Top positive review
Reviewed in India on 5 June 2019
Praise for a book or an argument need not constitute an agreement with its conclusions or inferences. However disagreement is a poor cause to shy away from ideas if one does not wish to be locked inside an echo chamber of confirmation bias.
This book is a polemic, an unabashed critique of the Indian Prime Minister who has just won an election with a thumping majority. The author is a staunch votary of secular ideals that animated the founding of Bharat Ganarajya - the Republic of India; and in that capacity he castigates the five year rule and rise to power of PM Modi. The litany of sins is well known, the 2002 post Godhra riots in Gujarat, Demon, Gau Rakshaks, the loony interpolations into history and science curricula - none of this is new to any well read Indian.
What makes the book valuable is the history of the Indian Republic narrated as a background to PM Modi's spectacular rise to power. How Pandit Nehru and the founders of the Republic set out to establish a secular democratic state, mistakes they made almost since inception, the short lived resolute yet unimpeachably upright premiership of Shastriji, is a part of history that is rarely remembered.
The rapid fall from these lofty ideals as Nehru's heridatory successor - his daughter Indira and her incompetent sons went about demolishing the foundations of the republic. The subsequent liberalisation under IMF duress credited to Dr Manmohan Singh - and how all that change and ferment paved the way to the rise of Hindu Nationalism as the dominant ideology of Indian politics.
All this should be essential history for Indians to be aware of, yet so few are.
Kapil Komireddi does a fabulous job of telling this story. The prose is terse, the narrative is fast paced and gripping, the vocabulary is rich and impassioned. Rarely is a work of non-fiction so "unputdownable"!