Major takeaways from the book India after Gandhi by Ramchandra Guha

Written by Kaitholil Storyboard Team. Last updated at 2022-07-31 15:53:23

I've always been a fan of history, but it wasn't until I read this book that I truly began to understand how things played out in India after Gandhi. I will say that it takes some effort to understand the political nuances of this book; there are lots of names, dates, and events that may not be familiar to people who don't know much about Indian politics. However, if you're willing to put in some time, this book will help you grasp why things happened in India over the last half-century.

India after Gandhi is the third volume in Ramchandra Guha's India after Gandhi trilogy. It is a history of India from 1947 to 2014, covering the period from partition to the rise of a coalition government.

The book won the prestigious Sahitya Akademi Award for English in 2015.

The author's first book, The Unquiet Woods, was published in 1989. Since then, he has written over twenty books on various subjects, including religion, history, politics, and Penguin India's bestselling, The Argumentative Indian.

Gandhi is the big hero here.

Gandhi is the big hero here, and he shows why. He was a great leader who led his people to independence through non-violence. His example of non-violence is admirable, though not always easy to follow.

It's worth noting that Gandhi was not always an excellent example of non-violence himself. He could be harsh towards those who disagreed with him or criticized him (as Guha points out in Chapter 1). And it’s also true that he wasn't always successful in achieving his goals (for instance, he failed to convince all Indians to stop wearing wool).

Nehru is a tragic figure.

Nehru was a great leader, statesman, writer, orator, and thinker. He was a humanist who wanted to make India a modern nation. He had an excellent relationship with the people of his country and with other countries.

Mahatma Gandhi showed him how to be brave in difficult situations and be honest in his actions.

Despite all these qualities, Nehru had some weaknesses which hurt his goals and his country's welfare during those years when he was prime minister of India (1947-1964).

India was overcrowded and underregulated.

One of the main lessons from this book is that overpopulation is a problem. It was a problem in cities, it was a problem in villages, and it’s still a problem today. In addition to being an issue on its own merits, overcrowding worsens all other problems by providing more opportunities for conflict and spreading disease faster than if fewer people lived together.

Many Indians don’t believe that their country should take steps to reduce its population growth because they fear that if they do so, the government will somehow force them into sterilization programs or abortions against their will (this fear stems from a misunderstanding about how family planning works). This is not motivated by any concern for human rights, or justice one might argue that such beliefs are antithetical to both! Instead, it seems like an excuse used by people who don't want to think about these issues seriously enough: “Oh no! What will happen if we start talking about population control? Then I'll have scary thoughts like those! Better stay away from those topics entirely… Or maybe convince me there's nothing wrong with having children because it's natural."

Prison culture in India.

Prison culture is a reflection of the social fabric outside. There are two kinds: the good, which imitates the values and practices of the larger society and therefore acts as a corrective, and the bad, which merely replicates them. The latter is what we had in colonial India’s jails.

To take one example—that of punishment meted out to inmates who refused to work under duress—there were no safeguards against abuse or murder by guards that may have been present in other countries with similar prison systems (such as Britain). Inmates could be beaten for refusing to obey an order from one of these sadistic officers (as I was once at Tihar Jail).

Prisoners were treated like slaves; they were not given any rights; their food was often withheld if they did not complete their assigned tasks on time. No proper clothing or hygiene facilities were available either inside or outside jail premises during this period.

Democracy was difficult for India.

Democracy was a complicated system for India. The country is too large to be governed democratically, and its poor people were not well-educated and did not have enough time or money to participate in government. Indians also invested more in local issues than national ones, making it difficult to form a cohesive national identity.

All of this complicated voting for many Indians—voters had to travel long distances by train if they wanted their votes counted, which could take hours or even days depending on how far away from their hometowns the polling stations were.

Cultural norms of Indians.

You'll learn that India's culture has been influenced by other cultures, such as the British and Hindu. This is important because it shows how India has changed over time. As a result of this change, many cultural norms have shifted in unique ways—especially during times of war or famine.

The book also talks about how different cultural groups influenced Gandhi in his life and how he tried to bring them together peacefully through his ideas and actions. For example, Hinduism influenced Gandhi because he believed that “truth is God” (India After Gandhi). He thought truth could be found within all religions if you looked hard enough for it; therefore, one religion did not have more power than another (or even atheism).


