I'm currently reading The Age of Kali - William Dalrymple's collection of essays about India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. It is full of information about issues that are often unknown to those of us who have never visited these countries, covering topics including political corruption, the Portuguese in Goa and the clashes between tradition and globalisation. The book is engaging and the reader can immediately tell that Dalrymple has researched his topics very carefully and in fact he has spent many years living in and travelling around India. However it is still an outsider's view, which some people may object to, after all only an Indian can understand India? I find though that often outsiders can see things with a clear sight that is denied to people who have been born and brought up in a country.
Deepa Mehta is Indian born, though now lives in Canada. Her beautifully made and heartbreakingly sad film Water focuses on one of the issues touched on in Dalrymple's book. That is the status of widows in India. The film is set in 1938, just around the time when it became legal for widows to remarry, though it was still considered culturally unacceptable.