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‘INDIA IS AN IMPROBABLE NATION.’ Under Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party, India has undergone the most total transformation since 1991. The ‘invisible threads’ Nehru said held together an improbable union divided by language, religion and ethnicity have snapped under the burden of Modi’s Hindu-supremacist rule.In this blistering critique of post-Independence ‘INDIA IS AN IMPROBABLE NATION.’ Under Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party, India has undergone the most total transformation since 1991. The ‘invisible threads’ Nehru said held together an improbable union divided by language, religion and ethnicity have snapped under the burden of Modi’s Hindu-supremacist rule.In this blistering critique of post-Independence India from Nehru to Modi, K.S. Komireddi charts the unsound course of Indian nationalism: its cowardly concessions to the Hindu right, convenient distortions of India’s past and demeaning bribes to India’s minorities. He argues that the missteps of the nation’s founders, the mistakes of Nehru, the betrayals of his daughter and her sons, the anti-democratic fetish for technocracy inaugurated by Narasimha Rao and carried to the extremes by Manmohan Singh—all of them laid down the road on which Hindu nationalists rode to absolute power.Hindu bigotry, ennobled under Modi as a healthy form of self-assertion, has reopened old fissures that threaten to devour India’s hard-won unity. Yet bad times have also smashed the citizenly complacency that brought India to this point. There are multitudes who now realise how extraordinary and brave the idea of India was to begin with; there is a resurgent struggle against its extinction, and the assertion of new voices to wrest the republic from the forces of religious majoritarianism.A short history of the modern Indian nation, Malevolent Republic is also an impassioned plea for India’s reclamation. ‘Kapil Komireddi is one of the most thoughtful and thorough journalists writing today. His range of interests is impressive in its breadth and cosmopolitanism; his is a rare voice that can comment on global affairs from a truly comparative perspective.’ AMITAV Ghosh ‘Kapil Komireddi is a write of flair, originality and, above all, an absolute independence of mind … His ability to see through posturing and prejudice makes his work both distinctive and compelling. This book deserves to be widely read within India and beyond.’RAMACHANDRA GUHA


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‘INDIA IS AN IMPROBABLE NATION.’ Under Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party, India has undergone the most total transformation since 1991. The ‘invisible threads’ Nehru said held together an improbable union divided by language, religion and ethnicity have snapped under the burden of Modi’s Hindu-supremacist rule.In this blistering critique of post-Independence ‘INDIA IS AN IMPROBABLE NATION.’ Under Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party, India has undergone the most total transformation since 1991. The ‘invisible threads’ Nehru said held together an improbable union divided by language, religion and ethnicity have snapped under the burden of Modi’s Hindu-supremacist rule.In this blistering critique of post-Independence India from Nehru to Modi, K.S. Komireddi charts the unsound course of Indian nationalism: its cowardly concessions to the Hindu right, convenient distortions of India’s past and demeaning bribes to India’s minorities. He argues that the missteps of the nation’s founders, the mistakes of Nehru, the betrayals of his daughter and her sons, the anti-democratic fetish for technocracy inaugurated by Narasimha Rao and carried to the extremes by Manmohan Singh—all of them laid down the road on which Hindu nationalists rode to absolute power.Hindu bigotry, ennobled under Modi as a healthy form of self-assertion, has reopened old fissures that threaten to devour India’s hard-won unity. Yet bad times have also smashed the citizenly complacency that brought India to this point. There are multitudes who now realise how extraordinary and brave the idea of India was to begin with; there is a resurgent struggle against its extinction, and the assertion of new voices to wrest the republic from the forces of religious majoritarianism.A short history of the modern Indian nation, Malevolent Republic is also an impassioned plea for India’s reclamation. ‘Kapil Komireddi is one of the most thoughtful and thorough journalists writing today. His range of interests is impressive in its breadth and cosmopolitanism; his is a rare voice that can comment on global affairs from a truly comparative perspective.’ AMITAV Ghosh ‘Kapil Komireddi is a write of flair, originality and, above all, an absolute independence of mind … His ability to see through posturing and prejudice makes his work both distinctive and compelling. This book deserves to be widely read within India and beyond.’RAMACHANDRA GUHA

