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Half - Lion: How P.V. Narasimha Rao Transformed India

4.39  ·  Rating details ·  1,131 ratings  ·  160 reviews
When P.V. Narasimha Rao became the unlikely prime minister of India in 1991, he inherited a nation adrift, violent insurgencies, and economic crisis. Despite being unloved by his people, mistrusted by his party, and ruling under the shadow of 10 Janpath, Rao transformed the economy and ushered India into the global arena.

With exclusive access to Rao’s never-before-seen
Kindle Edition, 362 pages
Published June 27th 2016 by Viking
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Vikrant Rana
Jul 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
I distincly remember loathing PVN during my growing years, mainly because he gave an impression of a non decisive leader. Over the last decade, as we came to know more about him inspite of all the efforts of the dynasty that still plagues India, that perception has changed and thats an understatement.
Undoubtedly PVN (along with AB Vajpayee remain the finest PMs that India has produced. It always amaze me how Indian polity is able to propel the best to the top, inspite of it's vastness, all the
Oct 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
The biggest drawback of any biographical work is that it tends to gloss over the faults of the subject, presenting a flawless picture. For the most part, this book calls a spade a spade. Credit where credit is due, and criticism where it is due. PVNR has been a fascinating figure in Indian History. This is a well-researched and well-documented book, and I highly recommend it.
Sajith Kumar
Oct 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pamulaparti Venkata Narasimha Rao (1921 – 2004) was the first Indian prime minister outside the Nehru family who had lasted a full term in office. He assumed office at a time of great upheaval not only in India but abroad too. Kashmir and Punjab were rife with militancy and LTTE cadres were treading roughshod over Tamil Nadu as part of their insurgency in Sri Lanka. The country’s foreign exchange reserves were at the very bottom of the pit. Its long term ally, the Soviet Union, was visibly ...more
Ashok Krishna
Jun 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wish I could rate this book with more than 6 stars!
Vishaka Datta
Aug 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I was less than a year old when Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated, and a week away from turning two when the 24 July 1991 budget that dismantled decades of industrial policy was announced. And I have very hazy memories of staring up at an old television screaming about the then worst electoral defeat of the Congress party, and the ascension of Vajpayee as the prime minister.

I was, however, old enough to remember the controversy over the humiliation Rao endured even in death, where his ashes were
Umesh Kesavan
Jul 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
The book tries to answer the intriguing question "How could the head of a minority government with so little leeway achieve so much in terms of economic reforms and foreign policy?".The book combines political philosophy with rigorous research to provide a sympathetic (and not hagiographic) portrait of one of the most misunderstood and maligned leaders in contemporary Indian history. A must read book to know a man who well and truly transformed India
Mar 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Best Indian biography I've read - what an amazing man. There's something to be said for non-strongman leaders.
Yash Sharma
Aug 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The "Ninja Turtle'' who transformed India : P.V. Narasimha Rao

Half lion, how P.V Narasimha Rao transformed india, is brilliantly reasearched biography of the man who not only dismantled the so called ''licence-permit-quota'' Raj and opened up the Indian economy, but he also applied in letter and spirit the ancient Vedic principle of Vasudhaiva kutumbkam, which means 'The world is one big family'.

And the main USP of this book is
Debjit Sengupta
Aug 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
In the early 1991, the Indian economy was going through its worst and egregious phase ever. In other words , it was in tatters- a total financial mess. A party was well positioned for power in next general election. However, the party had grown itself by tethering to a single family. Prosperity without it was unthinkable. The leader of the party was however assassinated. The reign of an imbroglio and fractured nation was then handed over to a seemingly unimpressive , harmless and powerless ...more
Ankur Vohra
Jul 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
I was not even 10 years old when Mr. Narasimha Rao came to power and it was only round about 98/99 that I started following National Politics on a regular basis with my source of Information being the regular media houses and the impression that they had created on me for Narasimha Rao was of a leader who would cling to anything- Money, Baba's anyone who has able to help him for the sake of being in power and a leader who did not do substantive much for the country apart from letting Mr. ...more
Sep 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Completed the book half lion a book on Narashima Rao. The book starts with two basic things one being PVN did not have the majority what Deng Xiao Ping had in Chinaand second he hanlded India when all the borders were in boil

The book talks about how much of machivelisam he had and how he ran a minorty government for 5 yrs with zero charisma

Surprising that after 1984 India only in 2014 gave a clear mandate. Do not miss what he was doing during the destruction of babri masjid or how he handled
The abundance of footnotes, citations and reference material makes this book a great read. It is a well rounded attempt to introduce the legacy of PVNR while setting the context of his government and his political thinking. Also, the anecdotes which bring up the basic decency inherent to a few members of the establishment; or, the incredible pulchritude of politics when played by seasoned actors is worth reading.

The writing is helped by the arrangement and break-down of the chapters. Go ahead
Debjani  Banerji
Jul 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
PV Narasimha Rao has always fascinated me. His Economic Revolution has transformed India and where we are today. Unfortunately he was never given his due and that saddened me. The genius and the knowledgeable man he was, I believe history and his party should have given him much more respect than what he got.
This biography lucidly written by Vinay Sitapati is an easy read and you are soon transported into the era of PV Narasimha Rao. And the end of the Congress era with his decline.
Vidhu Shekhar
Jul 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Amazing book. Writer has done good work collecting personal papers from PVNR's family, though I suspect that the material is much more there and this could easily have been 100 -150 pages more. The kind of life that PVNR lead!

