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The essay provides an overview of social, political and economic development in India. The last few years have seen an ever increasing number of contributions on China, a country believed by many to be poles apart from the West. India, on the other hand, is often considered less different on account of its pluralistic nature and its democratic regime, a feature recently invoked by Washington as a catalyst for a possible new alliance between the US and India. In reality, scholars such as Arnold Toynbee have long warned about the importance of looking beyond surface appearance, suggesting that India is a radically different civilisation from the western Judaic-Christian one and reminding us how the Indian subcontinent was the scene of the meeting of three of the greatest non-western civilisations ever to appear on the planet: the Hindu, the Islamic and what he, Toynbee, calls the civilisation of the Far East. It would thus appear necessary to prudently acknowledge the problems involved in relations between the West and India, a country that, with thousands of years of experience in managing human, political and economic complexity behind it, will be a vital partner over the next few decades – in Asia and beyond.