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Rajiv Gandhi to Narendra Modi
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Rajiv Gandhi to Narendra Modi
Broken Polity, Flickering Reforms



March 2019 | 244 pages | SAGE Publications Pvt. Ltd

For the first time, the political story of India from the mid-1980s to the second decade of the present century is reconstructed through the first-person narratives of political leaders, revealing their inmost thoughts in their public utterances, offering weak arguments for their unforgivable lapses, speaking in eloquent terms of their achievements and sometimes showing uncharacteristic humility in what they said in their public speeches, in the Lok Sabha, in their blogs.

From Rajiv Gandhi’s confession about how and why he came into politics, Narendra Modi’s graphic description of his inner agony during the Gujarat riots, Vajpayee’s disarming confession about Nehru, Narasimha Rao’s stoic stance in a letter to his childhood friend, Advani’s confessions in the Lok Sabha about why television was pressed into service during the Kargil War, what emerges is a historical drama of Shakespearean range and an intensity which is more than what brilliant historians and acute political analysts can hope to achieve. The book shows that the first draft of history is found in the words of politicians in parliament and in the government. It captures the immediacy of history-in-the-making, and the palest platitudes of politicians that acquire rare poignancy.

 
Foreword by Meghnad Desai
 
Preface
 
Acknowledgements
 
Midnight’s Children: Rajiv Gandhi, Narendra Modi
 
Economic Reforms: Precursor to Inheritor
 
Rajiv’s Camelot: Blink of a Dream
 
Rajiv’s Fall: Furies Unleashed
 
Traumatic Turn
 
Ending the Free Fall
 
Winds of Change
 
Ayodhya Agony
 
Apologetics of Vandalism
 
BJP’s Moment of Truth
 
Romancing Pakistan
 
The Bomb Gambit
 
Love and War
 
General Bluffs: Agra Blues
 
Modi’s Inferno
 
Sonia’s Revenge
 
Manmohan’s Finest Hour
 
Spectre of Corruption
 
The Short Long March
 
Missing Crescendo
 
Epilogue: Dream and Reality
 
Suggested Readings

Parsa Venkateshwar Rao offers a lucid and wide-ranging analysis of the momentous changes that have transformed the Indian economy and society and the challenges that the political system has to cope with after economic reforms and the rise of majoritarianism. Written in an accessible and cogent style, this book will serve as a useful introduction for understanding some of the key political developments that have impacted democracy in the last 30 years.

Zoya Hasan,
Professor Emerita, Centre for Political Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University?, New Delhi

Parsa Venkateshwar Rao describes India’s turbulent history of the past decades but concentrating almost exclusively on economic reforms and the rise of Hindu fundamentalism, the first portrayed as necessary and the second as populist electoral adventurism. Concentrating on policy statements and debates, he ventures into the unenviable look of assessing contemporary history. Philosophers warn that the owl of Minerva’s wisdom flies after the twilight. Parsa wants us to turn to present continuities. He does this with acuity. This book should be read by those who know and need to review what they know and those who want to know.

Rajeev Dhavan,
Supreme Court Advocate

The past shapes the present in both direct and tangential ways and provides an understanding of our times. Combining the strengths of a scholar of politics and that of an observer journalist, Parsa Venkateshwar Rao Jr seeks to capture a crucial period in India’s political history, bookended by two prime ministers, Rajiv Gandhi and Narendra Modi. The book provides important insights into the often overlapping processes of economic reforms and political Hinduism that came to dominate this three-decade period in ways that irrevocably changed India. 

Pamela Philipose,
Public Editor, The Wire

Tough-minded journalism demands a sense of openness, a power of judgement and a ruthless sense of professionalism. It requires both a relentless sense of facts and an unflagging sense of judgement. Parsa Rao combines these qualities in a book that traverses across two eras, the age of Rajiv Gandhi and the Modi era. In comparing the two, he creates a choreography of different styles of politics, bringing out the differences and limits of each era. Rao is demanding as a writer, insisting that the reader think through the book with him. Quietly nuanced, the book is an invitation to rethink the fate of policy, politics and democracy. A narrative which spans 35 years of politics captures every moment of change from Rajiv’s assassination, Babri, the Gujarat riots to Modi’s ascent, Rao creates a tough titrated vision of political dynamics. A distilled insight into a noisy era full of drama of possibilities and limits.

Shiv Visvanathan,
Professor, O.P. Jindal Global University, Haryana

Tough-minded journalism demands a sense of openness, a power of judgement and a ruthless sense of professionalism. It requires both a relentless sense of facts and an unflagging sense of judgement. Parsa Rao combines these qualities in a book that traverses across two eras, the age of Rajiv Gandhi and the Modi era. In comparing the two, he creates a choreography of different styles of politics, bringing out the differences and limits of each era. Rao is demanding as a writer, insisting that the reader think through the book with him. Quietly nuanced, the book is an invitation to rethink the fate of policy, politics and democracy. A narrative which spans 35 years of politics captures every moment of change from Rajiv’s assassination, Babri, the Gujarat riots to Modi’s ascent, Rao creates a tough titrated vision of political dynamics. A distilled insight into a noisy era full of drama of possibilities and limits.

Shiv Visvanathan,
Professor, O.P. Jindal Global University, Haryana

“Let this book be your companion and guide as you try to make sense of the forthcoming tumultuous events in Indian politics.”

Lord Meghnad Desai,
Economist, author and politician

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ISBN: 9789353282981
£15.99