India After Gandhi Book Summary - India After Gandhi Book explained in key points
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India After Gandhi summary

Ramachandra Guha

The History of the World’s Largest Democracy

4.5 (145 ratings)
47 mins

Brief summary

India After Gandhi by Ramachandra Guha offers a detailed account of India's political, social, and cultural life since independence, delving into its challenges and achievements as a democracy.

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    India After Gandhi
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    India became independent from the British Empire on August 15, 1947.

    Any history of modern India must begin with British rule. From the seventeenth century onwards, the British had been slowly increasing their presence in the region. By 1857, India was formally placed under the rule of the British government, under a system known as the British Raj.

    The British ruled over nearly 300 million Indians who spoke hundreds of languages and practiced many different religions.

    The prevailing opinion among the British elite was that India as a whole would never be fit for self-rule. How could a country with more ethnicities, languages and religions than all of Europe survive as a united, self-ruled republic?

    This view was best-reflected in remarks made by British Indian civil servant John Strachey in 1888, who noted that Spain is more similar to Scotland than Bengal, in the east of India, is to the Punjab in the west.

    But, the Indian National Congress, or INC, a political movement formed in 1885, disagreed. Their goal was to move people across India, regardless of language, race or religion, toward a single Indian sense of nationality. They believed that India could be a viable, independent state.

    By the 1930s, with the local Indian independence movement accelerating, British opinions remained the same. Winston Churchill predicted that an independent India would quickly descend into endless civil war and ethnic violence.

    It was only after the Second World War that the British position on India changed. The war crippled Britain economically. The fighting drained the British economy to such an extent that it was unable to maintain an expensive colonial empire. And so, finally, the INC’s demands for an independent India came to fruition.

    On August 15, 1947, India was born in the form of a democratic republic consisting of 28 states, some of which were larger than France.

    This achievement was remarkable in many respects. The INC’s mission to unite all of India involved the assent of over 500 autonomous, ancient regions known as the “princely states” to join together in a new democratic experiment. Only three abstained from joining the new India. Two of them, Junagadh and Hyderabad, were simply annexed by the new Indian government. However, the third, Jammu and Kashmir, became a more complicated issue, as we’ll explore later.

    The unity of India was an exceptional success in political history. Indian political theorist Sunil Khilnani even proclaimed that the creation of the Republic of India was the third great experiment in democracy of the modern age – after the French and American revolutions.

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    What is India After Gandhi about?

    India after Gandhi (2007) chronicles the story of post-independence India. For centuries, the country was ruled by colonial overlords, but that changed in 1947. After a long struggle for independence, Indians gained self-rule. Since then, the journey hasn’t been easy, but India remains a persevering and determined democracy – and the largest the world has ever seen.

    India After Gandhi Review

    India After Gandhi (2007) chronicles the journey of India from colonial rule to becoming the world's largest democracy. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • It provides a comprehensive account of the political and social developments in post-independence India, offering insights into its complex history.
    • By examining the challenges and achievements faced by the nation, the book offers a nuanced understanding of modern India's identity.
    • Through engaging storytelling and meticulous research, the author makes a complex subject accessible and ensures the book is far from boring.

    Best quote from India After Gandhi

    At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. – Jawaharlal Nehru, Indias first prime minister

    —Ramachandra Guha
    example alt text

    Who should read India After Gandhi?

    • Students of history interested in the region of south Asia
    • Indians looking to learn more about their contemporary history
    • Political junkies looking to clue into a new region

    About the Author

    Ramachandra Guha is an Indian historian and writer. His works have been translated into twenty languages, and have won a number of prizes. As well as being a regular contributor to the Telegraph and Hindustan Times, he is the author of numerous titles, such as Gandhi Before India and Gandhi: The Years That Changed the World, 1914–1948.

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    India After Gandhi FAQs 

    What is the main message of India After Gandhi?

    India After Gandhi explores the complexities and challenges of post-independence India.

    How long does it take to read India After Gandhi?

    The reading time for India After Gandhi varies depending on the reader's speed. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is India After Gandhi a good book? Is it worth reading?

    India After Gandhi is a fascinating read that provides insights into India's journey after independence.

    Who is the author of India After Gandhi?

    The author of India After Gandhi is Ramachandra Guha.

    What to read after India After Gandhi?

    If you're wondering what to read next after India After Gandhi, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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