Ramchandra Guha's magnum opus India after Gandhi is a well written chronicle of modern India after she gained independence and her progressive march along the conduits of democracy, secularism and economic stability. The book is divided in several chapters, chronologically arranged, presenting the events of independence, partition, formation of Governments, state reorganization, amalgamation of princely states, Kashmir issue, cold wars and non-alignment, cross border terrorism, wars, ethnic, linguistic and religious riots, assassinations, nuclear tests and India's rise as an economic super power.
Our own idea of a socio-cultural history of India generally ends with the cusp that had consummated with our independence and partition. But how things unfolded after that, especially when a nation had experienced the bitter taste of ethnic riots in time of its birth, was never told. Here we learn the events that shaped our fate as a nation-state and left indelible marks on our psyche forever. India's tryst with destiny, its cultural, religious, ethnic and regional plurality, its relationship with two ‘once upon a time’ super-powers, its failures in asserting border disputes with Pakistan and China and the serious reasons behind its survival as world's largest multiethnic democracy - all are presented for the readers who would like to extend the knowledge about our land and culture.
The author has successfully depicted the events with impeccable élan and probity. Mr. Guha is known for his penchant for the subject; but here his language and commentary add another dimension to the book as well. It lacks prolixity though it is permeated with numerous quotations from various sources, both inland and overseas. Never in this book has he tried to impose his own judgment or influence the readers to a particular doctrine. Sometimes few passages are redolent with his respect for Nehru and Patel, two stalwarts of post Independence India but that can be ignored as unintentional aberration.
The book has successfully captured the sundry affairs within its single volume. It may not serve as an encyclopedia of modern India, but as a ready reckoner, it is flawless. In the concluding chapters Mr. Guha has tried to find out the reasons behind India's success in sustaining the democratic pattern where its next door neighbors, Pakistan and China, have succumbed to a totalitarian form of Governance. The answers may not please all but the verity of the endeavor cannot be ignored.
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