India after Gandhi by Ramachandra Guha

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India after Gandhi by Ramachandra Guha

Post by charvaka on Thu Apr 12, 2012 2:42 pm

I recently finished reading this excellent book. Most Indian history books stop with independence in August 1947, or with Gandhi's death in January 1948. Our history since then was taught in propagandist tones as part of the civics syllabus at school. Ramachandra Guha does an expert job of bringing to life the characters, stories and issues that dominated modern India. There are many nuggets of interesting information in the book, some of which I have already used in the weekly trivia. The breadth and depth of Guha's research is truly remarkable.

The things I found most interesting in the book were:
1. The long list of quotes interspersed throughout the book that predicted doom and gloom for India, ranging from disintegration to dictatorship to famine.
2. The contrasts between Indira Gandhi and her father and their different approaches to democracy and the law. The differences in their worldviews. The degree to which Indira Gandhi subverted the Congress party and the Indian state, both of which her own father had nurtured -- that not just during the infamous Emergency.
3. The flexibility in the negotiating positions of both Nehru and Indira when it came to Kashmir -- although the official position was something else altogether.
4. The sheer breadth of popular protest throughout India's independent history.
5. The role of the civil services in bringing India together and keeping it together -- and some of its most capable men like India's first CEC Sukumar Sen.

This book is a must-read for any student of Indian history. Guha does an excellent job of reporting the uncontested facts while seeking to keep his own personal point of view out. This is hard to do with recent history, but when he does advance his own opinions, he is careful enough to call that out.

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Re: India after Gandhi by Ramachandra Guha

Post by charvaka on Thu Apr 12, 2012 9:47 pm

As I said above, I found the quotes from various people quite interesting. Here are some interesting quotes that Guha uses in the book.

The disappearance of the British Raj in India is at present, and must for a long time be, simply inconceivable. That it should be replaced by a native Government or Governments is the wildest of wild dreams... As soon as the last British soldier sailed from Bombay or Karachi, India would become the battlefield of antagonistic racial and religious forces... [and] the peaceful and progressive civilisation, which Great Britain has slowly but surely brought into India, would shrivel up in a night.
-- J.E. Welldon, former Bishop of Calcutta, 1915

Speaking to an audience at the City of London in December 1930, he claimed that if the British left the subcontinent, then 'an army of white janissaries, officered if necessary from Germany, will be hired to secure the armed ascendancy of the Hindu.' Three months later, speaking at the Albert Hall on 'Our Duty to India' -- with his kinsman the Duke of Marlborough presiding -- Churchill argued that 'to abandon India to the rule of the Brahmins would be an act of cruel and wicked negligence.' If the British left, he predicted, then the entire gamut of public services created by them -- the judicial, medical, railway and public works departments -- would perish, and 'India will fall back quite rapidly through the centuries into the barbarism and privation of the Middle Ages.'


Here, let me quote only a prediction by a sympathetic visitor, the British journalist Don Taylor. Writing in 1969, by which time India had stayed united for two decades and gone through four general elections, Taylor yet thought that: "the key question remains: can India remain in one piece -- or will it fragment? ... When one looks at this vast country and its 524 million people, the 15 major languages in use, the conflicting religions, the many races, it seems incredible that one nation could ever emerge. It is difficult to even encompass this country in the mind -- the great Himalaya, the wide Indo-Gangetic plain burnt by the sun and savaged by the fierce monsoon rains, the green flooded delta of the east, the great cities like Calcutta, Bombay and Madras. It does not, often, seem like one country. And yet there is a resilience about India which seems an assurance of survival. There is something which only be described as an Indian spirit. I believe it is no
exaggeration to say that the fate of Asia hangs on its survival."

There is no question of Nehru's attempting to create a dynasty of his own; it would be inconsistent with his character and his career.
-- Frank Moraes, political columnist, 1960

Indira tere subah ki hai, tere shaam ki jai
Tere kam ki jai tere naam ki jai
-- D.K. Barua, Congress President, 1975

The current Indira regime, founded on June 26, 1975 [the day Emergency was proclaimed], was born through lies, nurtured by lies, and flourishes by lies. The essential ingredient of its being is the lie. Consequently, to have a truth-loving, straight-thinking journal examine it week after week and points its falsehoods becomes intolerable to it.
-- A.D. Gorwala, former ICS officer and editor of Opinion, one of the many casualties of Indira Gandhi's Emergency, in the last issue of his journal before it was forced to shut down

The best of the quotes, in my opinion of course, is this:

I have no doubt that if British governments had been prepared to grant in 1900 what they refused in 1900 but granted in 1920; or to grant in 1920 what they refused in 1920 but granted in 1940; or to grant in 1940 what they refused in 1940 but granted in 1947 -- then nine-tenths of the misery, hatred, and violence, the imprisonings and terrorism, the murders, flogging, shootings, assassinations, even the racial massacres would have been avoided; the transference of power might well have been accomplished peacefully, even possibly without Partition.