In the drought of any credible sources for PVNR's period, one of the defining period of India, and steered by a man who didn't even had majority, this is definitely worth a read.
Sunjoy Shekhar
Aug 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Well written. Be warned, he will make you like Rao!
Ramnath Iyer
Nov 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
A favourable (and mostly fair) portrayal!
In democratic politics, especially in coalitions of disparate groups, it helps to be able to change persona : to be a lion at times, pushing through one’s agenda with ferocity, but be a fox at other times, waiting slyly for an opponent’s weakness and acting only when the signs are propitious. With a name that translates into half-lion, half-man, Narasimha Rao, who I regard as the most important and best Prime Minister India has had in my lifetime, was
Jun 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, o-m-s
"His was a paradoxical personality"
A well-researched and well-written book.
Jun 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I want to start the review with a quote from Niccolo Machiavelli which goes like "Men judge generally more by the eye than by the hand, for everyone can see and few can feel. Every one sees what you appear to be, few really know what you are." Such was my perception after reading this book about the man.

Well written and asked the right questions at the right time with an in depth analysis of the WHYs behind most of the infamous decisions taken by the man. A must read.
Dec 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
There is no better way to write a 'first book' or there can never be a better 'first book'. Author V. Sitapathi is absolutely fabulous in his description of the life of P.V. Narasimha Rao, a man who did not get his due credit in the history of Indian leaders. What is even more fascinating is the fact that the author has touched out on a lot of sensitive topics and events (political [fall of babri masjid, assassination of Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi]/economical[liberalization of the Indian ...more
Akash Sood
Sep 10, 2016 rated it liked it
Has a lot of new information about politics in India from the late 80s to mid 90s dealing in detail with the liberalisation, roles played by the major players in it, the Babri masjid demolition, hawala scam, etc. I have felt that the liberalisation was bound to happen eventually regardless of the players, in large part because of the external pressure from the IMF/WB. The author points out several instances in the 80s under Indira and Rajeev where the financial condition was similarly dire, but ...more
I have always been interested in the economic reforms of 1991, and the man behind it...PV Narsihma Rao. I was casually going through biographies based on him when I came across this book. Honestly, I had kept it away for a very long time, thinking that it will be really boring. But I was in for a surprise!
This is a really well-researched book and provides great details on the life and times of PVNR without patronizing him. It is honest enough to call a spade a spade and acknowledges his
Jul 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
True to its name, the author "half-lionizes" PV, portraying him for what he was, warts and all. A strongly left-leaning socialist land reformer in his early days and banished to political wilderness before Rajiv's assassination, his was a life of vacillations and contradictions. Yet, it took him but a single day to change course when it came to the economic policy and the rest of the country s grateful to him for it. The treatment he has received from the Congress since his term though has been ...more
Jan 31, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Even though the author seems to be highly biased towards PVNR, still the book is a must read on how core socialist changed his outlook to capitalism to save a nation. Also, how crooked and imbecile the power brokers have become.
This book should be read to know how, if India was saved again and again, it was by a non Gandhi-Nehru person.
Jan 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Fantastic book that chronicles the unsung Rao, bringing out his character and the hows and whys of what he did and when he did it. With inputs from the men and women who were there, it feels like you are standing in front of the PM in South Block when he asked Naresh Chandra and Dr Kalam to go nuclear or in his room at 7 RCR during the darkest day in the 90s, 6th Dec 1992.
Dec 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Finally a book that tells a more complete story of the man the BJP wants to suddenly own while his own party stupidly tried to repudiate him. Warts and all, some good insider information.
Jul 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Very interesting book. I always had a generally positive opinion about PV, and this book, which takes a reasonably objective view about PV's tenure as PM, makes me respect PV more than before.
Vijay Gopal
Jan 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: india
In 1991, India was a basket case. Its economy was in the doldrums. A balance of payment crisis meant that India’s forex reserves could barely cover 3-weeks of imports. If India defaulted on its external debt, it would have gone down the Mexico way. (In 1982, Mexico defaulted on its debt payments and suffered 6 years of inflation, capital flight and unemployment.) In 1991, Rajiv Gandhi, a former Prime Minister who was campaigning to return to power, was brutally assassinated.

Those were the
Feb 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It was 26 Dec. 2018 and the clock struck 11.00 PM while my hands reached out to the book titled "Half - Lion: How P.V. Narasimha Rao Transformed India", I gleefully leafed through the first few pages that include preface and contents; and then the book opened with the first chapter titled "Half-Burnt Body". I began reading the chapter studiously, religiously and with as much joy only to end up with a paroxysm of rage, hatred, commotion, and disbelief toward the Italian woman, Sonia Maino. My ...more
Prathyush Sambaturu
Dec 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This book is a simple yet authoritative narrative of the story of P V Narasimha Rao (PVNR) in the arena of Indian politics (and Congress) starting as a humble party member, to a puppet Chief Minister of Andhra, to a humble significant number two in the Congress, and ultimately to the most powerful office as the Prime Minister of India. It presents Rao as the most underrated Prime Minister of India who deserves credit for much of India's progress in the 1990s. The author of the book points out ...more
Abhisek Pandey
Jun 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: stockholm-shelf, 2018
A very well-written biography of a modern Indian politician who long deserved a worthy account of his life and times. If there is one Indian politician who deserved a biography and who had a life intriguing enough, at the same time untold, to require a deep insight in last 40 years, it's Rao's. And this is a spellbinding story of Rao's life and work, at times reads like a high-octane political thriller: unputdownable and breezes the reader through the pages.

Kudos to Sitapati to do the justice
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