The book has done nothing than creating the image of Gandhi family as larger than life The author like Ramchandra Guha tries to establish his hegemony over Indian history What he is saying that is right and what others are saying is absolutely wrong.
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 Reading History as an hobby comes to negligible percentage of people 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 mid 90s, our history lesson on India ended with British leaving our country What happened after that was never mentioned or discussed So I was completely ignorant of the names like Sheikh Abdullah , Jai Prakash Narayan or events of emergency and Operation Blue Star or the wars India fought with her neighbours 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 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.
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 After Gandhi Is A Breathtaking Chronicle Of The Brutal Conflicts That Have Rocked A Giant Nation And The Extraordinary Factors That Have Held It Together 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 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 Guha s closing wordsAcknowledgements thanksI first want to thank my many Indian friends who, actively or passively, have recommended this book to me The first two wrote glowing reviews of the book, and all the others rated it highly Lit Bug Sujeet Riku Sayuj Praj Megha Aniruddh Sai Kishore Dhandayutha Sumirti Singaravel Rohan Santhosh Thanks to you all short reviewJune 2015 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 that they wouldn t be able to govern themselves, that there were too many divisions in the country, that it couldn t possibly survive as a single country the diversities in the country caste, class, religion, language were so immense, people were writing in the 40s and 50s and later that it was less likely to survive than would be Europe if Europe became a single country 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 I suddenly understand that there is some sort of miracle involved in this country s post colonial history.
o o o o o o oDecember 2016 And now, 18 months later, I ve read the last word of this fascinating bookEighteen months , you say Well, I ve struggled to read probably 60 other books during those eighteen months But whenever I picked up his book to read another chapter or two, there was no struggle involved, rather pure pleasure.
And when finally done, having read the Acknowledgments, read or scanned every one of the hundreds of endnotes occupying over ninety pages during the read , I thought this must be close to the best history book I d ever read.
longer reviewThe bookPRINCIPAL CHARACTERS Following the Table of Contents Guha presents a Cast of Principal Characters The list view spoiler I think these are the most significantSheikh Mohammed Abdullah 1905 1982 , Kashmiri leader and politician.
R Ambedkar 1892 1956 , leader of the low castes and first law minister of independent India.
Morarji Desai 1896 1995 , first non Congress prime minister of India, 1977 1980.
Indira Gandhi 1917 1984 , prime minister of India, 1966 1977, 1980 1984.
Monhandas K Gandhi, also known has Mahatma Gandhi 1869 1948 , commonly regarded as the Father of the Nation, no relation to Indira, Rajiv, or Sanjay Gandhi.
Rajiv Gandhi 1945 1991 , prime minister of India, 1984 1989, son of Indira Gandhi.
Sanjay Gandhi 1946 1980 , Congress party politician, son of Indira Gandhi.
Sonia Gandhi, 1946 , Congress party politician, wife of Rajiv Gandhi.
S Golwalker 1906 1973 , leader of the Hindu radical organization the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh.
S Namboodiripad 1909 1998 , the first Communist chief minister of an Indian state Kerala.
Jayaprakash Narayan 1902 1979 , socialist and social worker known as JP.
Jawaharlal Nehru 1889 1964 , prime minister and foreign minister of India, 1947 1964, father of Indira Gandhi and grandfather of Rajiv and Sanjay Gandhi.
Vallabhbhai Patel, 1875 1950 , home minister and deputy prime minister of India, 1947 1950.
Z Phizo 1913 1991 , Naga separatist leader.
Chakravarti Rajagopalachari 1878 1972 , first Indian governor general, and founder of the free market Swatantra party.
Lal Bahadur Shastri 1902 1966 , prime minister of India, 1964 1966.
Atal Behari Vajpayee 1924 , first non Congress prime minister to complete a full term in office, 1998 2004 hide spoiler Sweeping history of India from its independence in 1947 to the early 2000s 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 formal academic work, his thesis would be on the continuing endurance of democracy in India After the colonial period, India was poor, composed of some three hundred million people, with a literacy rate of 12%, with five hundred different polities and yet it formed a functional democracy out of all this 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 21 month period of dictatorial rule in the late 1970s 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 2002 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 1947, a state was somehow forged out of that and did not immediately dissolve into war A constitution was established by 1950 The first elections were held in 1952, 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 1962 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.
