions, but her philosophy is fairly insane. Not sure if this is a good thing or not frankly.

SydB writes:

Indians love the melodramatic predictable works produced by Bollywood. Makes sense they'd like Ayn Rand's fiction too.

bill writes:

The western philosophy text I saw most often for sale in India was Mein Kampf.

Makes you think.

Prakash writes:

A bit of everything.

Ayn Rand is a romantic. We Indians love that bit. Happy Endings are a must, both fountainhead and atlas shrugged had them.

Also, India being relatively poor, has a disproportionate number of people in higher studies that involve actual results. A lot if us would love to do arts/ humanities if there were jobs in those fields. There are very few, hence a majority of middle class Indians, irrespective of what their personal interests are, go into engineering/accountancy. A huge number of people would have gone into medicine as well, but the regulatory regime didn't liberalise enough for that.

Humans love to read about "people like us" as heroes. You can literally count on your fingers the number of popular authors who have engineers as heroes. AFAIK Ayn Rand, Arthur Hailey, Eric Segal(doctors), etc. are more popular in India than they are elsewhere.

Countering my hypothesis, Sci-Fi is not very popular in India(coming from a sci-fi buff). I'm not sure why that is, though...

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