A critique of Guha’s India after Gandhi 

Venkatesan at Law and other things has a couple of blogposts summarising the arguments of Sanjay Kak, critiquing Guha’s book; unfortunately, the original piece of Kak does not seem to be freely available online (a reading of which would have helped me make up my mind about the piece myself). However, from whatever I read of the summary, I do not think the review is that devastating really (and, some of the points looked more like nit-picking), though, Venkatesan himself seems to agree with Kak at some level:

Having read the book, I was struck by the simple and lucid style with which he dealt with the history of modern India since Independence, trying to touch all dimensions of India’s democratic experiment in one book. The book, I thought, has been able to get rave reviews, thanks to the author’s transparent and candid style of historical writing which instantly built bridges with the reader. However, I must add that I had the lurking feeling that if one were looking for a history of the peoples of India, (as distinct from its milestones and institutions) then it is not the right book, and such a book (in a comprehensive style using the same approach adopted by Guha) is yet to be written. When I read film maker Sanjay Kak’s review in the scholarly book review journal Biblio (July-Aug 2007), my feelings only got reinforced.

The only substantial piece of criticism (which others make too) is that  Guha’s optimism about Indian democracy (towards the end of the book) is misplaced. In any case, take a look!

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