Illustration by Antler.
Credit: Dibyangshu Sarkar

India, as the old cliche goes, is a land of contrasts:

  • It's got a booming economy, and is also the poster child of abject poverty.
  • It churns out world-class engineers, and has more illiterate people than any other country.
  • It's a Hindu country, and also has more Muslims than any place but Indonesia.
  • It's the world's largest democracy, and yet in many ways is still affected by the ancient caste system.
  • It's got sexy Bollywood, of course, but also churns out hundreds of other films each year with a variety of styles and languages, including Telugu, Tamil, Marathi, Bengali, and more.

There's no doubt that India is a rising power, from global economics, to politics, to culture.

There's also no doubt that India remains a complex, ever-changing country, and one that's baffling to outsiders (and to many Indians, as well). To help decode this critically important country in transition, GlobalPost is launching a yearlong reporting and video series called The Shiva Rules.

Every month for the rest of 2011, correspondents Jason Overdorf and Hanna Ingber Win will examine the great transformation that's happening to India in the 21st century as old ways of life and ancient traditions are replaced by new ideas and practices. They'll dig into the most surprising aspects of India's economy, poverty, democracy, gender issues, culture and everything else that helps drive this teeming land of 1.1 billion people. To help make sense of these sweeping changes, they'll use the popular Indian deity of destruction and rebirth, Shiva as a loose reporting metaphor. 

Check out Jason's first installment: India's new robber barons, which examines India's great economic rise through a darker lens of corruption and oligarchy that could threaten the country's bright future.

We hope you enjoy the ride, yaar.

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