30 review for Malevolent Republic: A Short History of New India

  1. 5 out of 5

    Nandakishore Varma

    Well - I am equivocal about the book. While it is well-written and hard-hitting, it is too loud and polemical. It is the author shouting at you: "This is India. It was a pretty hopeless country even at the time it was formed; the Congress, under successive prime ministers, degraded it further - and now Modi has pushed it down the abyss, and is hammering the final nail in the coffin. We are screwed, ladies and gentlemen." And he shouts at the written equivalent of the decibel level of Arnab Goswa Well - I am equivocal about the book. While it is well-written and hard-hitting, it is too loud and polemical. It is the author shouting at you: "This is India. It was a pretty hopeless country even at the time it was formed; the Congress, under successive prime ministers, degraded it further - and now Modi has pushed it down the abyss, and is hammering the final nail in the coffin. We are screwed, ladies and gentlemen." And he shouts at the written equivalent of the decibel level of Arnab Goswami. I am exhausted after reading it. It is a pretty short book. Starting with a poignant prologue of how one of his Muslim friends has become disillusioned with India after being treated horrendously (a common enough tale, sadly), Komireddy wades into the attack with both fists flashing left and right. In ten short chapters, he tells us How Nehru with his ideas of western liberalism screwed up in many places, and set the stage for the Nehru dynasty to build its hegemony; How Indira Gandhi virtually killed democracy with the emergency, and how her son Sanjay Gandhi ran riot; How her son Rajiv Gandhi, the unlikely Prime Minister, totally mishandled the country in his five years and encouraged communalism, corruption, and nepotism How P. V. Narasimha Rao made India a super economy by pushing the poor even further down into the muck and making the rich, richer; How Manmohan Singh continued Rao's dirty work, and ruled mostly at the behest of Sonia; And... How Narendra Modi came on the scene in the guise of a redeemer (nothing but a mask, the author says, quoting his dubious precedents as Gujarat Chief Minister) and proceeded to dismantle what was left of India to satisfy his overweening vanity, narcissism and xenophobia, by (1) promoting his personality cult (2) taking disastrously illogical policy decisions (example: demonetisation) (3) allowing his minions to unleash terror on the minorities (4) spending most of his time and country's money to satisfy his vanity (5) corrupting and politicising all independent institutions like the RBI, CBI, Election Commission - even the army and (6) adding to India's innate disunitary tendencies, by trying to promote an aggressive Hindu nationalism. So what are we left with? A country where democracy has become a joke, where dissenters and minorities are regularly targeted, whose economy is going into a bottomless pit. Can we recover? The author hems and haws at the end, but one gets the feeling that he is not very optimistic. Most of the things Komireddy says are substantiated. India has progressively moved towards the right, and over the years, the republic is showing the strain. Our economy is in the dumps and income disparity has worsened. However, shouting about these from a soapbox, as the author is doing, does not help much. He comes across as no better than a doomsday preacher. I too believe that we are going through dark times. But instead of becoming emotional and blaming everything and everybody, we must sit down and think things calmly through. I expected a book which would analyse the problem and give me some solutions. Sadly, this is not that book.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Savyasachee

    If there is one book you ought to read which will truly reveal the direction in which India is heading, this is it. No, quite literally, this is it. This book is a mix of pessimism, dread, and history, all of which combine to paint a picture so gloomy as to defy all perception. India, writes Komireddi, has never been a very great democracy or republic. She has always had weaknesses. Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, Narshimha Rao, Manmohan Singh and now Narendra Modi. The rot inside If there is one book you ought to read which will truly reveal the direction in which India is heading, this is it. No, quite literally, this is it. This book is a mix of pessimism, dread, and history, all of which combine to paint a picture so gloomy as to defy all perception. India, writes Komireddi, has never been a very great democracy or republic. She has always had weaknesses. Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, Narshimha Rao, Manmohan Singh and now Narendra Modi. The rot inside the country has matured and festered. For many, claims Komireddi, this is a belated awakening. That India could have elected someone as divisive as Modi truly tells us where we've come. As he ends the book, he invokes the example of Yugoslavia. According to Wikipedia, "The causes for the collapse of the country have been associated with nationalism, ethnic conflict, economic difficulty, frustration with government bureaucracy, the influence of important figures in the country, and international politics." Looking at this line through the lens of India and its current situation, one cannot help but smile at the irony. In the past, extortion, exploitation and its ilk were the preserve of kings and emperors. The ordinary people were wise, peaceful and non-violent. However, once democratically elected representatives of the people took up the habits of kings, it was not long before their "subject peoples" took them up as well. The results are chilling. There is little to dislike about the book (unless, of course, you cannot stand the narrative). The narrative itself is barely palatable, yet completely true. Komireddi is unrelenting in his criticism of each and every authoritarian figure in power. He makes it clear that Narendra Modi, whom he does not like, is merely stretching the very same boundaries his predecessors smudged in order to cement their hold on power and extend the reach of their ideologies. Modi's own actions are mirrors of anti-democratic actions taken by Indira and Sanjay Gandhi. Even the international media reacted similarly to both leaders. Yet there is one crucial difference. Organised opposition managed to coalesce around Indira in the form of JP Narayan. There is none around Narendra Modi. The very organisational rot which Indira Gandhi created has come back to haunt the Congress. And even so, Narendra Modi is Congressifying the BJP. That ought, in a strange paradox, to comfort the doomsayers. The Congress's autocratic structure is responsible for its decay. If the BJP goes the same way, there is a chance it may be subject to the same decay which the Congress has been undergoing. Of course, there is the chance that the soul of the country has been irreversibly changed, concludes Komireddi gloomily. And with the new government in power, it may change even more. 5/5, would give more but the system doesn't allow me to.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Murtaza

    A sobering, scathing appraisal of Narendra Modi's India, apparently published in the run-up to the most recent Indian election. If this book sounded hyperbolic at the time recent events have amply borne out its thesis. The engine of the Indian economy is audibly wheezing, while Modi himself has gone "mask-off" with his own sectarianism and religious extremism. This book is a look back at how India got to this point since its independence. Although its written from the attractive (to me) perspect A sobering, scathing appraisal of Narendra Modi's India, apparently published in the run-up to the most recent Indian election. If this book sounded hyperbolic at the time recent events have amply borne out its thesis. The engine of the Indian economy is audibly wheezing, while Modi himself has gone "mask-off" with his own sectarianism and religious extremism. This book is a look back at how India got to this point since its independence. Although its written from the attractive (to me) perspective of Nehruvian Indian nationalism, it is unsparing in its criticisms of the Congress Party and its deteriorating legitimacy over the past several decades. As the title suggests there are a litany of horrors that led India to its Modi moment, some of which I was only dimly aware of like the mass-sterilization campaigns and Indira Gandhi's authoritarian throttling of Indian institutions. This is a refreshingly unpartisan book; gleefully ecumenical in its condemnations. The author is also extremely critical of Pakistan for reasons that are generally valid. The most scathing criticism however are still reserved for Modi and his apparatchiks. He stands accused of being a charlatan and bigot who is hollowing out the country's values and plunging it into savagery. The depiction of Modi reminds me at times of what Turkish liberals used to write about Erdogan, although the specific charges tend to be more extreme. Were those liberals who charged that their strongman was ruining the country generally proven wrong, or right? The best part of this book is the moving personal reflection that it begins with, relating the author's childhood friendship with an impoverished Muslim schoolmate in Hyderabad and their heartbreaking reunion in adulthood. The rest of the book is a bit of a whirlwind tour through Indian decay, written in the style of one raging against the dying of the light. It is a necessary warning and exhortation about India's future, written in the liberal tradition of those who were the best of Asia.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Sajith Kumar

