Change does not come easily to the central Indian village of Nandgaon. The headman Gopal Mundkur fears it: he suspects that modern science will only cause the destruction of the fragile harmony that binds Nandgaon and its people together. But when Ramu the village simpleton marries Laxmi the college educated daughter of a poor farmer their union gives birth to a miracle that will change Nandgaon forever and there is little Mundkur can do about it. The unlikely catalyst for this transformation is Manoj Mishra a failed PhD in history who believes he has found the solution to rural India's poverty. And he will let nothing and no one get in the way of his mission - not his wife nor the intricate mechanism of village and district administration. Gradually these four very different people become embroiled in an epic confrontation in which their ideals and their very lives are at stake. The wide cast of characters in this unusual novel combines with playful irony and humour to lay bare an India that struggles daily and in innumerable ways with the overarching issue of modernization - the ethics of it and its impact on traditional social structures.