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

4.41  ·  Rating details ·  1,496 ratings  ·  218 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 per
Kindle Edition, 362 pages
Published June 27th 2016 by Viking
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Start your review of Half Lion: How P.V. Narasimha Rao Transformed India
This is the story of a person who did all for his country but claimed little! Please read the complete review here
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
Ashish Iyer
Probably one of the few Prime minister of India i really admired.

This book talks about how PV Narasimha Rao made strides in Economy, Foreign policy, Defense etc during his era. Millions of Indians including me owe our jobs to PVN's economic policies. If India has finally emerged as a force to reckon with, it is primarily due to the economic policies of PVN. Thanks to him, he brought Manmohan Singh to politics and gave him finance ministry. According to me, PVN and Vajpayee government new policie
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.
Rajat Ubhaykar
May 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A marvellous biography that delineates PV Narasimha Rao's rise to power, first as chief minister of Andhra Pradesh, and later as Prime Minister, as well as his pivotal role in not just the 1991 economic reforms, but also in shaping India's foreign policy, welfare schemes, nuclear programme, and in bringing peace to Assam and Punjab. However, one aspect of his rule I would have liked to read more about was the exact circumstances under which the Panchayati Raj system gained constitutional status ...more
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 crumb ...more
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 le
Santhosh Guru
Jul 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic read. Like many, I didn't have any opinion about Narasimha Rao. I used to think it was Manmohan Singh, who was the architect of the economic liberation of 1991. But this author has established with facts and undeniable arguments that MMS is a hedgehog and it was PV Narasimha Rao, the fox, who provided the rock-like support and propelled reformations forward.

I am really awe at his diverse skills and ability to learn things extremely fast. PVN is truly a polymath, who must be remembered
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!
Prathyush Sambaturu
Dec 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  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 th ...more
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 ...more
Yash Sharma
Jan 12, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Half-Lion, How P.V. Narasimha Rao Transformed India is a book which I strongly recommend to every Indian out there, especially to the millennials.

This meticulously researched biography not only tells us about the man who dismantled the License-Permit-Quota Raj of Indira Gandhi, but it also reveals that how his own party treated a former Prime Minister who should have been included in history books.

For the detailed article you can visit my website-
Raja Baradwaj
May 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020
The Indian PM’s I admired growing up. I distinctly remember his Singapore address, arranged by Lee Kuan Yew, the a senior minister in Singapore. When the Pakistani High Commissioner, Salim Nawaz Khan Gandapur ambushed Sri. Rao with his lengthy diatribe during Q&A. The way the Indian PM shredded him without him even knowing what happened, is etched vividly in my mind.

This book gives a good view of who Sri. Rao was and his make-up. A very good read !!
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. ...more
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 perso ...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. Manmoha ...more
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
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 Cli
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 a
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.
Aditya Kulkarni
Mar 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book on one of India's best ever Prime Ministers. The book as the name suggests deals with how PV Narasimha Rao transformed India. When he took over as the PM in 1991, Indian economy was in deep trouble, 3 states were troubled by insurgency, and Indian foreign policy had to be changed. How PVN turned all of these around, despite leading a minority government forms the majority of the story. Vinay has done extensive research and has resurrected the legacy of PVN Rao, the half lion. ...more
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.
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 per
Aug 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
PV Narasimha Rao. The only Indian PM (till date) who has completed a full term with a minority mandate. The PM who is not credited for the economic reforms ('liberalization') of 1991, which occurred under his term in office. The PM blamed for corruption (bribing of MPs), communalism (his connivance in the demolition of the Babri Masjid is suspected to this day) and collapsing under US pressure (the nuclear tests that failed to happen in 1995/96, his last years in office, occurred in 1999, under ...more
Sathappan Sathappan
Dec 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Great well-written, thought provoking political book. I must admit I picked it up only to read about the 1991 Indian economical liberalisation. Once I read those chapters, I was intrigued by PV Narasimha Rao's motivation and thought process. Then ended up reading the entire book in 2 days.

It is remarkable what he achieved in those 5 years. It is also remarkable how his own party abandoned him in his last hour.

Manmohan Singh deserves all the praise he gets for the reforms in 1991. However this
Deepu George
Feb 19, 2021 rated it it was amazing
PV Narasimha Rao has always been somebody whom i revered. What ever the world around me say about him, i ve always looked upon him as somebody who changed the history of my country.
As a person who had my childhood during the socialist times of Indira and Rajiv and the times of change under Narasimha Rao and Manmohan singh I literarily observed India around me changing from Black and white to colour. Although he was one person everybody loved to forget, for me he was somebody who stood for change
Promit Choudhury
Jun 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
While it's not the easiest book to read. Incredibly well researched and thorough. It covers PV Narsimha Rao's career in Indian politics which spanned 5 decades - as the CM of Andhra Pradesh, as a part of multiple ministries like health, education, law, as the foreign minister, as the home minister and finally as th PM of India from 1991-1996. His journey to overhaul the heavily outdated beaurocratic machinery was mostly successful.
He was the first PM who was not from 'the family', was incredible
"His was a paradoxical personality"
A well-researched and well-written book.
Jul 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The book talks about 1991 indian economic liberalisation and how PV Narasimha Rao the most underrated PM to serve the full term with a minority government was the chief architect of the India that we live in today. Tons of references.
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Vinay Sitapati teaches at Ashoka University and writes for The Indian Express. He has studied at National Law School Bangalore and Harvard University.

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