India After Gandhi: The History Of The World's Largest Democracy (English) (Paperback) review by
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A great work on modern Indian History
We Gen Y live in a modern India which has been transformed immeasurably from our parents time, but are ignorant of the events and personalities that changed our destiny as a nation. Our independence struggle is well known and is taught in detail in most school syllabuses (albeit with some biases as to magnify contributions of some actors and diminish others). So it is clearly perceptible that we know a lot about our freedom struggle and story of our independence from British. But as a Science student with interest in modern Indian history (my reading was confined to the school texts), deep questions related to partition of India, impulses that drove Nehru to a socialist doctrine in 50s and 60s, back stories of the four wars that India fought, the air of idealism and hope that permeated India in 50's only to pave way for disillusionment and rise of trade unionism & workers movements in a very corrupt 70s and reason for the failure of democracy in the emergency period in India etc were only vaguely understood or appreciated. There were multitude of separatist movements, ideology changes of governments, but still India survived as a democracy. We fail to appreciate the magnitude of this fact in a relatively calm 90s and 2000s. I wanted a definitive book which could help me identify the modern Indian and his identity in greater detail.
This lack of knowledge in our immediate history forced me to search for good books to read and my choice of this book was the most apt one. This book straddles a veritable mix of very accessible narrative history of India post 1947 and a well referenced book of events and its analysis for the serious reader. A simple story like narrative fails to do justice to the multifaceted course of Indian state post independence. Chapter organization is fairly chronological, but anachronistic musings are interspersed between which help make the narrative clear in a larger context. Press photos capture the historic moments perfectly. Guha's liberalist retelling of our shared history is a must read for any educated Indian curious enough to know story of their and their parents generation.
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