    India is a federal democracy that allows the right of association and freedom of expression to its citizens. Except during the internal emergency declared by Indira Gandhi in 1975-77, this right has been effectively used. Indian politics underwent a decisive shift in 2014 when the people entrusted the BJP, a Hindu nationalist party, a decisive majority on its own. It reconfirmed the verdict in the 2019 elections as well. Narendra Modi, who is the leader of the party and the nation’s prime minist India is a federal democracy that allows the right of association and freedom of expression to its citizens. Except during the internal emergency declared by Indira Gandhi in 1975-77, this right has been effectively used. Indian politics underwent a decisive shift in 2014 when the people entrusted the BJP, a Hindu nationalist party, a decisive majority on its own. It reconfirmed the verdict in the 2019 elections as well. Narendra Modi, who is the leader of the party and the nation’s prime minister, enjoys wide popularity among the people. He is tough, decisive and unfailingly result-oriented. As in any democracy he has his critics in ample measure, and they let loose a maelstrom in the media accusing him of many wrongdoings. This is the hallmark of a healthy democracy in which the leader is continuously examined in detail and his actions repeatedly put under the scanner. Unfortunately, the so-called militant liberal intellectuals have internalised the notion that their opinion is the gospel truth and get irritated and resentful when the common people happily ignore them and march behind Modi. They have started using another strategy to account for the irrelevance of their advice. Liberals now claim that dissent is stifled like in the Emergency days but that also crumble under impartial scrutiny. The privilege to claim that there is no democracy in the country itself is a sure indicator of the right of freedom of expression. Try doing this in North Korea or China and see the difference! The liberals put up a combined effort to undermine Modi's chances in the 2019 elections and this book is a long charge sheet of his presumed ‘failures’ and a request to the voters to oust him at the next opportunity. Kapil Satish Komireddi was born in India and educated in England. His commentary, criticism and journalism have appeared in major publications around the world. This is his first book. Komireddi surveys India's history from about 1930 onwards to set the stage for Narendra Modi’s ascent to power. The author is unhesitatingly disdainful of India – her systems of politics, politicians and the society itself. He criticizes the Nehru family to no end and stoops to the level of the gutter by examining their personal lives and suggesting an extramarital affair between Kamala Nehru and Feroze Gandhi, her son-in-law. Such is the level at which Komireddi operates! He calls Nehru a 'deracinated interloper' and claims that the Indian republic was a project floated on the supposition that democracy would contain rather than intensify the yearnings for consolidation among India's Hindus who for the first time in history would be an enfranchised majority in a politically united India devoid of a foreign master. He takes a dig at the ditching of secularism by Congress through favouring minority vote banks without any semblance of a right perspective. Throughout India's post-independent period, Muslim women were being thrown out of wedlock by their husbands by casually uttering talaq three times as allowed in Islamic law. Religious scholars always defended the husbands’ religious right to cast aside their wives without providing for them. Alluding to the Shah Bano case of 1985-86, the author alleges that the Nehruvian state recognised this ‘right’ and proved its secularity. The Nehru family also robbed the people’s democratic rights during the Emergency. It was India's forsaken multitudes – whose suitability for democracy was repeatedly questioned and whose disenfranchisement high-mindedly rationalized away by the country's post-colonial elite – who resuscitated the republic (p.23). Quite unusually for a typical liberal intellectual, Komireddi unveils a scathing criticism of the secular historians and their criminal complicity in suppressing the horrible pillage done by Muslim invaders in India. He considers the historiographers’ adulteration of mediaeval history in some detail (p.45). Mediaeval India, despite all the evidence of its methodical disfigurement, was depicted in school books as an idyll where Hindus and Muslims coexisted in harmony and forged an inclusive idea of India which the British came and shattered. Congress-sponsored history papered over the overwhelmingly contradictive evidence – from the ruins of Hindu liturgical buildings to the ballads of dispossession passed from generation to generation – arrayed against it. As an illustrative example, Komireddi quotes a portion from Alauddin Khilji’s historian Vassaf’s journal in which he talks about the subjugation of Gujarat which included such heinous acts as temples destroyed, idols smashed, wealth looted, infidels killed and 20,000 beautiful children of both sexes raped and sold into sexual slavery! Moreover, it was the mission of secular historians and public intellectuals of India to locate mundane causes for carnage by religious zealots. And when these reasons could not be found, they trivialised the gruesome deeds of the invaders and emphasized their good traits. All imperialism is vicious but that is not the standard adopted by India’s secular historians. Portuguese and other European atrocities such as forced conversions are recorded as such, but Muslim invaders were said to be ‘enriching the Indian culture’. The author then makes a great observation: “Imperialism, in other words, was destructive only when the Europeans did it. When the Asians did it, it was a cultural exchange program” (p.47). Unfortunately, sticking to the existing secular custom, he omits to mention the only Asians who invaded India by name. This book assails India's Kashmir policy as a moral blot, criminal enterprise, brutalization of its majority and an anti-democratic farce. He refers to the hanging of Afzal Guru – without mentioning his name – the Kashmiri terrorist who masterminded the suicide attack on Indian parliament in 2001 as ‘the legal murder of a defenceless’ man (p.68). This was in spite of all due judicial procedure that took nearly ten years to complete! Lack of research and awareness of India's Constitution is painfully evident when he mocks at Narendra Modi’s election pledge to dismantle the Article 370 of the Constitution that conferred special privileges to Kashmir. The author claims it to be an entrenched provision of the Constitution that could not practically be repealed (p.174). However, within a few months of the publication of this book, Modi did exactly the same. This might have infuriated the author to no end! He expresses another vicious hope of the dismemberment of India by claiming that ‘South India is imperceptibly inching away from the north’ as if it is a preordained tectonic activity. The entire purpose of this book is to provide a seething criticism of Modi for the opposition to use in the 2019 elections. The prime minister must be criticized in a democracy and facing such censure is part of his job. But Komireddi’s all-out attack often lowers the status of the entire discourse to the personal level. The author himself confesses that ‘the presence of Modi, the worst human being ever elected prime minister, in the office hallowed by Nehru and Shastri was a source of debilitating distress for me” (p.217). He rues that Modi's career did not end the moment the Gujarat riots of 2002 raged and untruthfully maintain that ‘if you happen to be a Muslim, Gujarat was a pit of horror and humiliation’ (p.82). To prove his credentials in offering such a heavyweight invective, Komireddi boasts that he had visited more mosques (most of them abroad) than Hindu temples, even though he was born a Hindu. Komireddi’s hatred towards Modi is palpable and readers can literally discern the frothing foam at the corners of his mouth after his vengeful tirade of non-stop accusations against the democratically elected leader. Modi rose from a very humble background. His mother washed dishes in the neighbourhood and his father sold tea in the nearby train station to feed their family of six children. His regular education was hence curtailed at high school, but later he took graduation through distance learning. It is mercilessly mean on the part of the British-educated author to make fun of Modi on his low level of education. He compares Modi one-by-one to Hitler, Mao, Putin, Erdogan, Tughluq and Ceausescu. I just counted the venomous epithets he uses to describe Modi in this book’s pages and it merits an amusing glance from the readers. Komireddi portrays Modi as 1) boastful 2) shameless 3) megalomaniac 4) bigot 5) implacably malevolent 6) permanently aggrieved 7) hare-brained 8) foul man 9) tin pot tyrant 10) benighted 11) vainglorious 12) innately vicious 13) culturally arid 14) intellectually vacant 15) fascist 16) prospective killer 17) future mass-murderer 18) atrociously incompetent 19) despot 20) liar about his accomplishments 21) self-conceited strong man 22) inhabitant of a foetid political swamp and 23) the worst human being ever elected prime minister. So much for Komireddi’s objectivity, impartiality and tolerance! Komireddi is not able to maintain a balanced attitude towards the nature of things and consciously or unconsciously works to enhance the wretchedness of the loser in a struggle as if to keep him aggrieved and on the lookout for revenge. In response to Pakistani newspapers’ lament in 1971 that its defeat was the first time in a thousand years that Hindus had won against Muslims, he lists out the leading Indian army officers and ‘prove’ that none of them are Hindu. He designates the anti-Sikh riots that ravaged Delhi in 1984 as a Hindu-Sikh riot whereas it was orchestrated by the Congress party in power to ‘teach the Sikhs a lesson’ on the assassination of their leader Indira Gandhi by two Sikhs in her bodyguard. The shallowness of research for this book is too evident to cast a shadow of worthlessness on the entire text. The book is still recommended as a helpful way for readers to observe the off-kilter antics of a biased author.

