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GRANTA Turns 30

abstract:Granta magazine is a literary quarterly from the UK that is turning 30 this year, and they’re asking you to help them celebrate by purchasing a subscription to GRANTA. Digital subscriptions fees have been wound back to 1979 for an annual cost of £3.50 – so there’s no excuse no matter where in the world you live. What’s inside?

article:

September 08, 2009
— “Since 1979, the year of its rebirth, Granta has published many of the world’s finest writers tackling some of the world’s most important subjects, from intimate human experiences to the large public and political events that have shaped our lives. Its contributors have included Martin Amis, Julian Barnes, Saul Bellow, Peter Carey, Raymond Carver, Angela Carter, Bruce Chatwin, James Fenton, Richard Ford, Martha Gellhorn, Nadine Gordimer, Milan Kundera, Doris Lessing, Ian McEwan, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Jayne Anne Phillips, Salman Rushdie, George Steiner, Graham Swift, Paul Theroux, Edmund White, Jeanette Winterson, Tobias Wolff. Every issue since 1979 is still in print. In the pages of Granta, readers met for the first time the narrative prose of writers such as Bill Bryson, Romesh Gunesekera, Blake Morrison, Arundhati Roy and Zadie Smith; and have encountered events and topics as diverse as the fall of Saigon, the mythology of the Titanic, adultery, psychotherapy and Chinese cricket fighting.” —Granta.com

I browsed this month’s edition and was immediately ensconsed by the essay of Rana Dasgupta titled, “Capital Gains.” It’s all about the change in the economy and morals of the new elite rich of Dheli using the automobile as a metaphor for changes within the last twenty years. Back when the city was negotiable (and the people valued the teachings of Ghandi) there were only three types of cars on the streets: the Hindustan Ambassador for senior polititians and bureaucrats, the Premier Padmini – both limited to a few thousand in production and took seven years to acquire (the definition of restricted ownership), and later the compact Maruti 800 named the people’s car with a quota of 150,000, which brought car travel within the limit of the middle class for the first time. But the change from central planning, not unlike the Soviet’s 5-year plans, to economic liberalization in 1991 brought by then Finance Minister Manmohan Singh, also paved the way for current social and economic realities. Hyundai, then Ford, GM and Toyota made way for BMW’s, Hummers and Lamborginis – all sharing the same choked streets.

The narator escalates bizarre examples that luxury car owners act out in their economic and social superiority. From the BMW owner who bitch-slaps the driver of a cheaper car who dares to interfere with his progress in traffic, to the infamous case of the intoxicated rich kid, Sanjeev Nanda, who mowed down and killed six people, then fled the scene, with his prominent wealthy family bribing his way around the court system. He was sentenced to five years prison, but the period was later reduced to two. The family was later caught offering bribes to government officials.

“The scene of the impact, a one-hundred-metre stretch of road strewn with organs, severed limbs and pools of blood, is like a morality painting of the cataclysmic effects of this marauding elite in the world of ordinary people.”

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