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A magisterial account of the pains, the struggles, the humiliations, and the glories of the world's largest and least likely democracy, Ramachandra Guha's India.
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It is a book that will transform you from semi-literates to literates as far as post independent history is concerned. And only semi-literates can be manipulated by the discourses established with an agenda and not based on facts. Kindle Edition Verified Purchase.

I found the book very informative and objective. Ramchandra Guha has done an excellent work of encapsulating such a vast amount of data about our country. Good book for all those Indians who want to learn what is India today and how we got there.


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I immensely liked the book. Excellent portrayal of post independence happenings. Guha's centrist ideology is laudable. He doesn't spare Gandhi family even, despite several criticisms of favouring the dynastic politics. This is a very detailed chronological account of India post independence history. The author analysis is balanced and unbiased. This is a good book to read and better understand how the India of today has evolved.

Guha, through his illustrative writing, encourages user to explore more about India. The book gives unparallel insight to many historical incidents. A perfect anecdote is the description of the process through which refugees were settled after partition. A perfect recepie for someone who's looking to find exactly what happened after One person found this helpful 2 people found this helpful. I got hooked onto the book looking for an answer to the question that he raises in the preface.

On the way to answering that, he created a good journey. Pre Indira era was well articulated, however the writing starts to get chaotic after Indira Gandhi comes in. He does however rhetorically answers the questions. Very thoughtful analysis of how India evolved after Gandhi. Nothing less can be expected from Ramchandra Guha. India after Gandhi is an absolutely spellbinding book written by one of the greatest intellectuals of modern India. The book is interesting, brilliantly researched, well-written and engaging despite being nearly pages long.

Ramachandra Guha is what a historian should be - an unbiased and thought-provoking scholar with a deep and unique insight that allows him to point out fascinating trends in modern Indian polity and society. Absolutely recommended for every Indian and people interested in the workings of the world's largest democracy. See all reviews. Would you like to see more reviews about this item? See all customer images. Most recent customer reviews. Published 7 days ago. An intricately researched and elegantly written epic history peopled with larger-than-life characters, it is the work of a major scholar at the peak of his abilities Hardcover , pages.

Published July 24th by Ecco first published April 20th To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about India After Gandhi , please sign up. India After Gandhi provides good coverage about India after Independence. Could you suggest books that offer very good coverage about India before the Independence era. For example, when India was under the Mughal rule, when India was thriving under the Indus Valley civilization, the rise of freedom struggle against the British etc.?

See all 3 questions about India After Gandhi…. Lists with This Book. Sep 25, Kali Srikanth rated it it was amazing Shelves: And if you don't know where you're going, you're probably going wrong. But how it still survives? To me, Indian history always meant what happened till year of Independence or perhaps my knowledge expands one little year further till Gandhiji's death.

I was kept in the d "If you do not know where you come from, then you don't know where you are, and if you don't know where you are, then you don't know where you're going. I was kept in the dark all these years about what happened once India gained its independence. But ironically that is the most crucial period of our country which tests our integrity, intelligence, power, responsibility and many more constitutional lessons to come. And this epic volume offers mountainous account of our pains partition, Riots, assassinations of leaders , conflicts never ending Kashmir problem, Nagaland 'land issues', trouble with tribal , humiliations war with China , challenges Constitution, New political parties, foreign policies, plans and glories inclusion of princely states, first general elections, wars with Pakistan etc.

Though this book attracted some criticism that author distorted some facts and truths in the wake of his unquestioning loyalty to the congress party which celebrates a rich legacy, I feel, at-least this book filled my huge knowledge gaps by relating me the events that occurred in 65 years after independence. I can decide later which point of view I shall consider things from.

The Relevance of History for Indian Foreign Policy, a Conversation with Dr. Ramachandra Guha

So no complaints there. Finally, If You have time remember it's odd pages volume and curiosity Motivation is what gets you started, but habit is what gets you going about the affairs of our country, it's a great book to own. History never seemed this entertaining. View all 3 comments. Jun 27, Sidharth Vardhan rated it it was amazing Shelves: There is, in fact, the very opposite, a great diversity of voices looking at the subjects from different perspectives. What is likable is that there are at least representations of different perspectives rather than just superlative judgements.