Gandhi's advocacy of non-violence profoundly influenced the freedom struggle in India. He used nonviolence to defeat British rule and promote Indian independence and social change. Gandhi’s philosophy of ahimsa (non-violence) is one of the essential tenets he propagated during his time as a leader and social reformer in India. He believed that all humans were worthy regardless of race or religion; he promoted this concept by creating organizations such as Phoenix Settlement and Sabarmati Ashram, where people from all walks of life could live together without discrimination.

Gandhi made many sacrifices throughout his life, including fasting for over 200 days (a record). During that time, he was also arrested several times for his political activity against British rule over India.

This book provided in-depth information on the birth of modern India, its history, and its development.

This book provided in-depth information on the birth of modern India, its history, and its development. The author has researched the subject thoroughly from published primary sources and interviews of some key personalities and has covered in a very lucid manner almost all aspects that led to the culmination of events that shaped modern India.

This book is written as an introduction for those with little or no knowledge about Indian history but who would like to get an idea of how modern India came into being. It covers critical historical events such as the freedom struggle movement (1947), partition(1947), and the d formation of a new country, Pakistan(1948).

This book is written as an introduction for those with little or no knowledge about Indian history but who would like to get an idea of how modern India came into being. It covers critical historical events such as the freedom struggle movement (1947), partition(1947), and he d formation of a new country, Pakistan(1948). In addition, it also covers topics like the economy, society,y and social structure in a very lucid manner.

The background of India's partition and the breaking up of the dominant Congress party

After Gandhi died in 1948, India was soon rocked by political turmoil and violence. The partition of the subcontinent into two separate nations—India and Pakistan—created deep-seated tensions between Hindus and Muslims. In addition, Nehru's daughter Indira Gandhi had effectively taken over Congress after he died in 1964; she would rule as prime minister for most of the next twenty years. However, her authoritarian streak led to widespread resentment against her government among specific groups; one such group was the Hindu nationalist party known as BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party).

Under pressure from this growing opposition movement led by VHP (Vishwa Hindu Parishad), an organization founded in 1964 whose aim was to unite all Hindus under one banner., Ms. Ghandi announced plans for national elections in January 1971 - which she won despite widespread charges that they were rigged., prompting widespread protests across most cities until April when they culminated with a police crackdown that left hundreds dead.

The early years of Nehru as prime minister

In the early years of Nehru as prime minister, India was in crisis. Under his leadership (1947-1964), it was an unstable nation struggling with its identity and internal divisions. The country had inherited a legacy of colonial rule that included massive poverty, illiteracy, disease, and other disparities between rich and poor—a heritage that would not be easy to overcome. Nehru had campaigned on promises of equality for all Indians, but he soon realized that this goal was impossible to achieve overnight:

...the whole process will require many decades, if not centuries. It is a long, drawn-out struggle that cannot be won all at once or even in one generation...

Nehru understood this challenge better than anyone else; he knew that India’s path toward progress would be difficult but also thought it worthwhile because “if we fail, there are no excuses for us” (p 2). He believed sincerely in democracy as the most effective means by which Indians could build their government from scratch without having any foreign influence over it whatsoever (p 4).

Nehru's death and the ascent of Lal Bahadur Shastri as prime minister.

The year 1964 was a big one for India. It saw the death of Jawaharlal Nehru, its first prime minister, and also the ascension of Lal Bahadur Shastri as prime minister. Shastri died two years later in 1966, after which Indira Gandhi became prime minister and ruled until her assassination in 1984 (by then, she had adopted the title "Indira Gandhi" to differentiate herself from her father).

The period between 1964 and 1984 was a particularly tumultuous one for India. In the years before Indira Gandhi's death, she had amassed enormous power for herself and her office; after her assassination, she was succeeded by her son Rajiv Gandhi.

Shastri's death, Indira Gandhi's ascendency to power, and what led to the imposition of the state of emergency in 1975.

The first part of Guha's book deals with the final years of Jawaharlal Nehru, India's first prime minister, and Indira Gandhi's father. Under Nehru, India became a democracy and made great strides in industrializing. However, Guha argues that he was not an effective leader when dealing with problems such as Pakistan and Kashmir.