  5. 5 out of 5

    muthuvel

    I found substantial knowledge and suffering from this work of a decent journalist. What basically happens here is that we all learn certain facets of history in school but only what happened up to the point of political Independence of 1947. As if it is almost in an ascertaining tone that things went on happily ever after. A good book like this clear up such delusions to disturb our minds and souls. The book strongly asserts India had never really been a great, secular, socialist, democratic rep I found substantial knowledge and suffering from this work of a decent journalist. What basically happens here is that we all learn certain facets of history in school but only what happened up to the point of political Independence of 1947. As if it is almost in an ascertaining tone that things went on happily ever after. A good book like this clear up such delusions to disturb our minds and souls. The book strongly asserts India had never really been a great, secular, socialist, democratic republic as it is viewed now or retrospectively. The glimpses from the Emergency years, and the turmoil and tension dealing with the demolition of Babri Masjid was pretty much haunting. Second half of the book primarily deals with the Modi Government's dealing with the Socio-Economic Status quo, collective notions of Secularism, and other misadventures of 'Modi'fication. A separate final chapter on the short history of Kashmir right from its struggle for independence is alone a sufficient reason for me to recommend it to all unplanned Indians who are alive today. Well intended suffering deserved to be experienced. This work could be called as a brief history of India after Gandhi upto Modi, atleast, that's what I think

