Foreign Policy

The surprising popularity of a libertarian hero in India.
Foreign Policy

Not only do Indians perform more Google searches for Ayn 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.

As modern India continues to undergo seismic economic and cultural shifts, not to mention the current global recession, Rand is emerging as a touchstone for a new generation. For many Indians, she is a tonic of modernization, helping to inspire a break with India’s collectivist, socialist past. Rand’s mixture of capitalist boosterism and self-empowerment is an irresistible combination for a range of Indians, from think-tankers to corporate barons to pop stars.

Rand’s celebration of independence and personal autonomy has proven to be powerfully subversive in a culture that places great emphasis on conforming to the dictates of family, religion, and tradition.