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

4.39  ·  Rating details ·  16,159 ratings  ·  1,376 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, 912 pages
Published July 24th 2007 by Ecco (first published April 20th 2007)
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Dhruv Goel You should check out the work of Tirthankar Roy, who has written a lot on Economic History of India. For more comprehensive reading there is nothing b…moreYou should check out the work of Tirthankar Roy, who has written a lot on Economic History of India. For more comprehensive reading there is nothing better than Cambridge Economic History of India. For light reading, Sanjeev Sanyal's Land of Seven Rivers would be appropriate.(less)
A Man Called Ove Nehru - M.J. Akbar
Patel - Rajmohan Gandhi
Rajaji - Rajmohan Gandhi
Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan - Rajmohan Gandhi
Jinnah - Stanley Wolpert
Tilak and Gokhle - St…more
Nehru - M.J. Akbar
Patel - Rajmohan Gandhi
Rajaji - Rajmohan Gandhi
Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan - Rajmohan Gandhi
Jinnah - Stanley Wolpert
Tilak and Gokhle - Stanley Wolpert
Savarkar - Dhananjay Keer
Ambedkar - Dhananjay Keer
Have read the above. I dont remember the name of the book on Subhash Bose that I read.(less)
India After Gandhi by Ramachandra GuhaThe Discovery of India by Jawaharlal NehruIndia's Struggle for Independence by Bipan ChandraGandhi by Mahatma GandhiThe Wonder That Was India by A.L. Basham
Indian History
332 books — 158 voters
India After Gandhi by Ramachandra GuhaThe Discovery of India by Jawaharlal NehruThe Argumentative Indian by Amartya SenIndia Unbound by Gurcharan DasIndia by John Keay
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Kali Srikanth
Sep 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
"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
...more
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
Sidharth Vardhan
Jun 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
“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 wi
...more
Ashish Iyer
Unfortunately the book is extremely underwhelming for those who have more than passing interest in political history of India. It is consistently biased in favor of a Nehruvian/Congress/Leftist-Marxist viewpoint. Guha's hero-worship of Nehru, a leader with many flaws, is also less than neutral. He also sweeps under the floor the history of corruption in India since independence. Mr. Guha is partial toward First Prime minister Mr. Nehru and never criticize him at any moment and more over this wri ...more
Ted
Jun 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Speaking of India the nation state, one must insist that its future lies not in the hands of God but in the mundane works of men. 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 film ...more
Brian Griffith
Feb 10, 2021 rated it really liked it
This tome runs over 800 pages, and almost every page is interesting. I enjoyed all of it. It's such an important part of recent world history, and Guha provides an excellent basic education on the major developments. I was especially fascinated with Guha's clear, honest, and compassionate explanations of the ongoing tensions between secular respect for the rights of all religious communities and the demands to make India a Hindu state (or as Nehru described it, a "Hindu Pakistan"). Also, Guha sh ...more
S.Ach
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
...more
Amit Mishra
May 16, 2019 rated it it was ok
Even the persons who are giving five stars to this book are not missing an opportunity to call the author a Congress party loyal and he distorted some facts to pay the homage to Congress party. That is enough for even an ordinary citizen to think about his writings. These kinds of writers only show their loyalty to a certain group rather than doing any great work.
The book has done nothing more than creating the image of Gandhi family as larger than life. The author like Ramchandra Guha tries to
...more
Vipassana
Jan 01, 2015 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.
...more
Gorab
Apr 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Gorab by: Aparna
4+
I was least interested/aware about Indian politics before picking this book.
Now, I want to explore so much more. Such is the way IAG draws you in.
Not just politics, albeit formation of India. Starting from drawing the constitution to uniting the states, origin and ideologies of emerging political parties....
Insights about partition, roots of Kashmir issue, Tibet, relations with Pak and China, picking a national language, Hindu Act, reservations, Naxalites, Maoists, Mizoram and Nagaland revolt
...more
Rajat Ubhaykar
Nov 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, history, india
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
Katrin
Aug 12, 2011 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
May 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: indian-ism, favorites
"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
...more
Jonfaith
Apr 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
My own view – speaking as a historian rather than citizen – is that as long as Pakistan exists there will be Hindu fundamentalists in India. In times of stability, or when the political leadership is firm, they will be marginal or on the defensive. In times of change, or when the political leadership is irresolute, they will be influential and assertive.

This sweeping history was a revelation. I feel as if I was simultaneously dazzled and lost. My chief response was a desire to read more both by
...more
Shailee Basu
Jul 09, 2020 rated it it was ok
Informative, only if you're looking for a North Indian narrative of "India". The imagination of India is still majorly a North Indian idea. Narratives from South is minimal, East and North East is little to none, you'll find this in the book too. This is basically the UPSC idea of India- North Indian narratives and reeks of ignorance. Obviously, this was expected but definitely not from a historian like Guha with Bengali roots, genuinely believed that he would pen down a more diverse and inclusi ...more
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
Anirudh
Sep 20, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: indian-history
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
Shruti Buddhavarapu
Sep 21, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: aai-own
Pretty informative...for people who think there's only men on this planet! ...more
Kaushik
Apr 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I never liked history. All through school it was a mechanical exercise in fact mugging, presented in the driest form possible, an experience that had convinced me to never be interested in knowing the trivial matters of the past, as compared to the thriving present. The same feelings were reciprocated towards civics and economics.


As I turned 18, and became part of the Universal Adult Franchise, and earned this all glorified right to vote, my initial feeling was of confusion. Whom do I vote for?
...more
Pranav
Dec 16, 2015 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
...more
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
Muthu Raj
Dec 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Abhishek
Jan 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Richa
May 13, 2020 rated it it was ok
So, it took me ~3years to read this mammoth of a book. I was attracted to the book hoping to read about the history of post independence India. Growing up in India, you are taught a lot about the history of India leading to the freedom struggle but nothing after.
I was amused initially as I felt I am learning a lot about the developments post independence, how the princely states were brought into Índian union etc. What I wasn’t as affected by was the slow pace. The book keeps dragging on and on
...more
Viplove Tyagi
Jun 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Sundar Ganesan
Dec 24, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: histroy
Half way through the book - one thing that is very clear for me is the admiration and towering love that the author and historian, Ramachandra Guha, bestows upon India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru.. If not for a history genre, this book would have earned 5 stars from me, at least, on the biased leftist construction of Indian History as this book could easily happen to be.. Any event, good, bad, success or failure, described only from a position of ‘Nehru’s good and divine intention’ ...more
Shailendra Bhogaraju
Aug 06, 2015 rated it it was ok
A political treatise glorifying the Nehru-Gandhi Family !!!
Sarah Ali
Feb 08, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: maybe-someday
yeah according to history genre.am not a big fan but i thought it could be knowledgeable but it wasnt that help
Shravani Sawant
Feb 26, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a beast to conquer. Wow.

The book largely covers, without going into too much depth, the history of India since freedom, but still manages to make it sound like a story. The author has covered each event from several perspectives, while being neutral and firmly based in fact as much as possible. Commendable and extremely informative, at times too much to take in, but an excellent read overall.
Aditya Kulkarni
First of all, I would like to thank Ramachandra Guha for writing this book. There are very few books on the subject, i.e. the general contemporary history of India or the history of India since independence and the sheer content of the book, the variety of topics it covers is indeed worth appreciating. I really like the extent to which the author has covered the North Eastern part of the country which is quite rare because most the North East is one of the most neglected parts by authors, politi ...more
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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
...more

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“What is now in the past was once in the future” 36 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” 28 likes
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