  6. 4 out of 5

    Nishad Dawkhar

    This is a book that should perhaps be urgent, necessary reading for people born and raised in the India of the last 20-30 years: this is the age group which constitutes the young productive workforce of the nation contributing to its flourishing economy, which is also in charge of making important electoral and societal decisions that could be responsible for damaging the very foundations of the republic. The book serves as a warning to its readers that the country is possibly already in the pro This is a book that should perhaps be urgent, necessary reading for people born and raised in the India of the last 20-30 years: this is the age group which constitutes the young productive workforce of the nation contributing to its flourishing economy, which is also in charge of making important electoral and societal decisions that could be responsible for damaging the very foundations of the republic. The book serves as a warning to its readers that the country is possibly already in the process of decay with respect to its democratic ideals, and is being usurped on all fronts with ideologies from the right which are bent on destroying the various protections and buffers that have kept the diverse Multi-ethnic/religious/linguistic republic intact. In the quest for a cocktail of vanity, applause, a selfish concentration of wealth-power and bare opportunism for the many, Hindutva according to the author is a potent recipe for disaster that would not only slowly destroy the fragile democracy built and nurtured since India’s independence, but also possibly ravage its unity and dismember the country into multiple units. The author justifies the rationale for his thought through the prism of recent events that have occurred since the BJP came to power since 2014. He argues that the RSS, the cultural body behind the Hindutva project has managed to subvert almost all of the institutions and co-opt them in the cause of building the new Hindu India which is a more developed mirror of the neighbouring Islamic Pakistan. The author dedicates the first part of the book to explain the reasons behind the rise of the RSS and BJP, and attributes them to the decadence and corruption of successive Congress governments which increasingly pandered to the wealthy and left the underclasses with an ever decreasing share of the economic pie. The tenets of secularism which are a necessary prerequisite to the maintenance of India as a functioning democracy, have progressively been used to pander to minorities leading to the slow and steady fuming of the majority in cases like the Shah Bano ruling and the events in old pockets of Hyderabad through the yesteryears. Dynastic rule and dictatorial policies of Indira Gandhi fastened the process of this disillusion. The advent of the Manmohan Singh governments(along with his part in the 91 liberation of the economy) left India ever more unequal with the corporates indulging in massive corruption and buying off the executive, and in parallel the crushing of the Naxalite movement through the creation of the brutal paramilitary force Salwa Judum. And on the educational policy front, the romanticisation and brushing off of the recent history of the country through the Mughal era provided a stark contrast to the uncomfortable realities that people heard from outside educational institutions. All these reasons and many more, led to a fertile ground for the masses from both the middle and lower classes to shed off reason and rationale, and flock to the ideology of Hindutva which purported to provide solutions and palliatives to all these issues. The rich and the powerful in terms of old and new wealth, have always mostly been in support of the Hindutva project which seeks to place them back at the helm through concentration of power. This is what is explained in the second part of the book: the way in which the Hindutva ideology propagated and idealised by the RSS and put in practice by the BJP through the vehicle of Narendra Modi, has successfully diluted the implementation of the constitutional goals of the republic, weakened the pillars on which it stands and subverted and co-opted institutions like the RBI, the Army, UGC, educational institutes to name a few in order to advance its goals. The militaristic fetish towards the aggressive parts of the Hindu religion, have been used to demonise and intimidate minorities and wage mini-wars against the equally rabid Pakistan. Along with the push for the Hindu nation, the underclasses in India have been utilised for doing the dirty work and being the footsoldiers for mayhem during incidents like the Babri demolition, riots and cow related killings in the north and border skirmishes and strikes. All the while, BJP ministers seem to harp on about ancient glories like atomic discoveries during the time of the Mahabharata and other ridiculous pseudo-scientific theories which are now accepted as mainstream due to the subversion of various educational national institutes through the filling of academic roles with unqualified individuals supporting the government ideology. India is soon heading towards a plutocracy or a dictatorship (aided by the fact that protections (quotas/subsidies) for the underclasses have been progressively getting worse) ruled by the minute proportion of the powerful. The majority is being fed propaganda, hollow culture and hate through the prisms of religion. The continuation of this for the next few years would according to the author lead to grave problems for the country and our generation might have to pay a massive price for it: possibly a breakdown of the republic too. PS: There’d be a huge swath of people who say this is all baseless fear mongering and would religiously spin all of the facts given in the book with alt-explanations. This blinding of alternate perspectives and twisting/ignorance of facts between people of opposite ideologies has been going on everywhere the world over right now. Most ‘facts’ though are objective, and expert sources would point to single explanations. As are given by references spread throughout this book, which should be checked by sceptics.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Umesh Kesavan

    This short debut work is a hard-hitting recap of the Indian story and warns us of the dangerous turns our republic is taking today. The author's classy turn of phrase makes the book a must read. (Example : "The future of the state was mortgaged to the presumption that Indians would continue to respond to history's unresolved knots with the same self-possession as the republic's founders"). The book chronologically documents the dismemberment of the republic by it's leaders since independence wit This short debut work is a hard-hitting recap of the Indian story and warns us of the dangerous turns our republic is taking today. The author's classy turn of phrase makes the book a must read. (Example : "The future of the state was mortgaged to the presumption that Indians would continue to respond to history's unresolved knots with the same self-possession as the republic's founders"). The book chronologically documents the dismemberment of the republic by it's leaders since independence with special focus on the present Prime Minister. The author's warnings regarding a temple in Ayodhya and Article 370 have already come true since the book was published. The book is a Indian version of Orwell's "1984" except that Komireddi's book is no fiction.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Anil Swarup

    Meticulously researched and brilliantly articulated. One may not fully agree with conclusions arrived at by the author in his terming India as "Malevolent Republic" but the arguments he outs forth and the evidence he adduces makes for a compelling reading. Komireddy holds no punches and castigates every Prime Minister but most of the pages are dedicated to the current state of affairs. According to the author, "Indira was animated most of all by despotic impulse". He appreciates Modi who he feel Meticulously researched and brilliantly articulated. One may not fully agree with conclusions arrived at by the author in his terming India as "Malevolent Republic" but the arguments he outs forth and the evidence he adduces makes for a compelling reading. Komireddy holds no punches and castigates every Prime Minister but most of the pages are dedicated to the current state of affairs. According to the author, "Indira was animated most of all by despotic impulse". He appreciates Modi who he feels "galvanized stagnant foreign relations from the moment he was elected". He appreciates Modi's "decisiveness" but thereafter he goes on to pick holes in almost everything done by him, beginning with Foreign Policy that according to the author "fell prey to the prime minister's vanity, and national interest became indistinguishable from narcissism". He also holds Modi responsible for belittling and destroying every institution to promote his own interest. Komireddy believes that as "India moves under Modi from defective secularism to de facto Hindu supremacism, it can no longer invoke the foundational argument of the state to retain non-Hindus within its fold". He sees no hope in the Congress as well as it "has taken to mimicking the BJP". This statement comes after his earlier assertion in the book that "Modi's most spectacular achievement has been the Congressisation of the BJP".