What I feared was that he would present one or other icons in too good a light. While he has his favourites, here too he is willing to look at both sides of all the coins. Gandhi, Jawahar Lal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, India the country - have all received both praises and criticism mostly where due. The author is not afraid of calling it a spade if he thinks it is a spade - even if it is a religious spade. And you know how big a deal that is in India. What is more, I learnt about a lot of Wikipedia page deserving people who have been mostly forgotten by popular mind.

Come to think of it, I should have a Wikipedia page!.

A good portion also went to recording experiences of minorities, marginalized groups and refugees. Then there are many very touching as well as hilarious moments in it. It might sound like a oxymoron but it is an entertaining history book.

Frequently bought together

It is no more a single country than the Equator. They are both predicted to be about to be fallen apart every few years. England wants her immigrants to learn English, because, well you know, it is England. The famous two- nation theory, forwarded by both Hindu and Muslim right, which lead to the red partition was based on this definition. But then how do you explain India? What is that attribute common among Indians? Language - European Union has 28 countries and 24 official languages.

India alone has 22 scheduled languages among others. There is no one language spoken or understood throughout the country. There are no common traditions and customs either — we have scores of different religions, festivals, food items, dances etc making tradition in different parts. Ethnicity — We are screwed there as well with simply countless Ethnic groups. A last theory is common struggle against common enemy. There are a few things that do come close — Indians are fairly united in their wars against outsiders but that is more because of national identity rather than cause of it.

Same for sports cricket obviously getting special mention. Another thing is we enjoy same entertainment movies, singers etc. Still it is good to see that author should talk about those things that make us at least more Indian than our politicians ever did.

So it would appear India is an impossible nation. And still, it was exactly the country that so many of the freedom fighters fought for. Ever since, although Hindu nationalists have tried to force some sort of common tradition down Indian throats — cow-worship and Hindi language among others, their efforts have got no long term success, India remains; and remains impossibly despite huge differences on the basis of religion, region, language, caste, class, customs etc. And that might just be what Indian experience have for Euro-American world to learn from.

View all 4 comments. Apr 03, Bob Foulkes added it. Just before a 3 week trip to India, I asked an acquaintance for the best book to read to help me gain perspective on this incredible country. India after Ghandi was his instantaneous recommendation. This is the perfect travelling companion for anyone who wishes to understand this great country. It is a complex country and the book helps us understand that complexity. It is a tough read but a perfect foundation for anyone who wants to both experience India and try to understand it.

Jun 18, Ted rated it it was amazing Shelves: Speaking of India the nation state, one must insist that its future lies not in the hands of God but in the mundane works of men. So long as the constitution is not amended beyond recognition, so long as elections are held regularly and fairly and the ethos of secularism broadly prevails, so long as citizens can speak and write in the language of their choosing, so long as there is an integrated market and a moderately efficient civil service and army, and — lest I forget — so long as Hindi film Speaking of India the nation state, one must insist that its future lies not in the hands of God but in the mundane works of men.

So long as the constitution is not amended beyond recognition, so long as elections are held regularly and fairly and the ethos of secularism broadly prevails, so long as citizens can speak and write in the language of their choosing, so long as there is an integrated market and a moderately efficient civil service and army, and — lest I forget — so long as Hindi films are watched and their songs sung, India will survive.

The first two wrote glowing reviews of the book, and all the others rated it highly. Thanks to you all! I read the Prologue tonight, with increasing astonishment. What the author wrote about in the Prologue was the attitude that the West had about India's Independence: And on top of that it couldn't possibly survive, even in pieces, as a democratic nation or nations, because of it's incredible poverty.

So here we are six decades later when the book was written , India still a single country, with democratic institutions, and yes still with a host of divisions and problems, but perhaps the single most astounding experiment in democracy that the world has seen. As I read these fifteen pages it was as if blinders were falling off my eyes, I had never considered these things before.

I was just overwhelmed by how this author, who writes extremely well, is setting out to make a narrative of the history of these years in India, to suggest what the underlying things were that made this so improbable thing come about. But whenever I picked up his book to read another chapter or two, there was no struggle involved, rather pure pleasure. Ambedkar , leader of the low castes and first law minister of independent India.

