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India After Gandhi: The History of the World's Largest Democracy

4.34  ·  Rating Details ·  9,557 Ratings  ·  762 Reviews

A magisterial account of the pains, the struggles, the humiliations, and the glories of the world's largest and least likely democracy, Ramachandra Guha's India After Gandhi is a breathtaking chronicle of the brutal conflicts that have rocked a giant nation and the extraordinary factors that have held it together. An intricately researched and elegantly written epic histor

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Paperback, Indian edition, 898 pages
Published 2008 by Picador (first published April 20th 2007)
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Kali Srikanth
"If you do not know where you come from, then you don't know where you are, and if you don't know where you are, then you don't know where you're going. And if you don't know where you're going, you're probably going wrong.
— Terry Pratchett"

India is world's largest but least likely democracy. But how it still survives?

To me, Indian history always meant what happened till 1947 (year of Independence) or perhaps my knowledge expands one little year further till Gandhiji's death. I was kept in the d
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Bob Foulkes
Just before a 3 week trip to India, I asked an acquaintance for the best book to read to help me gain perspective on this incredible country. India after Ghandi was his instantaneous recommendation. This is the perfect travelling companion for anyone who wishes to understand this great country. India has 1.2 billion people, 22 official languages, a mixture of religions including the second largest Muslim population making up 20% of its society and yet is one of the most successful secular democr ...more
Vipassana
Aug 06, 2015 Vipassana rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Indian millennials.
In 1959, the Atlantic Monthly pitied India for having a democracy, when it might be better off as a military dictatorship. In 1999, the same magazine thought this very democracy had been India's saving grace.
It has often been said that India is a young nation, and a diverse one. We Indians have been told this in school and swallowed it without a question. On reading India after Gandhi, the depth of those adjectives sink in.
Katrin
Aug 12, 2011 Katrin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having finally finished this massive book, I feel I know much more about India now. Some parts are a little boring, but mostly it is hugely interesting to witness the biggest democracy on earth unfold after 1949. One is left with the feeling that it is a true miracle that India is still relatively stable, has not sunk into civil war and chaos and is still a democracy, for all its problems. The book details the huge effort and labour it took to transform a colonized state (and a very large one!) ...more
obh
Oct 04, 2012 obh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, indian-ism
"India is no longer a constitutional democracy but a populist one", this is one of the hard hitting ideas which this book puts forward. No doubt such a commentary has not been written about India after its independence. Detailed and lucid this book is a treat to all those who are interested in the "idea of India". You will never be bored with this book.
With all the surprises, the setbacks and, the pandemonium that is associated with Indian's freedom, we can surely say that democracy has not lost
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Sujeet
Apr 11, 2015 Sujeet rated it it was amazing
We Indians mostly read history, reluctantly though, only in school. After that, the next dose of history comes from media in the form of debates and analysis. "Reading History" as an hobby comes to negligible percentage of people. This is mainly because of the aversion we develop during our history classes in school, courtesy the insipid and tedious nature of the school curriculum focusing on 'when and what' rather than 'why and how'.

When I was in school, in the mid-90s, our history lesson on I
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Tamara
It's a slightly strange genre, these giant histories of the present. Comparing to the other two i've read - The Fate of Africa: A History of Fifty Years of Independence and Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945 - this one takes the cake for sheer human scope: India just has more people than either Europe or Africa. This kind of thing is inevitably always only a skimming of the surface, even if it is 900 pages long. The point would have to be to find some shape to that surface, some grasping to ...more
M
Aug 29, 2011 M rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An excellent, thorough history of modern India, post-independence.