In 1959, the Atlantic Monthly pitied India for having a democracy, when it might be better off as a military dictatorship In 1999, 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.
Unfortunately the book is extremely underwhelming for those who have than passing interest in political history of India It is consistently biased in favor of a Nehruvian Congress Leftist Marxist viewpoint Guha s hero worship of Nehru, a leader with many flaws, is also less than neutral He also sweeps under the floor the history of corruption in India since independence Mr Guha is partial toward First Prime minister Mr Nehru and never criticize him at any moment and over this writer is trying to save Nehru from any such side Nehru is venerated like a god by writer You will find half of book dedicated to nehru and as a fan on Nehru writer give his super human abilities of solving everything.
All the events described will be in and around congress and its activists I think historians shouldn t do such kind of things Glorification of INC is the main propaganda of this book and hence lacks a balanced view needed for any keen history student They should describe the events in an unbiased manner and leave the opinion to readers Instead, in the whole book you find the authors opinion on how congress struggle or manage India Few great people are just mentioned by name in some incidences and not about their contribution Even state parties also contributed towards India.
Since Mr Guha has dedicated a large chunk of the book to the political lives of Indira Gandhi and Nehru, I would ve like to have been informed of the implications of their policy decisions he does touch on some and also their failings Nehru s in particular Not saying that I think Nehru was a failure, but Id have liked to have heard a mock debate between the pro and anti Nehru factions as well as the pro and anti Gandhi factions There was no defense of these giants of the country which makes sense since there were no real criticisms presented in the book Even if the author felt no criticism was warranted, he could have addressed the criticisms of other writers thinkers This is the least he could have done for Nehru who he obviously admires.
No time devoted to the financial world and the industrial world and the world of the Indian scams Ambani the entrepreneur and rule breaker, Harshad Mehta, the fodder scam etc barely get a mention No mention of indigenous Indian governmental scheme s for the various reforms There are some big holes in the book Even details on wars was not properly mentioned The chapters on PV Narasimha Rao, Vajpayee primarily deal with Secularism issues totally ignoring the strides India made in Economy, Foreign policy, Defense etc during their era Millions of Indians including me owe our jobs to PVN s economic policies If India has finally emerged as a force to reckon with, it is primarily due to the economic policies of PVN and Vajpayee governments It is truly astonishing that the impact the new policies have had on lifting millions of Indians out of poverty over the last two decades is not given the importance it deserves in the book Even foreign economists like Robert Shiller who called PVN India s Deng Xio Peng The author buries the legacy of PVN and Vajpayee in the issue of secularism There are so many things to point out but i don t have that much time to mentioned all that here These kind of books set bad precedent Even you can see this book have high ratings As another reviewer has said, one should remind Guha the words of the great historian R C Majumdar, who reiterated that The aim of history is to solely tell the truth, by conscientious finding it out without any respect for individual or communities But India after Gandhi is dishonest history there is no objectivity and Guha seems interested to propagandize his readers than to present a neutral book.
Read it to know one side of the coin No one book or may be any at all will ever completely articulate the other side of the coin Even an extremely biased and opinionated book like this cannot spin it well to lead the readers to the authors point of view Highly disappointed I don t want to recommend it.
4 I was least interested aware about Indian politics before picking this book Now, I want to explore so much 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 revoltsIn 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 Why not 5 1 Diplomatic Highly diplomatic stance on many issues Quite understandable, but would have loved it if it was not.
2 Editing could have been crispier Especially in the last part Last 3 chapters were like gossiping with a friend Slightly disappointed.
Loved reading this gem Thanks Aparna for reco and Arpit for BR and insightful discussions.
Overall Thank you so much Guha ji for infusing this knowledge about my country I have become a fan and will follow works by you.
Indians are better speakers than listeners, and Indian politicians especially soThere probably never will be a completely satisfying book about India but this one really far exceeded what I could have expected In here is no talk about the Hindu way of life thank you Naipaul or other vague expressions and generalizations like that There is, in fact, the very opposite, a great diversity of voices looking at the subjects from different perspectives At a few times, I didn t agree with author s conclusions view spoiler I think, for example, it was a wrong sort of politeness that made Nehru government to settle for less than a common civil code and exempt Muslims from marital and inheritance reform laws hide spoiler 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 India has 1.
2 billion people, 22 official languages, a mixture of religions including the second largest Muslim population making up 20% of its society and yet is one of the most successful secular democracies in the world 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.