How is India doing?

It's hard to say. While some of the major changes underway in the country are extremely visible, others, less dramatic or occurring away from the media's usual hunting grounds, are more difficult to detect. Between them, we have an incomplete understanding of India as it is today.

The fallout is predictable. We live in a balkanised democracy whose people are poorly aware about the lives of their fellow citizens. The country keeps throwing up surprises ‒ the recent lynching in Dimapur, unexpected election outcomes as in Delhi, a strident new religiosity. It's getting more difficult to comprehend where we are headed.

To try to make sense of our nation in flux,'s M Rajshekhar will spend the next 15 months reporting from a set of hand-picked states: one in the North-East (Mizoram); a mineral-rich but otherwise poor state (Orissa); one state with irrigated agriculture (Punjab) and one which sees rainfed farming (Bihar); and two relatively developed states (Gujarat and Tamil Nadu).

He will try to identify the most significant changes underway in each and will report on how they are affecting people's lives. The aim is to create, as it were, a snapshot of the present.

The first state we report from is Mizoram. Read the first despatch here.