The New Miss India: Popular Fiction in contemporary India

Deborah Philips

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Miss New India is the title of a 2011 novel by Indian-born (now American-based) Bharati Mukherjee, which tells the story of a young woman who leaves her small-town home and family to find work in a call centre in the information technology city of Bangalore.The call centre is emblematic of a ‘new India’, in which educated young people seize the possibilities of a global labour market.This is a generation for whom colonialism is ancient history, a generation who have grown up inthe aftermath of economic liberalization in India. Chetan Bhagat refers to this generation as ‘Young India’and has written a series of best-selling novels that feature ambitious young men in the ‘new India’. There is, however, an emerging genre of similar narratives written by women and addressed to a female readership. This article discusses a range of contemporary Indianwomen’s popular novels and argues that, while Bhagat and his male heroes may embrace globalization and the market, the narratives written by women are more nuanced in their celebration of economic liberalization. The novels dramatize the tensions between tradition and modernity, family and independence, and suggest that these are particularly fraught for young Indian women. These texts pick up on the discourses of contemporary journalism about ‘Young India’, within the generic form of the romance, but their resolutions are repeatedly uneasy and suggest that the ‘new India’ is not an entirely comfortable space for the new Miss India.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)96-111
Number of pages16
JournalWomen: A Cultural Review
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jul 2015

Bibliographical note

This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis Group in Women: A Cultural Review on 16/07/2015, available online:


  • India
  • popular fiction
  • globalization
  • information technology workers


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