Book Review: India Since Independence

India Since Independence

Primary Author: Bipan Chandra

Contributions From: Mridula Mukherjee, Aditya Mukherjee

Publisher: Penguin
Originally Published: 2000

Book Blurb: The story of the forging of India, the world’s largest democracy, is a rich and inspiring one.

Introduction: This volume, a sequel to best-selling India’s Struggle for Independence, analyzes the challenges India has faced and the successes it has achieved in light of its colonial legacy and the century-long struggle for freedom. It covers the framing of the Constitution and the evolution of the Nehruvian political and economic agenda and basics of foreign policy; the consolidation of the nation and contentious issues like party politics in the Centre and the states, the Punjab problem, and anti-caste politics and untouchability. These, along with objective assessments of Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Jayaprakash Narayan, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Rajiv Gandhi, Vishwanath Pratap Singh, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, and Manmohan Singh, constitute a remarkable overview of a nation on the move.

Recommended For: It has been crucial to a history student’s syllabus and is often recommended to civil services aspirants and, I suggest it should be a part of every history enthusiast’s reading list.
This book was first published with a well defined theme, as a continuation of India’s Struggle For Freedom in beginning of the new millennium as the first edition of this book titled India After Independence: 1947-2000. A second edition made its appearance in 2007 with several more developments in the political arena of our contemporary history.

India Since Independence

“Indeed, many significant developments did take place since the book was written in 1999 and needed to be incorporated in the book. The economy in the new millennium was at the verge of a breakthrough registering unprecedented rates of growth. A paradigm change in India’s relationship with the outside world was being shaped not only by the major economic strides India was taking but also by the prolonged negotiations on a changed nuclear status for India among the nuclear powers. On the other hand Indian politics saw some unprecedented dips. The gravest threat to Indian democracy since independence was witnessed during the Gujarat killings following the Godhra tragedy in 2002. The state government, police and bureaucracy connived or remained silent spectators while thousands of Muslims were murdered or hounded and made homeless. But then other segments of India’s civil society and state institutions stood up and fought. The period also saw a brazen attempt to communalize our education system at the school textbook level with the Central government’s active participation. This too was followed by nationwide protests. A change of government in 2004 put a stop to this most dangerous trend. On the whole, though the period was characterized by spectacular economic growth it also was a period when the fruits of this growth did not spread very widely and the country faced a resurgence of the communal and caste divide.”

It is heavily criticized for being biased towards the Nehruvian ideology. However, I will not cease my recommendation for this work because of the chronology of events and the precise detailing provided that simply creates a doorway for the uninitiated reader.

When it comes to reading history, one book is never enough to draw conclusions. An event is always argued upon several theories and this book has provided one of them. And nevertheless a significant one. To disagree with a book, one must first read it. This is one such book. Happy Reading!

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Khadiza Naufa Fatin

Khadiza Naufa Fatin is a History graduate from Jamia Millia Islamia and is currently pursuing her Master's from University of Delhi. She is also part of The Madrasa Discourses project, developed at Notre Dame’s Keough School of Global Affairs USA, under its Contending Modernities Program.

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