The first half, covering the decades under PM Nehru and the drafting of the Indian Constitution, is really inspiring. Nehru was an idealist who believed in social change; he worked with B.R. Ambedkar, an Untouchable who was the primary draftsman of the constitution, to keep India as a secular state and to overturn the caste system. Nehru also worked to protect minority groups such as women and Muslims, to create an economic and so
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Rajat Ubhaykar
Feb 23, 2016 Rajat Ubhaykar rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, india, history
Lest we begin taking the existence of India for granted. In this book, Ramachandra Guha takes on the difficult job of instilling a reasonable degree of patriotism in your average armchair skeptic without resorting to India-Pakistan jingoism or sanctimoniously reminding us of our glorious ancient history. He succeeds magnificently by furnishing an insightful post-independence (albeit Nehruvian) narrative history of India that sheds light on the unprecedented miracle that is the Indian nation-stat ...more
Abhishek Srivastava
A very comprehensive history of modern India, and it's surprisingly interesting and gripping given that it is a historical record. A must read for any one who wants to know how modern India came to be, esp. for those of us who were not born when we were not the fast developing nation we are today. Some of the descriptions and narratives are very transcending. They make you fell nostalgic of an event even when you never were there in the first place. It makes you proud and sad and excited and ash ...more
Viplove
Jan 30, 2014 Viplove rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Never has history been told in such colour and with such emotion. Rightly deserves to be called Guha's masterpiece.
A book that takes you through the fight of a young nation against the veritable elements threatening secularism, its dangerous but nevertheless great gamble with democracy, its idealist argument against the more realist one for alignment, its parenthood falling from that of great men of integrity to mortals with vanity, and the rise of populism on the price of constitutional democr
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Anirudh
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( India and the Non-Aligned Movement.) both of wh ...more
Stuti Gurtoo
May 07, 2013 Stuti Gurtoo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Interesting. Covers a lot of ground in post-independence India. He has presented facts and quotes and tried to be as unbiased as possible with a very lucid style of writing. But I'd direct the reader to India Unbound by Gurcharan Das as well, without which this book seems incomplete as it mainly covers the political aspects of history. India Unbound is a much more practical and colourful account of the socioeconomic scene of the same period told in a much more personal (hence, relatable) fashion ...more
Nikunj
Feb 04, 2012 Nikunj rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For us Indians, the history usually end with the Independence Day i.e. Aug 15, '47 or more specifically when Mahatma Gandhi died on Oct 30, '48. But what about the events after that, that rocked us and shaped our destiny, of what and who we are today. The greatest experiment in democracy deserve an equal credit to share its story of ups and downs and what it has become as of today.

India After Gandhi is the book that bridges this gap by providing a first rate account of the various people that pa
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Kirti
Jul 11, 2016 Kirti rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In this book, Dr. Guha has emanated out the true picture of how diversity has acted as a catalyst as well as a deterrent in shaping the history and future of world's largest democracy. The book is a comprehensive description of the time of India's birth and growth. At every point a reader can make comparison between then and now. However, the biggest question that the book raises is- "What could have been?"

A reader may realize that how the lives of 1.2 billion people today have been affected by
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Sidharth Vardhan
“Indians are better speakers than listeners, and Indian politicians especially so.”

There probably never will be a completely satisfying book about India but this one really far exceeded what I could have expected. In here is no talk about the ‘Hindu way of life’ (thank you Naipaul) or other vague expressions and generalizations like that. There is, in fact, the very opposite, a great diversity of voices looking at the subjects from different perspectives.

At a few times, I didn’t agree with au
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Sailen Dutta
Aug 18, 2015 Sailen Dutta rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
"India After Gandhi" is a monumental effort by Ramachandra Guha, and he does justice to it, considering the fact that it is a single volume. It requires mammoth skill to present facts in an unbiased manner, of the largest democracy of the world. As Guha rightly says, our knowledge of the Indian history ends at independence mostly. Very few of our generation know the history of the nation after Independence. I hope this book is the first in many books to fill this void.
I am no scholar or intellec
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Muthu Raj
Jan 01, 2016 Muthu Raj rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone who wants a non-partisan approach to Contemporary India
Shelves: classy, owned
As I set to type this review, I also seriously consider not doing so, on account of my naivete. In all fairness, I am new to this genre and this book had been lying around for more than a year in my shelf, till I started reading it after I had finished some 100 odd pages in a friend's copy.

I have not read any other book that was so dense as this and yet so well-paced. The amount of information in each page is staggering. The only book I know that has more footnotes than this is, perhaps, the Inf
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Tom Nixon
Aug 20, 2013 Tom Nixon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There are history books that are interesting yet interminable and then there are history books that capture you with the eloquence of the author's passion and writing and the sheer volume of material that is both compelling and captivating. Happily, Ramachandra Guha's well paced and fantastic book chronicling the nearly seven decades of the history of post-independence India falls into the latter category and although it's a doorstop of a book, it's a glorious, glorious doorstop that I was hones ...more
Simon Wood
Jan 14, 2014 Simon Wood rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
INDIA AND INDEPENDENCE

Ramachandra Guha has written a straightforward narative of the experience of India since Independence in 1947. The focus is primarily on political events but not at the expense of trying to get a view of the bigger picture.

I wouldnt consider it a great book of analysis, but as an introduction to post independence India it is more than adequate. Many colourful characters populate this history, this most admirable being Nehru himself, unfortunately a Hindu extremist knocked
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Sandeepan Mondal
May 30, 2013 Sandeepan Mondal rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ramachandra Guha clearly brings out the problems and issues faced by the then independent India and thereafter in a lucid and objective manner. What impressed me most was the succinct description of class, caste, regional and religious issues faced by an independent India without exemplifying his own prejudices. I was struck with wonder and excitement at the vision and idealism of our leaders and the effort expended by them to make India a prominent nation among nations. I was also impressed by ...more
Pranav
Aug 09, 2016 Pranav rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't know what qualities a good history book should possess, I'm no expert. Despite this, this book remains one of the most entertaining reads that I've had a chance to indulge in.