When Shastri died suddenly in 1966 following heart surgery, Indira Gandhi became prime minister at 42. This shocking development shocked many Indians who believed she would be too young for this responsibility.

Guha then describes how Gandhi used her newfound power to institute a nationwide program called Garibi Hatao ("Eradicate Poverty"), which focused on building infrastructure and improving public services like health care and education. This greatly benefited rural communities that had long been ignored by previous governments but did little for urban dwellers; meanwhile, income inequality grew under her leadership,p as well as unemployment among youth caused by technological advances like computers replacing manual labor jobs like farming or manufacturing textiles from the cotton thread (which led many people out of work).

How Indira was able to re-acquire power after the emergency and what led to her assassination.

The sympathy vote was vital in Indira Gandhi’s re-acquisition of power after the Emergency. To understand how she was able to do this, we must first look at the circumstances surrounding her assassination by her Sikh bodyguards:

The assassination occurred on 31st October 1984, just two months after Indira Gandhi had launched Operation Bluestar to flush out terrorists from Amritsar's Golden Temple. This operation left nearly 400 people dead, and the Sikhs were deeply offended by what they perceived as their holy shrine being desecrated.

When President Zail Singh visited Amritsar on 31st October, he came across a crowd that included many protestors who shouted slogans against him for having refused to pardon Bhindranwale when he requested clemency during his trial in 1983.

After leaving Amritsar, President Singh returned home to meet with his family members and other members of parliament, including Harcharan Singh Brar (a Sikh). At around 6 pm IST (10 am PST), four men arrived at Harcharan Singh Brar's residence, where he was meeting with other MPs - all were armed with revolvers and shot dead Harcharan Singh Brar before fleeing into waiting cars parked nearby on Chandigarh Road - witnesses reported hearing gunshots coming from inside his house soon after this incident occurred; this report led security forces into pursuing those responsible for shooting him down outside his own home!

Rajiv Gandhi's rocky tenure as prime minister and his eventual assassination.

Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated in 1991. He became prime minister after his mother's assassination in 1984, serving until 1989. During this time, he oversaw Operation Blue Star and the Bhopal gas tragedy, which were highly controversial events.

The rise of the coalition government, the forces that led to it, and how it impacted India in general.

India is a democracy with a parliament. This means that politicians form the government from different parties representing their constituents in the legislative assembly.

The coalition government was formed in 1989 when two or more political parties came together and formed a government, which means they worked together for the common good of the people in India.

When there is a coalition government, it can impact each aspect of society differently: domestic policy (affecting citizens), foreign policy (foreign relations), and economy (how money moves around).

A review of Indian history from partition in 1947 to coalition government in the 1990s.

Guha's book is divided into three parts: Partition, 1947-1964; Disputed Succession, 1964-1969; and The Bureaucracy.

Partition was a period of great upheaval for the Indian people and their leaders. Guha writes that it "destroyed the old order," leaving many wondering how they would survive in this new country. Nehru became prime minister at the end of 1947, following Gandhi's assassination by a Hindu nationalist who opposed his secular approach toward Pakistan's creation (and indeed all non-Hindus). Nehru faced opposition both within his party and from religious minorities who feared discrimination under him, but he remained committed to secularization and economic development. His death in 1964 left no obvious successor. Still, when Shastri became prime minister later that year, he followed much of Nehru's path forward: continuing industrialization while also asserting himself on foreign policy issues such as Kashmiri independence. He died suddenly in 1966 when Indira Gandhi took over as PM; she had been her father Jawaharlal Nehru’s secretary since 1966 before his death—a position that made her extremely powerful within Congress Party circles despite her lack of experience leading others professionally outside her father’s inner circle before entering politics herself at age 38 after Shastri's passing."


The history of post-independence India has been a tumultuous one. From the partition in 1947 to the imposition of emergency in 1975, this book gives us a glimpse into what life was like for ordinary people during these times. It shows us how political leaders have risen to power, fallen, and affected India.

This book provided in-depth information on the birth of modern India, its history, and its development. The author gives a detailed account of how India evolved from a British colony to an independent nation. Still, he also provides his opinion on what may have been critical factors in this transformation. Overall, I recommend this book to anyone interested in learning more about Indian history or politics!

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