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

4.37  ·  Rating details ·  14,315 ratings  ·  1,188 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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Court I know this is an old question, but John Keay's "India: A History" covers large swaths of Indian history while still pulling specific examples to grou…moreI know this is an old question, but John Keay's "India: A History" covers large swaths of Indian history while still pulling specific examples to ground it all in something easy to relate to. It was an assigned reading as an undergrad and I've hung onto it for years since to occasionally go back and flip through. (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 ChandraThe Wonder That Was India by Arthur Llewellyn  BashamGandhi by Mahatma Gandhi
Indian History
192 books — 132 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
India on My Mind
379 books — 92 voters


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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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
Gorab Jain
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
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: 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
...more
Rajat Ubhaykar
Nov 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, india, favorites
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
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
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
Jun 14, 2011 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
...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: owned, classy
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
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
Anirudh
Sep 20, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: 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
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
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!
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
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
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
Shoti
Jun 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
The heterogeneity of India is truly baffling. What is that common denominator that may unite hundreds of millions of Indians into one nation? Perhaps it is religion as in the case of Pakistan? No, it cannot be religion. Though the majority of Indians are Hindu the country has the second largest population of Muslims in the world in addition to substantial communities of Buddhists, Christians, Jains, Sikhs. What about having a common language? Nice try but that doesn’t work either. The Constituti ...more
Nikunj
Jan 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
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
Stuti Gurtoo
Dec 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Jerry Jose
May 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Text book history of India often and for most people including me, reaches a clincher by the midnight of 15th August 1947, the day of Independence. What followed then after, for more than a half a century is, usually, the privilege of intellectuals and quasi historians on social media. It is like those Marvel movie after credit scenes that we all pretend to understand, and then silently google afterwards. This book intends to be the Rosetta Stone in breaking that barrier.

Though my reasons for re
...more
Utkarsh Kumar
Nov 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: india
Warning: this is going to be a long read.

Such an immersive thriller-like and all-encompassing narrative of the Indian history! Given this is the history of the world’s largest democracy, with a rich diversity of region, culture, religion etc, the book is surprisingly compact, at 900 pages. Oh, but 100 of those are notes and references, so it’s even more compact at 800 pages.

The book reminds the reader - how gigantic Nehru’s stature really was. His political strength allowed him to get through co
...more
Abhïshék Ghosh
May 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
If you ever believed in the old adage: 'history repeats itself', you would find confirmation in this book. Ramchandra Guha runs you through a gamut of the most crucial years of India's growth: from independence in 1947, to Nehru (the inconclusive Indo-China war in 1962, the States Reorganisation Commission in 1965, Nehruvian non-alignment and socialism, the uneasy relationship with Farooq Abdullah and the state of Jammu and Kashmir, the Naga secessionist movement and the incredible feat of sewin ...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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