Just finished reading India After Gandhi by Ramachandra Guha, and loved it! In retrospect, it is surprising that we weren’t taught post-independence history at school… My own exposure to last fifty years of Indian history has been through fragmented accounts (through books or otherwise) of specific issues. This book was a revelation in putting it all together.
More than anything, it made me fall in love with India again. In spite of all the imperfections, the very survival of this country is creditable – in fact, perhaps, a black swan outcome. The book traces back the beliefs and convictions that made it so, with due recognition of the failures that happened along the way and continue to happen. Guha concludes that the idea of India as a nation belies all conventional notions of what makes a nation (common values, language, religion and the likes) and by itself offers a model of what nations of the future may be held together by – not the least the inherent plurality and contradictions within it.
While this is claimed as history of India, it is really a political history – but a good one. I am glad the author resisted the temptation, almost till the end, to broaden the coverage to other fields like business and entertainment! What would have been great is to get a deeper view of the changes in society over past fifty years – would have provided a great context for what was driving politics. In any case, a must read.