I have finished Guha’s India after Gandhi and enjoyed every bit of it. Some aspects of Indian history after independence were probably known to the people who lived through those times; but, for me, they certainly were not known; one such unknown fact, is the Indian equivalent of McCarthyism (which, in fact, predates McCarthyism), for example:
Were the records of the government of India for those years ever to be thrown open, one might find such loyalty oath, extracted under pressure by senior officials, were very nearly ubiquitous.
As I noted in this blog, I did find a factual error and at least one inconsistency in the book–but those are minor quibbles, which will probably be corrected in the next edition, any way. Thus, India after Gandhi, for me at least would always remain a constant source of reference.
Having said that, to write the sixty years of history of India within 750 pages or so is an impossible task. So, I have a feeling that each chapter, and each section of Guha’s book can probably be expanded into a monograph. For example, I knew that Gen. A S Vaidya was involved in Operation Bluestar, since he was assassinated by Khalistan separatists after his retirement; but, there is no mention of him in Guha’s book. So, I believe that the book is sketchy than detailed. But, like the sketches of R K Laxman, it is a sketch that does more justice to the subject than even a photograph.
I can do no better than to end this post by quoting a few lines towards the end of the book:
So long as the constitution is not amended beyond recognition, so long as elections are held regularly and fairly and the ethos of secularism broadly prevails, so long as citizens can speak and write in the language of their choosing, so long as there is an integrated market and moderately efficient civil service and army, and — lest I forget — so long as Hindi films are watched and their songs or sung, India will survive.
With that, I will say my “So long” to the book that brought so much of joy and excitement to me in the past few weeks.