India, March 15 -- This book has a promising title and describes itself on the cover rather grandly as "the first serious study of Indian business in the period since Independence." The title page carries a subtitle: Caste, Business and Industry in a Modern Nation that doesn't appear on the cover.

The first word, 'caste' is the subaltern giveaway. The author has worked hard to fathom the nation's industrial happenings using a caste narrative that is, in my view, inappropriate in modern secular India.

In the preface, Damodaran explains that "the so-called non-traditional business communities (are) the real focus of the book." The same sentence carries on to generously praise two successful "Kamma" magnates. I have kept away from naming i...