Morarji Desai , first non-Congress prime minister of India, Indira Gandhi , prime minister of India, , Rajiv Gandhi , prime minister of India, , son of Indira Gandhi. Sanjay Gandhi , Congress party politician, son of Indira Gandhi. Sonia Gandhi, , Congress party politician, wife of Rajiv Gandhi. Golwalker , leader of the Hindu radical organization the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh. Namboodiripad , the first Communist chief minister of an Indian state Kerala.

Jayaprakash Narayan , socialist and social worker known as JP. Jawaharlal Nehru , prime minister and foreign minister of India, , father of Indira Gandhi and grandfather of Rajiv and Sanjay Gandhi. Vallabhbhai Patel , , home minister and deputy prime minister of India, Phizo , Naga separatist leader. Chakravarti Rajagopalachari , first Indian governor general, and founder of the free-market Swatantra party.

Lal Bahadur Shastri , prime minister of India, Atal Behari Vajpayee , first non-Congress prime minister to complete a full term in office, For those that look interesting, find them and circle them in the text. Then keep a second book mark back in the notes section. Part V deals with the events of the last two decades, that is, with processes still unfolding. Rights view spoiler [ - Far from disappearing since Independence, caste continued to have a determining influence in and on Indian society.

The violence waxed and waned. By this definition, only two pogroms in independent India: But as of November , dire predictions have not come to pass. This attempt bore fruit after his death when Congress regained power at the Centre. Everywhere, one-third of the seats were reserved for women, with additional reservations for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. Atal Behari Vajpaye begins a six-year term as Prime Minister. In the second week of May India explodes five nuclear devices.

It is now a populist rather than a constitutional democracy. Changes and growth in specific sectors, and specific areas of the country. The strategy of economic development followed in the s was backed by a strong consensus. By contrast, the strategy adopted since the s has been subject to searing critique within and outside the political system. The debate is conducted between two schools, the "reformists" and the "populists", the vigorous arguments conducted in the press, in Parliament, on television, and in the streets.

Parsi, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, Christian exemplars in all aspects of film: Subanna and Habib Tanvir. Ravi Shankar, Ali Akbar Kahn. In achievement, India has excelled in billiards and field hockey; but in popularity football soccer and cricket dominate. Why India Survives view spoiler [ Just some quotes. In this manner, seventeen different scripts are represented.

They helped integrate the princely states, resettle the refugees, and plan and oversee the first general election.


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  • India has resisted pressures to go in the other direction, to follow Israel and Pakistan by favoring citizens who adhere to a certain faith or speak a particular language. It stands on its own, different and distinct from alternative political models such as Anglo-Saxon liberalism, French republicanism, atheistic communism, and Islamic theocracy.

    Guha was born at Dehra Dun, Uttar Pradesh. He graduated from St. Guha then moved to Bangalore, and began writing full-time. Guha, not yet sixty, continues writing, books, articles, tweets — you name it. His web site is http: Recent posts are mostly from The Telegraph and the Hindustan Times.

    The site has archives going back to , and a search engine. The Really Big One Random review: Grant Previous library review: Peace Not Apartheid Next library review: View all 18 comments. In , the Atlantic Monthly pitied India for having a democracy, when it might be better off as a military dictatorship. In , the same magazine thought this very democracy had been India's saving grace. It has often been said that India is a young nation, and a diverse one.

    We Indians have been told this in school and swallowed it without a question. On reading India after Gandhi, the depth of those adjectives sink in. View all 15 comments. Nov 07, S. We Indians mostly read history, reluctantly though, only in school. After that, the next dose of history comes from media in the form of debates and analysis.

    India After Gandhi: The History of the World's Largest Democracy

    This is mainly because of the aversion we develop during our history classes in school, courtesy the insipid and tedious nature of the school curriculum focusing on 'when and what' rather than 'why and how'. When I was in school, in the mids, our history lesson on I We Indians mostly read history, reluctantly though, only in school. When I was in school, in the mids, our history lesson on India ended with British leaving our country.

    What happened after that was never mentioned or discussed. So there has been a huge gap of almost 50 years in my knowledge about my own country from the time of independence to the time when I started reading newspapers zealously. This book fills that void. Having read this mammoth of book on the political history of post-independent India, I find myself much more informed about the present state of country than before.

