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Summary of the book – India After Gandhi by Ramachandra Guha – Guest Post By Raja VN Rao

This book is a comprehensive history of Independent India. This book is widely accoladed. The book starts with partition of India. Assimilation of the princely states into the Union of India, the role played by the stalwarts like Sardar Patel and his confident Krishna Menon stands up in the book, the author gives tremendous respect for Patel. The accession of the Hyderabad and Junagad is explained in considerable detail.  

The book deals with Kashmir history from 1947 in a considerable depth written in 4 chapters and they are placed in an order that creates interest and fits to chronology of events. The book covers various important things of Kashmir history the wars fought, varying nature of Sheik Abdullah leading to his exile, urgency expressed by Jan Sangh leader Shyama Prasad Mukerjee, Indira sheik accord, the three wars fought, armed militancy. The militancy in the North East, Naga problem, ULFA and the Mizoram runs along the length of the book and creates tremendous interest to the reader.  

The book provides the glimpses of the difficulties in formulating the constitution of India and the role of exemplary leaders like Ambedkar and the Rajendra Prasad. The drama of the India’s first election is covered well and the less known great leaders like Sukumar Sen is highlighted for his contributions. The bigger constitutional moves like Hindu reform bill is covered largely. 

The author gives his tributes for Nehru for building the institutions, forming India as a secular nation, getting hindu reform bill, linguistic state decision but also shows his failure in India China war, inefficiency in handling Kashmir, his differences with the Raja gopala chari, Kriplani, General Thimayya is vividly explained. His friendship Mahalanobis and his trust with Soviet model of development also figures. 

Formation of the linguistic states which author believes has strengthened the unity of the nation rather balkanization is dealt in detail. Dravidian movement in Tamil Nadu which avoided imposing of Hindi is duly explained. The book later moves on to explains the emergency movement, the draconian laws that were imposed during the emergency, degradation of institutions, the role of leaders like Jayaprakash Narayanan, Murarji Desai, Chandrashekar figure in the book. 

It covers many other historical movements like Khalistan movement, green revolution, Chipko movement, economic liberalization, operation flood, Bhopal gas tragedy, Babri Masjid demolition, Kargil war. One gets a good account of a people who were one or two generations before(considering the age of average Indian) like Kriplani, General Thimayya, Cariappa, Shivaram Karanth, Gulzarilal Nanda, Kamaraj, PC Roy, EMS Namboodari Pad, Kengal Hanumanthaiha, Phizo, Sukumar sen, Jaipal Singh and many more.  

The book ends with a section on entertainment which covers famous musicians, movies and sportsmen. The book is voluminous but it’s a very easy read, the book is popular as it created interest in history for people who weren’t. This is undoubtably one of the best works in the recent times on India’s contemporary history.    

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