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

4.31 of 5 stars 4.31  ·  rating details  ·  6,142 ratings  ·  503 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 ...more
Hardcover, 893 pages
Published July 24th 2007 by Ecco Press (first published April 20th 2007)
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28th out of 569 books — 1,635 voters
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1st out of 104 books — 68 voters

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Community Reviews

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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
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
"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
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
M a y a
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
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
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 Tyagi
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
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
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
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
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
Sailen Dutta
"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
Sandeepan Mondal
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
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
Rajat Ubhaykar
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 nation-state of In ...more
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
Tom Nixon
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
Stuti Gurtoo
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
Anugrah Nagaich
"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"
Going by what the previous reviewers have said, I personally started to feel the same while reaching mid-way through my reading. This fantastic book packs in it the comprehensive account of the country & its challenges post the independence, in a clearcut
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
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
Bookmarks Magazine

Historian Ramachandran Guha, the author of Environmentalism: A Global History (1999) and The Unquiet Woods (1989), among others, and a current resident of Bangalore, writes of what he knows. Weighing in at nearly 900 pages, India After Gandhi successfully clarifies the convoluted history and contradictions of the world's second most populous nation. That Guha leaves questions unanswered in a book of this scope, as one critic asserts, might be considered nit-picking. To be sure, the author does c

Snehal Bhagat
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
Vinod Khare
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.
Rahul Ranjan
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
Phani Chand
Mar 11, 2012 Phani Chand rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Phani Chand by: Kodali
Most of out history text books stops at the line "India got independence in 1947" and "Gandhi was assassinated in 1948". To know exactly what has happened after that ,read this book. Merging princely states,drafting the constitution,Indo-China war,Indo-Pak wars,first elections of free india,secessionist movements, dividing the country on basis of language, communism.socialism..... so on.

An extensive research has to be appreciated to share facts ( See the notes at the end of the book). This book
Awesome book!! A must read for ppl interested in understanding india at present be it politically/socially/economically. It throws good light over well known issues like Kashmir, Pakistan, Wars with neighbours as well as lesser known issues of North-east, Emergency, effort gone into uniting India after Independence etc. Rightly named "India after Gandhi"
Sriram S
A must read, for every Indian.

One of the most politically unbiased books. The best part of the book is that, there are lots of quotes from the statesmen and the newspapers, verbatim, which gives the reader an idea of what really were the sentiments those days. Definitely worth reading
Ashish Kotha
A must read for everbody intrested in India...........Last chapter though disappoints

A time in india that our history books never cared to cover though being more relevant to us than the story of kings and their battles
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Read Runners: India After Gandhi 72 43 Jul 24, 2014 11:24PM  
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  • India Unbound: The Social and Economic Revolution from Independence to the Global Information Age
  • The Wonder That Was India: A Survey of the History and Culture of the Indian Sub-Continent before the coming of the Muslims
  • India: A History
  • The Argumentative Indian: Writings on Indian History, Culture and Identity
  • The Discovery of India
  • Everybody Loves a Good Drought: Stories from India's Poorest Districts
  • India's Struggle for Independence
  • Imagining India: The Idea of a Renewed Nation
  • The Last Mughal: The Fall of a Dynasty: Delhi, 1857
  • The Penguin History of Early India: From the Origins to Ad 1300: Volume 1
  • India: From Midnight to the Millennium and Beyond
  • Freedom at Midnight
  • The Idea of India
  • The Great Partition: The Making of India and Pakistan
  • The Mughal Throne: The Saga of India's Great Emperors
  • Indira: The Life of Indira Nehru Gandhi
  • Empires of the Indus: The Story of a River
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” 11 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” 10 likes
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