Every year, the 1998 winner of the Nobel Prize for economics returns to Santiniketan, the tiny university town 100-odd miles from Calcutta. In Santiniketan, the former Master of Trinity College, Cambridge, can be seen on a bicycle, friendly and unassuming, chatting with the locals and working for a trust he has set up with the money from his Nobel Prize. One of the most influential public thinkers of our times is strongly rooted in the country in which he grew up; he is deeply engaged with its concerns.
There can, then, be few people better equipped than this Lamont University Professor at Harvard to write about India and the Indian identity, especially at a time when the stereotype of India as a land of exoticism and mysticism is being supplanted with the stereotype of India as the back office of the world.
In this superb collection of essays, Sen smashes quite a few stereotypes and places the idea of India and Indianness in its rightful, deserved context. Central to his notion of India, as the title suggests, is the long tradition of argument and public debate, of intellectual pluralism and generosity that informs India's history.
Bet you didn't know that bit about him going to Santiniketan every year? There is a nice article from a 1999 issue of Frontline about it.
Unfortunately, Amazon is saying that the U.S. release date isn't until October. You might be able to buy it straight from Amazon UK; I'm not 100% sure it will work, though. In India, it looks like the book is available for Rs. 650 from Penguin.