Mantras of Change: Reporting India in a Time of Flux brings to the fore the face of a new India, a country that is in a constant and prolonged state of social and economic ferment, largely driven by the aspirations of people at every level, fuelled by the many forces that are beyond the control of the government or the increasingly powerful private sector.
Bullock carts and snake charmers are deliberately set aside as Lak offers a glimpse of life in changing India based on his travels and encounters with people along the way. Witty and provocative, the essays talk about the information technology boom and its impact, the sexual revolution, environmental degradation, the breakdown of family structures and, of course, poverty and caste. In a series of sharply drawn portraits, the book introduces us to a policeman working in death squads, Hindu priests striving to save the environment, HIV-positive women dying a dignified death, old soldiers from the opposite sides of intractable conflicts showing genuine affection for each other, and several sexual advice counsellors.
Above all, Mantras of Change is an effort to share with the readers Lak’s idea of India and his love affair with a glorious and perplexing land.