  9. 4 out of 5

    Shivanshu Singh

    Malevolent republic is a terrifying and hard-hitting account of the political, social, and religious landscape of India, casting merciless eyes upon all prime ministers, from Nehru to Modi, with no corner left untouched. We do perceive pride as a legitimate emotion in the national context. This is the kind of book that would force us to recognize the other side of the coin: shame. Should we not be ashamed that even after 7 decades of independence, much of this country still struggle to put bread Malevolent republic is a terrifying and hard-hitting account of the political, social, and religious landscape of India, casting merciless eyes upon all prime ministers, from Nehru to Modi, with no corner left untouched. We do perceive pride as a legitimate emotion in the national context. This is the kind of book that would force us to recognize the other side of the coin: shame. Should we not be ashamed that even after 7 decades of independence, much of this country still struggle to put bread on the plate. Misogyny and identity division continue to tear us apart. It is true that our democracy is showing its strain, but these raptures are not only given by the current political dispensation. We have been afflicted for all its years of existence. We owe to ourselves to face our affliction. So much that gets wrong gets normalized so fast. We must tear away that layer of normalization and outrage again and outrage constantly and collectively. The author's informed and honest chronological account of events that made India what it is today, starting with his poignant personal reflection in the prologue, make it intensely readable. He takes no prisoners. While I do disagree with some parts, especially the characterization of liberalization, his clinical approach compels us to look inwards with the critical eye if we want to recover as a nation and give ourselves a reason to be proud Indian.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Khubaibliophile

    A crash course in the New India. This book is terrifyingly honest.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Aurobind Narendran

    A polemic. No nuance at all.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jyotirmoy Gupta

    It is a quick and decent read. Though the author is loud in some parts; he mostly presents a very objective view discerning the events of the past. His indignation is equal to both Congress's nepotism and BJP's majoritarian politics. There are some pretty interesting one liners such as "When Europeans loot India it is called Imperialism but when Asians do it, it is called Cultural exchange", "Indira suspended the constitution, but Modi wants to rewrite the constitution".

  13. 4 out of 5

    A Man Called Ove

    3.5/5 A chapter each on Indira+Sanjay, Rajiv, Narsimha Rao, and Manmohan Singh comprise the first half of the book. While the chapter on Indira also contained some thoughts on Nehru, I think India’s longest serving PM also deserved a separate chapter. Unlike most “left-liberals” who consider ordinary Indians as ignorant fools, the author is quite frank with the problems with Indian “secularism” which is appeasement by another name. This section was worth reading purely and refreshing for its hon 3.5/5 A chapter each on Indira+Sanjay, Rajiv, Narsimha Rao, and Manmohan Singh comprise the first half of the book. While the chapter on Indira also contained some thoughts on Nehru, I think India’s longest serving PM also deserved a separate chapter. Unlike most “left-liberals” who consider ordinary Indians as ignorant fools, the author is quite frank with the problems with Indian “secularism” which is appeasement by another name. This section was worth reading purely and refreshing for its honesty and erudition. And my rating is generous bcoz of this section. The second half was a scorching criticism of Narendra Modi - the CM and PM. While I do feel disillusioned and dejected with Modi “sarkar”, I felt the criticism was a bit harsh but was worth reading as the larger points were true. Beats me why it didnt have a chapter on Vajpayeeji ! What is the alternate if you detest the lies and hypocrisy of the “left-liberals” ? I wonder if the cure was worse than the disease. When will we conservatives create an intellectual tradition of our own. PS:- I still trust the NDTV and The Hindu for facts while disregarding their opinions. In general, I avoid Indian news media altogether while checking for news on corona vaccine/treatments.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jake Goretzki

    Depressing reading and enjoyably cutting. Modi: what an absolute shitshow. Part early Milosevic: ethnic baiting, bravado and majoritarianism. Part Corbyn: that exasperating, PR-buffed veneer of silver-haired decency amid the masterful dogwhistling and studied tactical silence when confronted with the race-baiting and violence of his supporters. Like Corbyn too, for all the aura of the saint, he's equally verifiably fucking useless outside his game-playing and rabble-rousing, whether we're talkin Depressing reading and enjoyably cutting. Modi: what an absolute shitshow. Part early Milosevic: ethnic baiting, bravado and majoritarianism. Part Corbyn: that exasperating, PR-buffed veneer of silver-haired decency amid the masterful dogwhistling and studied tactical silence when confronted with the race-baiting and violence of his supporters. Like Corbyn too, for all the aura of the saint, he's equally verifiably fucking useless outside his game-playing and rabble-rousing, whether we're talking about withdrawing banknotes from circulation at the drop of a hat (at massive cost to life) or risible attempts at shortcutting diplomacy with Pakistan. A successful economy can redeem a lot, sure. But, my god, the parallels with Yugoslavia are pretty tempting. What a noble thing that republic's constitution seems. What a crank clusterfuck that man is. The man makes Donald Trump look like Angela Merkel.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Vinayak Hegde

