Answer by Anirudh Acharya:
A good compilation of post independence Indian history by Ramachandra Guha. It also gives a good perspective to understand present day India. The book is rich in detail and the writing style of Guha is brilliant and makes the book a very interesting read. But at a few places Guha does compromise objectivity in favour of Nehru, especially in his telling about Nehru’s grand centralized socialist economy and his foreign policy of Non-Aligned movement(.) both of which are more or less proven wrong in retrospect( NAM not so much).
In short, the pros of the book –
- The period between 1947 and 1950, the making of the constitution and the consolidation of the princely states was very well covered. It could have been made better by covering in more detail Ambedkar’s contribution,and his story and how he came to be in the Constituent Assembly in the first place. This part of the book makes the whole book worth reading.
- The reordering of the states on linguistic lines and Potti Sriramulu’s battle.
the cons of the book are –
- The author has hardly written about Indian politics since Rajiv Gandhi’s time. Guha goes off on a tangent about the role of cricket, Bollywood and other cultural events. Nothing gets spoken about the liberalization of 1991, the effect of the collapse of the Berlin Wall on India, Pokhran nuclear tests, the Bofors scam etc.. The events that take place after 1985 have been given very little space in the book.( I personally think that this was done because it becomes impossible to tell India’s tale beyond 1985 without pointing out the many mistakes made by Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, which the author seems very reluctant to do)
- Should have covered the period of emergency and the Janata Party’s first non-congress government that followed in more detail.
- A certain amount of objectivity would have been good while discussing Nehru’s policies and his five year plans in the 1950s and the events that led up to the Indo-China war.
Another similar book which I have not read but intend to is Bipin Chandra’s. I hear the book covers post 1990 events in more detail, should check it out.
But overall the book is well written and definitely worth a read( a couple of reads actually).