India Since Independence

This book took a long time to finish, totally messed my whole schedule. The only reason I will say is – It got boring.

India Since Independence

By Bipan Chandra

Rating: 3/5

If you have studied in India then you must have read history textbooks in school. Bipan Chandra was one of the main author behind them. Check those books again guys & you will know who to blame for not-so-interesting history textbooks. Actually, I never liked history or social science per se (one of the reason for choosing Science stream).
If by chance you are preparing for UPSC exams – Bipan Chandra’s “India’s Struggle for Independence” & “India Since Independence” are must reads. You can only attempt GS mains questions correctly if you have read them (but NCERT XI & XII books will also do). The first book had much better narrative-type presentation of history than the second part. This one is boring at best, with many parts repeated. Though, I agree they are required in a textbook of history.

This huge book is not divided into any parts instead it has divided the history into different chapters as per the authors perception. Half of the book is in a continuous narrative. Right from the introduction to colonial legacy & nations socio-econo-political conditions since independence. The other half takes the case-studies of particular events & incidents related to regionalism,economic state, communal-ism, women-participation,social-stigmas,land reforms. The three chapters at the end are conclusions or summaries regarding the legacy & future of the Indian State in the 21st century.

First ten chapters takes the reader from the early years of independence to the various consolidation problems faced by the country. Next five chapters are dedicated to Nehru – from his Foreign policy to the political turmoil he faced.After that the remaining five chapters will pace you through the Indira years,JP movement,Janata govt & finally Rajiv Gandhi’s years.There is also short sections dedicated to the consequent NDA & UPA-1 govt. & their respective policies.

After completing the narrative since independence in one segment, the other issues are focused on. There is three chapters presenting case-studies for the regionalism tendency across the nation. Next four chapters focus on the Indian Economy- since Independence to the Millennium. Afterwards there are four chapters dedicated to Land-Reforms , followed by Agrarian movements. Then the rest of the chapters sheds light on the issues of communalism, Caste,Untouchability & Indian Women.

The books ends with overview of post-colonial Indian State & the political economy of development. There is also one chapter on Governance related issues. The final chapters provides the achievements,problems & prospects for India in the new Millennium.

I have already said- it gets boring after you finish the narrative. Because most of the later chapters deal with the already mentioned issues in detail – it gets repeated here again. The major dis-appointment was the writing style – one has to read it with focus or you will miss the points made. It gets too detailed at times. If you ask me a book for Indian history after Independence, I would prefer reading ‘India After Gandhi’ by Ramachandran Guha.

However, if you are preparing for UPSC – skipping this book is not an option. You have to read it, you can skip Guha’s book though.
Pick it up & review your history.

[It’s generally pointed out that Bipan Chandra is biased towards Congress. As per me – he tilts somewhat towards congress & presents the debated issues diplomatically. A person without any keen observation won’t find the tilt, but I am sure most of the right or left mindset people will get it]

Arigato. 🙂


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