    An indictment of the Indian republic and it's rulers from Nehru to Modi in these troubled times. It is a scathing polemic series of essays that starts with the author's Muslim friend who is disillusioned by the promise of India. This is, unfortunately, the story of not just Muslims but also Dalits, Middle class and others who have been continually been let down by the political class. The book then spirals into the evils of Nehru's policies and his cowardice in dealing with issues head-on which l An indictment of the Indian republic and it's rulers from Nehru to Modi in these troubled times. It is a scathing polemic series of essays that starts with the author's Muslim friend who is disillusioned by the promise of India. This is, unfortunately, the story of not just Muslims but also Dalits, Middle class and others who have been continually been let down by the political class. The book then spirals into the evils of Nehru's policies and his cowardice in dealing with issues head-on which led to the Kashmir issue. It also traces the rise of Hindutva (possibly) culminating in the rise of Modi in recent times. While the first half of the book is readable. The second half becomes quite repetitive without adding anything new to the narrative. Also, I felt the rise of Indira and Rajiv and their mishaps have not been explored in more detail. This would have made the book better and more coherent. I agree with the title of the book that the Indian republic has been malevolent and condescending towards its citizens. And the fact that the citizens should not be complacent that the secular idea of India will survive all storms and like Yugoslavia, the dismemberment of that idea can be fast and sudden. It is a warning and also a call-to-arms for these troubled times.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Chaitanya Sethi

    The past five years have shattered so many illusions, dispelled so much fog. We can begin to accept how we arrived here :a journey lined with corruption, cowardly concessions to religious nationalists, demeaning bribes to the minorities, self-wounding distortions of the past and wholesale abandonment of the many for the few. K.S. Komireddi's book is a bleak, almost dystopian take on India and how it has come to be where it is. It traces the follies of its leaders right from Nehru's time and syste The past five years have shattered so many illusions, dispelled so much fog. We can begin to accept how we arrived here :a journey lined with corruption, cowardly concessions to religious nationalists, demeaning bribes to the minorities, self-wounding distortions of the past and wholesale abandonment of the many for the few. K.S. Komireddi's book is a bleak, almost dystopian take on India and how it has come to be where it is. It traces the follies of its leaders right from Nehru's time and systematically establishes a narrative to explain why we are where we are. The book is short but well-written and annotated sufficiently to trace all the claims he makes. But it is so depressing to read that I actively stayed up to finish it because I could not endure the sense of helplessness it made me feel. It is the kind of book that when you finish reading, you just want to curl up in bed, put the covers on, and try to get some sleep without getting lost in the spiral of negative thoughts. The worst/best part? I was convinced by what he said.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Vani Kalra

    Anyone who is concerned with what's happening in india today should read this book. Everyone who's worried scared and sickened by the state of our nation today should read it

  18. 5 out of 5

    Nishant

    "But the good thing about bad times is clarifiers. We can see where we stand." This book is illuminating and depressing, but at the same time necessary. Komireddi seeks to explain, or atleast chart out, why India is now an actively Hindu nationalist republic. Reading this book I started to lament my passivity with history, post-Independence Indian history in particular, because so many things that happen today are rooted in it. The book explores the formation of India and Pakistan, Nehru's ideali "But the good thing about bad times is clarifiers. We can see where we stand." This book is illuminating and depressing, but at the same time necessary. Komireddi seeks to explain, or atleast chart out, why India is now an actively Hindu nationalist republic. Reading this book I started to lament my passivity with history, post-Independence Indian history in particular, because so many things that happen today are rooted in it. The book explores the formation of India and Pakistan, Nehru's idealism that was superposed with costly missteps, the dynastic fervor of the Congress and the regimes of Indira and Rajiv Gandhi, Rao's embrace of neo-liberalism, and it's ultimate realization in Manmohan Singh's complete obeisance to the markets. Komireddi ties together all of these different regimes thematically by trying to understand how Hindu nationalism was fostered under each one of them, and how the ideals of India's founding were slowly chipped at. Then, the book explains how Modi and his enforcers have undermined democracy, secularism, and the idea of the republic. This book is a good compilation of arguments, substantiated by events that are too ridiculous or wild to seem true. But that is the state of India today, where we have to often do a double take while reading headlines. "Did he actually say that?", "Is he honestly going to do this?" are common questions I've asked myself time and time again. But what I realized, after reading this short history is that I shouldn't be surprised. What is happening now is what Hindu nationalists have envisioned for decades. And I think, as Komireddi stresses multiple times in the book, an honest appraisal of our history is the first step towards doing something to change the present.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Uday Kanth

    I do not recall who planted the thought in my head that part of this book was an alt-history. It's nothing of the sort. Anyway, having attended the author's panel at the Hyderabad Literary Festival this year, I was already sold on reading this. And glad I did. This should be mandatory reading for anyone who's looking to get an eagle's eye summary of the Indian politics since attaining independence. Similar to what Yuval achieved with Sapiens, but with the Indian political scenario. It's a short I do not recall who planted the thought in my head that part of this book was an alt-history. It's nothing of the sort. Anyway, having attended the author's panel at the Hyderabad Literary Festival this year, I was already sold on reading this. And glad I did. This should be mandatory reading for anyone who's looking to get an eagle's eye summary of the Indian politics since attaining independence. Similar to what Yuval achieved with Sapiens, but with the Indian political scenario. It's a short read but each chapter packs a lot to process. The author is unabashed, unbiased, and relentless in his pursuit of the course of history. Several truth bombs evoke discomfort and some even dread, if you manage to keep up with the pace. A major chunk is indeed reserved for He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, and there's so many interesting episodes that paint a picture of his utter inadequacy. These are the things that do not become sensational news in the media and thus pass by the common public. India's tryst with Nepal and Tibet, for example, were the most telling of the failure of our foreign policy. The book ends on a pretty bleak note. One thing for sure is that once you have people fighting over what is moral and what is not, there is mostly no hope for a magical solution to the deep peril we seem to be heading to. We'll just have to see this through. The language, yes, might be a bit too erudite but this is a serious history book anyway. It still makes for a great thriller of a read and highly recommended!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Anushka Mitra

