I am reading Non-fiction books now, most of them are Text-book type of material. Earlier I thought of not reviewing them, but now, I will both review them & comment on there utility from the viewpoint of the competitive exam.(UPSC here)
INDIA after Gandhi: The History of the World’s Largest Democracy
By Ramachandra Guha
Ramachandra Guha is already an esteemed historian and an author. This book is being bought in frenzy by UPSC examinees , all thanks to the changed course of Mains exam and recommendation from the IAS coaching students. However, I picked it up for dual purpose of UPSC prep and for reading Guha. Already read through most of his work, this one was missing from the list. As far, the best one still is the ‘ Difficulty of Being Good’.
About this one: as the tagline & the name suggests, it is an insightful work on the history of India after the Freedom was won by Indian people.The chapters move swiftly with a narrative style, pointing out the milestones & road-blocks faced by the nation.
The book is divided into five parts.The first three parts belong to Nehru , part fourth to the later years and the last part is a summation of the various changes since independence.
First & Second part deals with the Idea of India in the sub-continent. The various forces of cohesion & secession working across the diverse geography of the country. How the leaders came to decision on complex & important issues while composing the biggest constitutional text in the world. Adding to their trouble the various princely states, faction leaders, tribals, religious riots. To even imagine how they were dealing with all these factors is enthralling at the least.
After establishing the India’s identity in the world-map, there were myriad internal & external aggression like Pakistan’s insurgency,Chinese insurgency, formation of separate state, creation of Tribal autonomous states, Rights of lower & destitute section of society and many more. The whole time the world being critical of existence of Democracy in India. One may say the issues were not best handled and mistakes were done. But the present we inhabit is because of those efforts and we should be thankful to them.The third part deals with the above factors.
The fourth part is where India seems to force its Strength & dominance position, all thanks to Indira Gandhi. Though, we all understand the effect of her transgressions whose price we are still paying. This part can invoke passionate & varied feelings in a group. So, I wouldn’t go further into it. For the last part as I said – it presents the summary of the eras gone by. There is also a whole chapter dedicated to the entertainment of Indian people(read Cinema). After all, it do shares a major part of societies reformation & ill-wills.
I thought the text may be biased towards the Congress regime. On the contrary I found it balanced in approach. All the angles were tried to be presented in the chapters. Well, you yourself is the best judge on that.
Finally, for the students who want to read it for examination point of view. Go through this book as an introduction to the history after independence. One will need more solid material to write answers in mains. This text needs to be supplemented by some text-book.
So, pick this huge 750 page narration of Indian History. One must have knowledge about the path one’s nation took to be standing at the present position.