    So, as far as knowledge on India is concerned, there is now two Mes. Me before "India after Gandhi" and Me after "India after Gandhi" This book recounts the events in the post-Independent India till the late 80s in chronological fashion as those unfold in a completely unbiased or un-opinionated tone, making it read like a political thriller than a scholarly work on History. The only other history book that had such pacy readability was "Freedom at Midnight". After the 80s the remaining events of the last three decades have taken shapes of essays or as the author calls those 'historically informed journalism'.

    The author believes that thirty-years is probably the right amount of time to pass before concluding any event to be an historical account. This book should be a mandatory reading in our high-school curriculum, if India is serious about building an informed generation to take her forward. View all 16 comments. Jan 22, Hadrian rated it really liked it Shelves: Sweeping history of India from its independence in to the early s.


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    • While Guha covers a broad range of topics He even includes an affectionate chapter on contemporary film and music , and tends to shy away from a formal argument as seen in a more formal academic work, his thesis would be on the continuing endurance of democracy in India. Guha is quick to praise the free press, an independent judiciary, the military remaining under civilian control, and the establishment of a wide range of political parties.

      Except for a month period of dictatorial rule in the late s called "The Emergency", the transitions of power have been relatively peaceful. That said, the Republic is not without its problems. The bureaucracy is slow and corrupt. Policies are confused and not always effective. The government has not always served as a fair mediator between religious factions.

      At its worst, it is complicit in mass violence, such as the rioting in Gujarat in It has not upheld minority rights. It has not done enough for the lower castes. E pur si muove. Guha marvels about how the state was even formed, despite the immense traumas of first the colonial period, then the Partition in , a state was somehow forged out of that and did not immediately dissolve into war.

      A constitution was established by The first elections were held in , with some one hundred seven million voters. Guha takes a generally positive look upon the founders of Indian democracy, but he lauds Jawaharlal Nehru most of all. There is much he can be credited with - first, preventing a breakdown in civil-military relations, second, his attempts to guarantee linguistic minorities - a truly democratic concession, despite his initial misgivings.

      He at least attempted to foster Hindu-Muslim unity, even though all of his successors continue to struggle with the same dilemmas. One of his greatest faults was a neglect of military preparedness, which led to the humiliating war with China in over the Himalayan border. The last chapter ends on a moment of hope. Guha, as a private citizen, is often frustrated with India.

      As a historian, he feels a sense of admiration and quiet optimism towards its future. Apr 19, Gorab Jain rated it really liked it Recommended to Gorab by: Now, I want to explore so much more. Such is the way IAG draws you in. Not just politics, albeit formation of India. Starting from drawing the constitution to uniting the states, origin and ideologies of emerging political parties Insights about partition, roots of Kashmir issue, Tibet, relations with Pak and China, picking a national language, Hindu Act, reservations, Naxalites, Maoists, Mizoram and Nagaland revolts In spite of India being centre stage, felt this book was about two protagonists - Nehru and Indira.

      And many parts didn't feel like history, rather current events and future predictions: Highly diplomatic stance on many issues. Quite understandable, but would have loved it more if it was not. Editing could have been crispier. Especially in the last part. Last 3 chapters were like gossiping with a friend.

      India After Gandhi: The History of the World's Largest Democracy by Ramachandra Guha

      Loved reading this gem. Thanks Aparna for reco and Arpit for BR and insightful discussions. Thank you so much Guha ji for infusing this knowledge about my country. I have become a fan and will follow more works by you. View all 10 comments.

      Midnight's citizens

      Having finally finished this massive book, I feel I know much more about India now. Some parts are a little boring, but mostly it is hugely interesting to witness the biggest democracy on earth unfold after One is left with the feeling that it is a true miracle that India is still relatively stable, has not sunk into civil war and chaos and is still a democracy, for all its problems. The book details the huge effort and labour it took to transform a colonized state and a very large one! Which political model to choose?

      How to incorporate all the small kingdoms? How to form a government, how to write a constitution? How to distribute millions of ballot boxes to rural areas? How to divide the country into districts? How to please everyone? It is fascinating to see how much of all this depended on few people, most notably Jawaharlal Nehru, an amazing politician, which I hadn't known before.

