5 Books About India to have on your bookshelf

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Freedom at Midnight

by Larry Collins, Dominique Lapierre

For those interested in the partition.

The pair of Larry Collins & Dominique Lapierre have written several books together which combine their investigative journalism techniques with historical research. They have written about Paris, New York & Israel and embarked on the Indian Independence together.

The leads of this story are Mountbatten, Jinnah, Nehru & Gandhi. The premise is the Independence of the nation. This book has had painstaking research and uncovered old documents which will make us go through the core people involved in partition. However, since the only major person alive during the writing of this book was Mountbatten, the book does portray him in a good light.

The partition & last few weeks to Independence from the eyes of the ones making decisions about it is a topic which will always be close to our hearts.

 

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The Discovery of India

by Jawaharlal Nehru

India from the eyes of the man who established its principles.

Today when the current PM does not even mention India’s first Prime Minister in his speeches, it is even more imperative that we read this book to know the man who led our nation through the most perilous times and made us a secular democracy when no major world leader of that time thought that we could survive.

Nehru was a brilliant writer and this book is a testament to that. True to the title, it is the discovery of India from the eyes of Nehru. The India that we see through his eyes is glorious, strong, independent, proud and a nation of a very rich cultural heritage.

The book is also a reflection of Nehru and the vision he had of India.

 

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India After Gandhi: The History of the World’s Largest Democracy

by Ramachandra Guha

India’s lesser-known history.

This is the finest book on Indian history I have read. It is over 900 pages but totally unputdownable & very interesting. It takes us through a newly-independent India until the early 90s which was a period that not a lot of us know about.

The book is painstakingly and well researched and is very well-paced. It takes us through the nation’s journey and the major events that took us to this decade. It shows a nation which started low but has slowly & steadily climbed up & stands to be at the frontier in the coming decades.

 

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The Argumentative Indian: Writings on Indian History, Culture and Identity

by Amartya Sen

India as a culture & society from the Nobel prize winning economist.

This is Amartya Sen’s most famous book and it explores India and it’s culture and history through sixteen of his essays. It tells us about India’s long argumentative tradition which is so important for remaining a secular democracy.

 

296201

India Unbound: The Social and Economic Revolution from Independence to the Global Information Age

by Gurcharan Das

Indian economy from the eyes of the man who saw it.

Gurcharan Das was the CEO of P&G India from 1985 to 1992. He grew up with the nation & was at the helm of one of the biggest FMCG companies during the high-growth transition phase.

While his other books are okay, this one was really good. It takes us through India’s economy, it’s challenges, the ’91 reforms and the people behind it. It is a breezy read & well-written which touches the periphery of Indian economy and how we have stumbled through to the era of high growth.

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5 Books About India to have on your bookshelf

India and Reforms

The UPA government is trying to play the balancing act as it tries to push reforms to give the Indian economy a much-needed boost. However, a large number of the people are skeptical.

Their reasons: it will put the kirana (mom and pop) stores out of work and we have deep mental issues related to the “corporate greed” which have been stuck in our minds since gaining Independence. However, India Inc. has applauded the much needed reforms and more developments are in the pipeline.

When Manmohan Singh became the PM of India for the second time, a lot was expected from him. The UPA government was in the majority and there was no Left to stop any reforms this time. Yet, the government waited till the economic situation got bad and foreign media criticized Manmohan Singh openly.

While Manmohan Singh is largely hailed as the hero of the 1991 economic reforms, there were many people who worked quietly in the background to roll out those path-breaking reforms- the then-PM Narasimha Rao and a team chosen by him. While Mr. Singh rolled out the 1991 reforms, Narasimha Rao made sure that his government stayed in majority in spite of the opposition.

However, reading “India Unbound” by Gurcharan Das throws a different light on the situation. His book clearly states (after interviews with Narasimha Rao, Manmohan Singh and the rest of the team) that all these people were reluctant to open the Indian market to foreign investors. In fact, Gurcharan Das states that the reforms were more out of compulsion than anything else. After all, India had to send its gold reserves to secure a loan from the IMF…and the whole world knows how symbolic gold is for us Indians.

The thing is, even after almost 21 years of Liberalization we have still not learnt from our mistakes. We still doubt foreign companies, products and their result-oriented lifestyles. Manmohan Singh may have rolled out FDI in retail and aviation, but it seems too late. This step is again a result of the drubbing the current government has got, the rising inflation and the slowing pace of the economy. Unless our anti-foreign mentality changes, our economy will continue to stay behind, people will continue to remain jobless and starve and we will always be short of money (kinda like a teenager 😀 ).

The best part about this story is the reason the government has given to gain some support from other parties for its reforms- “These reforms will bring in about 1 lakh crore rupees which can be used to roll out populist schemes before the next elections.”

P.S.- Populist schemes are subsidies for the poor people which fits the Congress party image of “Aam Admi ki party” (the party of the poor people).
India and Reforms

From my Book-shelf

Bitter Chocolate

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/727587.Bitter_Chocolate

 

It is always good to step in a library with absolutely no idea what books you are going to pick up. That is when the books just come in your hand and you take them. Bitter Chocolate is the first and probably the only book about Sexual abuse in India. This is the second book about sexual abuse I have read and both of them have scared me like shit.

But maybe that is because of a personal connection I have with sexual abuse. Anyway, the book is comprehensively researched and I applaud the effort that the author has put in. It is more of a book for families or parents who are trying to deal with sexual abuse in their homes.

Apart from that, the book exposes the cultural and social factors that contribute to this sort of a thing in Indian society. Hopefully more families and parents will read this book and grow up. Hopefully.

 

The Dressmaker of Khair Khana

by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/8584913-the-dressmaker-of-khair-khana

 

This book is about a woman who, to support her family takes up sewing as a profession as the Taliban comes to power and women are removed from their jobs. The book highlights the strength and hard-work that this woman and her sisters put in to support each other. But more than that, it is how they help other women by teaching them sewing and knitting and by making them a part of their “company”.

And they do all this without breaking even a single Taliban law (I mean, they do but they are never caught so :)). This book also gives us a glimpse of the Afghan society before and after Taliban. It was one of the most forward nations when it came to women empowerment and women held jobs in many fields. Hell, I guess they might put India to shame.

For this book, I would also mention the author who has written articles about women entrepreneurs in such war-torn societies. One should definitely read up on her once at least. As for the book, it should be read by all those women who sit at homes and complain about their normal “mid-life crisis”. Because here are women who had more to deal with than their bosses or husbands or families.

And well…men should read up on women anyway 😀

 

India Unbound: The Social and Economic Revolution from Independence to the Global Information Age

by Gurcharan Das

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/296201.India_Unbound

 

This book is a delight to read. Imagine a rainy day- Sunday in fact and you have this man talking about India’s economic past, present with his personal journey right in the middle. Sounds boring…but it is not and that is Gurcharan Das for you. This book taught me a lot and it made me want to write. One can just have a cup of tea during monsoons and read this book all day.

I do not know what else to write about this book, except that I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. I hope you do too. 🙂

From my Book-shelf