-- Leonard Woolf, 1967

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Re: India after Gandhi by Ramachandra Guha

Post by Guest on Sat Jul 21, 2012 12:16 pm

i had this thread bookmarked. read it today.

charvaka wrote:The best of the quotes, in my opinion of course, is this:

I have no doubt that if British governments had been prepared to grant in 1900 what they refused in 1900 but granted in 1920; or to grant in 1920 what they refused in 1920 but granted in 1940; or to grant in 1940 what they refused in 1940 but granted in 1947 -- then nine-tenths of the misery, hatred, and violence, the imprisonings and terrorism, the murders, flogging, shootings, assassinations, even the racial massacres would have been avoided; the transference of power might well have been accomplished peacefully, even possibly without Partition.

-- Leonard Woolf, 1967

my god. i am looking up leonard woolf right now. this is the best caption/quote -- agreed.

Here, let me quote only a prediction by a sympathetic visitor, the British journalist Don Taylor. Writing in 1969, by which time India had stayed united for two decades and gone through four general elections, Taylor yet thought that: "the key question remains: can India remain in one piece -- or will it fragment? ... When one looks at this vast country and its 524 million people, the 15 major languages in use, the conflicting religions, the many races, it seems incredible that one nation could ever emerge. It is difficult to even encompass this country in the mind -- the great Himalaya, the wide Indo-Gangetic plain burnt by the sun and savaged by the fierce monsoon rains, the green flooded delta of the east, the great cities like Calcutta, Bombay and Madras. It does not, often, seem like one country. And yet there is a resilience about India which seems an assurance of survival. There is something which only be described as an Indian spirit. I believe it is no exaggeration to say that the fate of Asia hangs on its survival."
lovely. +1

There is no question of Nehru's attempting to create a dynasty of his own; it would be inconsistent with his character and his career.
-- Frank Moraes, political columnist, 1960

father of dom moraes. but poets (i am assuming he had some of his son's genes) see realpolitik with coloured lenses. nehru, through his letters to indira, nurtured her to share his dream and aspirations. she inherited the aspiration to lead but not the dreams. she was the WORST thing to happen to india. the only good thing she did was mukti bahini. i remember those days. my father's (joint family of him and his brothers) office would be busy all day, not working but making lei or glue and be busy "blacking out" windows, all day, with it, to avoid sight by pak. fighter planes. and there used to be sirens when we'd shut out all lamps to go incognito.

i must read this book. bookmarked.

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Re: India after Gandhi by Ramachandra Guha

Post by truthbetold on Sat Jul 21, 2012 12:46 pm

Churchill's comments are illustrative of how ones own personal backgroundcolors their world view. the words liberty freedom democracy and secularism are
used by everyone but were to be interpreted differently in different contexts.

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Re: India after Gandhi by Ramachandra Guha

Post by Guest on Sat Jul 21, 2012 12:55 pm

Shocked
As a couple, Leonard and Virginia Woolf became influential in the Bloomsbury group, which also included various other 'Apostles'.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leonard_Woolf

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Re: India after Gandhi by Ramachandra Guha

Post by Kris on Sat Jul 21, 2012 1:50 pm

charvaka wrote:I recently finished reading this excellent book. Most Indian history books stop with independence in August 1947, or with Gandhi's death in January 1948. Our history since then was taught in propagandist tones as part of the civics syllabus at school. Ramachandra Guha does an expert job of bringing to life the characters, stories and issues that dominated modern India. There are many nuggets of interesting information in the book, some of which I have already used in the weekly trivia. The breadth and depth of Guha's research is truly remarkable.

The things I found most interesting in the book were:
1. The long list of quotes interspersed throughout the book that predicted doom and gloom for India, ranging from disintegration to dictatorship to famine.
2. The contrasts between Indira Gandhi and her father and their different approaches to democracy and the law. The differences in their worldviews. The degree to which Indira Gandhi subverted the Congress party and the Indian state, both of which her own father had nurtured -- that not just during the infamous Emergency.
3. The flexibility in the negotiating positions of both Nehru and Indira when it came to Kashmir -- although the official position was something else altogether.
4. The sheer breadth of popular protest throughout India's independent history.
5. The role of the civil services in bringing India together and keeping it together -- and some of its most capable men like India's first CEC Sukumar Sen.