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      All the economic considerations and plans were also new to me, as were details of Indira Gandhi's and Rajiv Gandhi's governments. There is too little emphasis on popular, everyday culture for my taste, but at least there is a chapter on the Indian film industry. Apr 02, Jonfaith rated it really liked it Shelves: My own view — speaking as a historian rather than citizen — is that as long as Pakistan exists there will be Hindu fundamentalists in India.

      In times of stability, or when the political leadership is firm, they will be marginal or on the defensive. In times of change, or when the political leadership is irresolute, they will be influential and assertive. This sweeping history was a revelation. I feel as if I was simultaneously dazzled and lost. My chief response was a desire to read more both by My own view — speaking as a historian rather than citizen — is that as long as Pakistan exists there will be Hindu fundamentalists in India. My chief response was a desire to read more both by Nehru as well as about him.

      I pondered concepts like communalism all week and made comparisons with other places, other history. Nehru apparently once confessed to Andre Malraux that his greatest challenge was creating and maintaining a secular state in a religious country. It was interesting how in the Nixon biography I recently read much was made about how Nixon felt Nehru and Indira Gandhi looked down upon him, a grocer's son. Little of that surfaced here--which is appropriate when considering the grand grievances of Nixon. People have been predicating the doom of India since its Independence, some are now predicating that half of the nation is becoming California, the other half Chad.

      The resilient Indian embrace of democracy is the most encouraging, especially as across the world the institution appears to be falling from fashion. May 22, obh rated it it was amazing Shelves: No doubt such a commentary has not been written about India after its independence. Detailed and lucid this book is a treat to all those who are interested in the "idea of India".

      You will never be bored with this book. With all the surprises, the setbacks and, the pandemonium that is associated with Indian's freedom, we can surely say that democracy has not lost "India is no longer a constitutional democracy but a populist one" , this is one of the hard hitting ideas which this book puts forward.

      With all the surprises, the setbacks and, the pandemonium that is associated with Indian's freedom, we can surely say that democracy has not lost in India. It has become weak, but not lost. I can only hope that India becomes more secular, with poverty less pervasive and "where the mind is without fear and the head is held high". The biggest challenge to our democracy comes from within, in the form of corruption. Many tend to believe that ills like overpopulation, illiteracy, etc. I tend to think it's corruption. Last year we saw mass movements by groups led by apolitical people unified against corruption.

      Guha reminds us, more than once, that it's the historian's job to tell us what happened, and not spend too much time speculating on what might have. Yet it is precisely the possibility of what might have happened but didn't that gives an immediate but inexhaustible magic to some of the 20th century's most triumphal historical narratives. Both the American film-maker embarking on the new second world war movie and the Englishwoman wearing a poppy are thinking, yet again, of events that took place many years ago, but also, in some hidden but urgent way, of the world that might have come into existence had the other side won.

      Similarly, a "What if? Since , the possibility of disaster has taken the form of certain questions and crises: Guha tells us what happened elegantly, sometimes doggedly: Guha's book reminds us of what some other recent studies of India have been getting at, but without this civilised single-mindedness: Once this fact is acknowledged, its political and cultural consequences, I'm sure Guha will agree, need to be viewed with suspicion. Guha begins at the beginning, sketching the indeterminate setting for the project, with Nehru's poetic ruminations on India's "tryst with destiny" on the stroke of midnight.

      Has any modern politician's speech, except Churchill's wartime orations, had as much currency? Quickly, the demons of which the Indian psyche has still not exorcised itself appear: Then Partition, the original sin of our creation-myth, for which blame is apportioned to a variety of people - Jinnah, the British, Nehru, Gandhi - but more commonly to the ordinary Muslim citizen. There's the nightmare of Kashmir, a continual challenge to the moral high ground that India, with its public posture of post-colonial certitude and humanitarian dignity, has tried to occupy since independence.

      Guha also brings back to us, as he must, the border dispute with China, which led to a small war that India lost, with deep repercussions for the self-esteem of a generation of Indians. And yet, despite Kashmir, and various forms of governmental wrongdoing and blunders, the Indian middle class and intelligentsia, unlike their counterparts in Japan, England or Pakistan, have never really known what it means to inhabit a morally uneasy position. There's a mysterious surplus to being Indian, a feelgood element comparable only to the sense of self that Americans possessed until Vietnam.