    The first thing that intrigued me once I started reading this was the author’s unconventional education. His father sent him to a madrasa for a short while as a matter of principle. The book opens with a moving personal anecdote, however, that is where the personal ends and then you are left gasping by Komireddi’s razor sharp analysis of the Indian Politics since independence. He is often polemical, but not without reason or arguments. He does not go easy on any of the Prime Ministers that he di The first thing that intrigued me once I started reading this was the author’s unconventional education. His father sent him to a madrasa for a short while as a matter of principle. The book opens with a moving personal anecdote, however, that is where the personal ends and then you are left gasping by Komireddi’s razor sharp analysis of the Indian Politics since independence. He is often polemical, but not without reason or arguments. He does not go easy on any of the Prime Ministers that he discusses; whom he uses as the vessels to recount this short history of the Indian republic. The author is not afraid to call a spade a spade and does not gloss over uncomfortable truths that may otherwise provoke ‘left-liberals’. It is a succinct and an extremely important read in these times. However, I am most in awe of the language. The prose is delightful and Komireddi brings back eloquence to Indian nonfiction where often the beauty of the language is looked over for content. This book is stylish and holds your attention without attempting to creep in any bias. The book is not without it’s flaws. At times, the author does seem to infer generalizations larger than the evidence permits, the sensationalism could have been avoided at places and, if you are looking for solutions, you will be disappointed. I however, assure you that the historical account as well as the author’s old-world, stylish prose will compensate for any such shortcomings. Highly recommended.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Raza

    Part of subcontinent that thought it's better than the rest gets a reality check by Mr. M. Things don't go so well (read really really bad) for India, and blaming it on it's brother who left years ago to setup shop next door to find new ways of screwing things up, gets old pretty fast. Author likes to believe India was secular and I like to believe I was loved by my family, unfortunately, decades have proved us both wrong. But the book is really interesting, obviously opinionated but then anything Part of subcontinent that thought it's better than the rest gets a reality check by Mr. M. Things don't go so well (read really really bad) for India, and blaming it on it's brother who left years ago to setup shop next door to find new ways of screwing things up, gets old pretty fast. Author likes to believe India was secular and I like to believe I was loved by my family, unfortunately, decades have proved us both wrong. But the book is really interesting, obviously opinionated but then anything interesting usually is. It tells a very coherent story which will keep you engaged (a tall order for a history book) and will be a resource for diving further into different topics on the subject.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Pukhraj Singh

    This book is a loud, grand finale to 2019. A nation is an indulgent dream and its history illusory. Komireddi, acutely aware of such trappings, doesn't tap into hope, aspiration or some other lofty ideal; he dives into the deepest recesses of our fears, insecurities, prejudices and hate to debunk the idea that India's divisive, sectarian past could be split into epochs. If continuity is the biggest ploy available to the historians, then Komireddi has scripted an ignominious fairy tale. It's a ra This book is a loud, grand finale to 2019. A nation is an indulgent dream and its history illusory. Komireddi, acutely aware of such trappings, doesn't tap into hope, aspiration or some other lofty ideal; he dives into the deepest recesses of our fears, insecurities, prejudices and hate to debunk the idea that India's divisive, sectarian past could be split into epochs. If continuity is the biggest ploy available to the historians, then Komireddi has scripted an ignominious fairy tale. It's a racy tribute to our collective bloodlust...a post-truth treatment of objective analysis. You get to understand the Right by studying the Left, and vice-versa. Komireddi balances his strange exposition of historical causation in post-Independence India with a compelling stockpile of endnotes.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Sadiq Kazi

    One of the most objectively written histories of modern India - since Independence. Chronicles where our polity has gone wrong, since Indira Gandhi's era to get us where we are now - risking the loss of the very essence of our social, secular fabric. The book also wisely offers insights where our left-leaning historians have gone wrong, brushing the past under the carpet in a manner that has emboldened the rabid, communal elements of the right wing. Essential reading for anyone interested in mod One of the most objectively written histories of modern India - since Independence. Chronicles where our polity has gone wrong, since Indira Gandhi's era to get us where we are now - risking the loss of the very essence of our social, secular fabric. The book also wisely offers insights where our left-leaning historians have gone wrong, brushing the past under the carpet in a manner that has emboldened the rabid, communal elements of the right wing. Essential reading for anyone interested in modern India.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Laila Rodenbeck

    Powerfully and lucidly written, and impressively fearless, this short book really tears the wool away from Indian history and politics. Essential read for anyone who's interested in understanding Modern India: the rise of Hindutva; the demise of the Nehruvian project; the fattening of the Congress Party's greed; and Modi's ascent in the last 10-15 years.

  25. 5 out of 5

    AC

    A brief, passionate, fact-filled (albeit, unabashedly polemical) indictment of Narenda Modi, the BJP, and the current, dismal state of Indian politics. A bit hard to find, as I don’t think it’s been released in paperback yet.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Sainath Sunil

    splendid narration and very balanced. highlights the historical wrongs that were glossed over by the historians and presents a clear road map of how things are headed. very contemporary, does not take sides and does not shy away from facts. great read

  27. 4 out of 5

    Abinash

    It's not a book with prescriptions. It has a history of devolution of India from the ideal that our founders imagined, to the mess that 70 years of mis-rule has produced. It's an interesting read. It doesn't have that much of a bias, but the author certainly sees Modi in dimmest of lights.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Karan Sood

    Passionate and cutting commentary from Komireddi. One of my favourite non-fiction reads of the year. Vital for anyone seeking to understand how India has gone down the path of Modi, and how he is destroying the secularity and democracy it once stood for in South Asia.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Sandeep Kumar

    A well-written book. I had to refer to a dictionary (reading on a Kindle helped) many times. Also, the sentences are sometimes too complicated by the overuse of commas.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Udhay Sankar

    Searing account of India's post colonial journey!

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