This book is a must-read for any student of Indian history. Guha does an excellent job of reporting the uncontested facts while seeking to keep his own personal point of view out. This is hard to do with recent history, but when he does advance his own opinions, he is careful enough to call that out.

>>>> I remember asking my father about the early years of independence and this is one of the first things he listed for India's ability to navigate successfully thru the period. Sounds like an interetsing book, will see if I can a get a hold of it.

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Re: India after Gandhi by Ramachandra Guha

Post by Kris on Sat Jul 21, 2012 2:04 pm

truthbetold wrote:Churchill's comments are illustrative of how ones own personal backgroundcolors their world view. the words liberty freedom democracy and secularism are
used by everyone but were to be interpreted differently in different contexts.



>>>> This is why it is important for people to have their own narratives of themselves. An absence of this or worse yet, engaging others based oin their narratives ("what will the white man think? Is he looking down on me?" etc) is a recipe for getting railroaded.

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Re: India after Gandhi by Ramachandra Guha

Post by ashdoc on Mon Aug 20, 2012 10:34 pm

Ashdoc's review of INDIA AFTER GANDHI ( written for another forum in 2009 )


looks like mouthing platitudes like ' fundamentalism of the hindu majority is far worse than that of the muslim minority ' and blaming the hindus for all acts of communal tension and absolving the muslims of all blame for everything is a surefire way of not only getting votes as a politician but also of laughing all the way to the bank.

historian ramchandra guha demonsrates this as he is getting a 1 crore book deal for 6 books through penguin india.the well conected 'secular ' lobby has ensured that that their blue eyed boy gets the recognition as well as the moolah.

these books will contain the 'definitive' biography of gandhi, an anthology(whatever that means) of 12 'thinkers' of modern india-all secular of course, and the remaining books -revised editions of all the 'secular' bullshit he has been he has been dishing out all these years.

his claim to fame of course is the book- india after gandhi- that he wrote recently.

let us check out some of the gems that this ' great' book contains.

it was the hindus and the sikhs who started the horrific post partition riots- implies the author.the muslims in rioting were merely 'returning the compliment' says he.

in reality all 'secular' historians also have accepted that the riots were started by pakistanis.they claim that it was economic reasons that was the root cause , that poorer muslims felt exploited etc, which is all bullshit, but at least they accept that the muslims started them.

guha stoops to a lower level by blaming the hindus and sikhs themselves - the main sufferers of partition.

he also claims that hindustani- a forgotten language now- was the main mode of intercourse between the hindus and the muslims for centuries. this to defend gandhis attempt of imposing it upon us as the national language- to appease the muslims of course as it contains some urdu words.

in reality it was never the mode of intercourse between hindus and muslims as hindus didnt know it nor did many muslims. it was a rough dialect of illliterate muslims who did not know urdu. it didnt have its own grammer as nathuram godse in his trial pointed out. this gandhi was going to impose as our national language- and guha blindly defends this decision.

he also defends nehrus mad obsession for for socialism which kept us poor for decades claiming that it was the 'in' thing at that time and nehru was merely following the trend.

in fact he goes soft on all of nehrus mistakes including the 1962 war.

the rise of the BJP of course is the great catastrophe of indian history.nothing worse could have happened in indian history than the babri masjid demolition and gujrat riots.

one wonders of his biography of GANDU- what will be so ' definitive' about it. will be a hagiography?

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Re: India after Gandhi by Ramachandra Guha

Post by Jeremiah Mburuburu on Mon Aug 20, 2012 10:56 pm

ashdoc wrote:Ashdoc's review of INDIA AFTER GANDHI ( written for another forum in 2009 )
nothing worse could have happened in indian history than the babri masjid demolition and gujrat riots.
i don't believe that nothing worse could have happened, but in fact, nothing worse has happened.

don't know how to spell gujarat?

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Re: India after Gandhi by Ramachandra Guha

Post by ashdoc on Mon Aug 20, 2012 11:03 pm

Jeremiah Mburuburu wrote:
ashdoc wrote:Ashdoc's review of INDIA AFTER GANDHI ( written for another forum in 2009 )
nothing worse could have happened in indian history than the babri masjid demolition and gujrat riots.
i don't believe that nothing worse could have happened, but in fact, nothing worse has happened.

don't know how to spell gujarat?


of course , the fact that kashmiri hindus are refugees in their own land is nothing---welcome to secularism......
and petty mistakes are pointed out by petty minds.....

