Why Ayn Rand Holds Sway On Indians

Most educated Indians I have come across have read Ayn Rand. A lot many of them think highly of her. In the eyes of some, she was a brave raconteur, but when it came to politics, she was a moth-eaten individualist. Yet, it can’t be doubted that her influence is growing at an amazing pace. Recently, I came across an article, “Why Is Ayn Rand Respected More in India”. The author, Jerry Johnson, says it is partly because Rand’s reputation “has escaped the lies, mischaracterizations, and attacks of the intellectual and academic elite in the US.” Another reason is that Indians could easily relate to what Ayn Rand wrote. We live in a highly collectivist society. An American libertarian friend of mine told me that in India, corruption is there for everyone to see. It is glaringly obvious that it can’t escape anyone’s attention. Jerry Johnson thinks that “Rand’s uniquely powerful, persuasive, bold, and lucid style of writing is perfect for the tastes of the Indian audience who are not into obfuscations, meandering musings, and equivocality. Rand’s admirable style of revealing things as they are, never faking reality, and calling a spade a spade, seems superbly customized for the Indian readership.” One of the greatest merits of Ayn Rand’s writings is that she writes in such a straight-forward manner. Philosophers usually hold highly nuanced and contingent views. One is left wondering what they really meant. Ayn Rand will have none of this disrespectful treatment of the reader. I don’t think anyone will have any confusion over what Ayn Rand really meant. Jerry Johnson ends by saying that the phenomenon of “growing out of Ayn Rand” is catching up in India too, as Indians like to ape the west. I know at least half a dozen young Indians who claim to be “over her already”. Not a good sign!

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