Thursday, May 15, 2014

Book Review: India After Gandhi

Title: India After Gandhi
Author: Ramachandra Guha
Genre: History
Publisher: Picador India
Rating: 9/10

Recently I finished reading this book. It is a must read for every Indian at least. Most of the history books, we have read so far, depict history only till the death of Gandhi. Not many tell about what happened after that mighty tree fell. This book clarifies all of those doubts. On most of the parts the writing is unbiased. Though, for a few parts I felt it chastised BJP and the Left more vigorously than Congress.

Many would feel that the book might be from the viewpoint of a Gandhi follower and it would be full of prejudices. The only thing to increase the credibility of the book and square off the doubts of the critics is the 95 page note at the end of the book containing the references to all the periodicals, newspaper reports, magazines, secondary accounts, primary interviews, scholarly articles, interview transcripts and other sources the author has referred while writing this masterpiece.

Ramachandra Guha has very cleverly arranged the book chronologically starting with the Nehru Period, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Indira regime, the much controversial emergency of 70's, brief regime of Janata Party, Operation Bluestar, death of Indira Gandhi, emergence of the hitherto apolitical Rajiv Gandhi, the Bofors scandal, liberalization of 1991 and so on so forth. All the important incidents like bringing the princely states under the Union of India, state reorganization based on linguistic premises, struggle of the minorities and backward castes, continuous insurgencies in Kashmir, Nagaland and Punjab, the evolution of planning commission through the years, passing a bill about Hindu marriage overriding the hitherto archaic one, foreign policy regarding USA China USSR Pakistan and Sri Lanka, unnumbered famines & religious riots, liberation of Bangladesh, the war with China in 1962, secessionist movements in Kashmir Valley and Nagaland and a lot other things are sprinkled evenly throughout the book based on the time-frame and regime it fell under.

Apart from the enriching information given in the book, one other thing that is sure going to sway you off your feet is its rich literary value. With such delicate use of the English language the book surely creates an aura of urgency inside even the ones who don't like to read novels much. After completing this piece of work, the gaps and confusion of the reader regarding the formation of world's largest democracy will surely fade away.