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Re: India after Gandhi by Ramachandra Guha

Post by Idéfix on Wed Aug 22, 2012 1:01 pm

ashdoc wrote:let us check out some of the gems that this ' great' book contains.

it was the hindus and the sikhs who started the horrific post partition riots- implies the author.the muslims in rioting were merely 'returning the compliment' says he.

in reality all 'secular' historians also have accepted that the riots were started by pakistanis.they claim that it was economic reasons that was the root cause , that poorer muslims felt exploited etc, which is all bullshit, but at least they accept that the muslims started them.

guha stoops to a lower level by blaming the hindus and sikhs themselves - the main sufferers of partition.
Where does he say that? Please provide a page number.

ashdoc wrote:he also defends nehrus mad obsession for for socialism which kept us poor for decades claiming that it was the 'in' thing at that time and nehru was merely following the trend.
No, he does not.

ashdoc wrote:in fact he goes soft on all of nehrus mistakes including the 1962 war.
Not at all. He clearly describes Nehru's mistakes.

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Re: India after Gandhi by Ramachandra Guha

Post by ashdoc on Wed Aug 22, 2012 1:12 pm

panini press wrote:
ashdoc wrote:let us check out some of the gems that this ' great' book contains.

it was the hindus and the sikhs who started the horrific post partition riots- implies the author.the muslims in rioting were merely 'returning the compliment' says he.

in reality all 'secular' historians also have accepted that the riots were started by pakistanis.they claim that it was economic reasons that was the root cause , that poorer muslims felt exploited etc, which is all bullshit, but at least they accept that the muslims started them.

guha stoops to a lower level by blaming the hindus and sikhs themselves - the main sufferers of partition.
Where does he say that? Please provide a page number.

ashdoc wrote:he also defends nehrus mad obsession for for socialism which kept us poor for decades claiming that it was the 'in' thing at that time and nehru was merely following the trend.
No, he does not.

ashdoc wrote:in fact he goes soft on all of nehrus mistakes including the 1962 war.
Not at all. He clearly describes Nehru's mistakes.


read my first post---i have already written there that i wrote the review for another forum in 2009 . that means i read the book three years ago . so i dont remember pages etc . but i stand by what i wrote .

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Re: India after Gandhi by Ramachandra Guha

Post by Hellsangel on Wed Aug 22, 2012 1:18 pm

ashdoc wrote:
Jeremiah Mburuburu wrote:
ashdoc wrote:Ashdoc's review of INDIA AFTER GANDHI ( written for another forum in 2009 )
nothing worse could have happened in indian history than the babri masjid demolition and gujrat riots.
i don't believe that nothing worse could have happened, but in fact, nothing worse has happened.

don't know how to spell gujarat?


of course , the fact that kashmiri hindus are refugees in their own land is nothing---welcome to secularism......
and petty mistakes are pointed out by petty minds.....

It didn't take you that long to figure out the old dog.

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Re: India after Gandhi by Ramachandra Guha

Post by ashdoc on Tue Sep 04, 2012 7:17 am

however as a maharashtrian the one thing i liked about the book was the fact that the author supports inclusion of mumbai into maharashtra .

he clearly establishes that the maharashtrian claim over mumbai is indeed strong---full marks to him on that .

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Re: India after Gandhi by Ramachandra Guha

Post by Guest on Tue Sep 04, 2012 7:36 am

ashdoc wrote:he clearly establishes that the maharashtrian claim over mumbai is indeed strong---full marks to him on that .
can you elaborate a bit? i did not get the context.

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Re: India after Gandhi by Ramachandra Guha

Post by ashdoc on Tue Sep 04, 2012 8:36 am

Huzefa Kapasi wrote:
ashdoc wrote:he clearly establishes that the maharashtrian claim over mumbai is indeed strong---full marks to him on that .
can you elaborate a bit? i did not get the context.

at the time of creation of maharashtra there was a strong lobby mainly of gujaratis and parsis ( who also originally hail from gujarat ) who wanted mumbai as part of gujarat considering their hold on the economy in mumbai and their considerable numbers in mumbai .

but guha establishes a strong case for inclusion of mumbai in maharashtra . remember the book is about history not current affairs .

interestingly JRD Tata lobbied for inclusion of mumbai in gujarat according to guha---lowers him in my estimation . though i still respect him a lot .

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Re: India after Gandhi by Ramachandra Guha

Post by Guest on Tue Sep 04, 2012 8:53 am

thanks. i did not know this.

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