My respect for some of the founding members has grown manifold, independent of whether I agree with their policies. Indian TV and cinema (which by the way, is also touched upon in the book!) has a reputation for dramatisation and sensationalism. I'm pretty sure that they are influenced by some of the amazing gift-o
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Rahul Ranjan
Nov 15, 2014 Rahul Ranjan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I purchased this book because I has read numerous reviews of how impartial the author has been in treating the subject. This book has been an eye opener like no other. The sheer volume of information and insight, has changed my perspective on the Republic of India.
Crisply written, and at times quite scathing in its remarks, the book is a brilliant account of our history. The author has criticised and praised Nehru on different viewpoints, a trait not common in Indian literature.
This book is a m
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Kodali
Oct 03, 2010 Kodali rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is not about fictional story, detective adventures or some high funda philosophy. It is about the history of India after Independence. As quoted by the author "For many of us the history will end on mid night of 15th August,1947". This books takes you through the labor pains of Indian state before independence,the early death of it's father Gandhi, The steps it took under it's guardian Nehru, the age of adolescence in 60's, the mid-life crisis in 90's and so on.

It tries to answer some
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Tim
This is a superb book. In clear, measured prose, Indian polymath Ramachandra Guha (author of other excellent books on topics as diverse as cricket and environmentalism) outlines and explains the complicated political, economic, diplomatic, environmental, military and cultural factors which have transformed the India of 1947, newly independent and riven by Partition, into the India of today. The book is particularly strong on the ways in which democracy has taken root in India. It's long - my edi ...more
Vinod Khare
Jul 15, 2014 Vinod Khare rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
So after several months, I've finally managed to complete this book. Guha's tome is extensive but also very rewarding. It is essential to grasping how modern India came to be and to obtain a deeper understanding of the social and political issues faced by the country today. It is also a reminder of the immense breadth and diversity of the country. As I was finishing this book, I felt genuinely and truly proud of being and Indian.
Snehal Bhagat
May 07, 2011 Snehal Bhagat rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Once upon a time, children, in a land far, far away, there lived an emperor who was something of a nudist. His subjects knew he wore so little by choice and so he was much admired. But popular as he was, he hadn't always been the emperor, and had only been raised to the throne after he led a successful revolt against a previous empire.

The land had always been a land of empires and an attractive destination for migrant peoples and conquerors alike for as long as anybody could remember. For a hig
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Andrew
India After Gandhi: The History of the World's Largest Democracy, by Ramachandra Guha, is a deep and fascinating examination of the world's most populous democracy from the death of Gandhi to 2008. The book begins by examining the fracturing of the Indian National Congress, with Pakistan and India splitting into two nation states. This led to a massive influx of internal refugee movements, and widespread violence between Muslim, Hindu and Sikh communities. It is estimated more than one million p ...more
Vamsi Krishna
History is simply fascinating, especially if it’s about the biggest experiment of democracy done on India in 1947. Finally finished reading this massive book (it’s around 900 pages). It gives a magisterial account of the events occurred in India since independence till the late 90’s and early 2000’s. It captures the immediate aftermath of independence, challenges faced by the new nation in the early years, redrawing of the Indian Map on linguistic lines, consolidation of power by Nehru, wars wit ...more
Raghu
Nov 27, 2007 Raghu rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This work is unique in that it is the first book I have read that takes such a comprehensive look at all that has happened in India after 1947. More importantly, it puts all the major events and personalities superbly in perspective through extensive research and a critical but compassionate eye. In short, it is a splendid piece of work on contemporary Indian history and is a must read for all with a deep interest in India.

The book deals with the positives as well as the negatives of the past y
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Refugee situation in Bengal is not discussed properly 1 7 Jun 01, 2016 04:31AM  
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Ramachandra Guha was born in Dehradun in 1958, and educated in Delhi and Calcutta. He has taught at the University of Oslo, Stanford, and Yale, and at the Indian Institute of Science. He has been a Fellow of the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, and also served as the Indo-American Community Chair Visiting Professor at the University of California at Berkeley.

After a peripatetic academic career, with
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“What is now in the past was once in the future” 24 likes
“So long as the Constitution is not amended beyond recognition, so long as elections are held regularly and fairly and the ethos of secularism broadly prevails, so long as citizens can speak and write in the language of their choosing, so long as there is an integrated market and a moderately efficient civil service and army, and — lest I forget — so long as Hindi films are watched and their songs sung, India will survive” 19 likes
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