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Makers of Modern India Hardcover – April 30, 2011

3.9 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"The striking thing about modern India is that the men and women who made its history also wrote most authoritatively about it." So begins one of the first major anthologies of Indian political writing, impressively annotated by Guha (India After Gandhi). The book recovers and elucidates obscure political writings that "had a defining impact on the formation of the Indian Republic" and demonstrate the diversity of India. A variety of rhetorical styles adds to the complexity and liveliness of the collection: Syed Ahmad Kahn's blunt political rhetoric on Muslim separatism abuts Rammohan Roy's elegant articulations on gender inequality. Though providing a wide gamut of political, religious, and regional writings, the collection is marred by a paucity of female voices—only two women are included. An indulgent focus on Gandhi is punctuated by welcome excerpts by other gifted writers: Jayaprakash Narayan and his incisive critique of Indian political apathy toward Tibet in the earlier stages of Chinese annexation, and Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay's excerpt on communalism and the class underpinnings of partition. Despite the vastness of the material and the limitations imposed by its structure (organized by individual not by theme or chronology), the book is an engaging and illuminating read, and brings to the fore both the diversity of India and the relevance of its modern political origins. (Apr.)
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Guha has produced a pioneering anthology that provides an indispensable introduction to the rich diversity of Indian political argument and a testament to the intellectual ferment out of which India emerged. While interest in the contours of India's democracy grows, there is little high-quality material available on the political traditions that have constituted it. Makers of Modern India admirably fills this gap and goes further, offering a map of modern Indian political debate. (Sunil Khilnani, Johns Hopkins University)

One of the first major anthologies of Indian political writing, impressively annotated by Guha. The book recovers and elucidates obscure political writings that "had a defining impact on the formation of the Indian Republic" and demonstrate the diversity of India. A variety of rhetorical styles adds to the complexity and liveliness of the collection: Syed Ahmad Kahn's blunt political rhetoric on Muslim separatism abuts Rammohan Roy's elegant articulations on gender inequality...An engaging and illuminating read, and brings to the fore both the diversity of India and the relevance of its modern political origins. (Publishers Weekly 2011-02-28)

A treasure for every thinking Indian and for the world which is increasingly curious about this country and its people. (The Tribune)

A highly readable volume...[A] perfect bedside book. (The Telegraph)

[A] stimulating work...Incisive and informative. (The New Indian Express)

One of the aims of the book, as Guha points out, is to "make the Indian experience more central to global debates." Another is to acquaint Indians with the rich political tradition of their comparative recent past. Makers of Modern India does both of these very well. (The Times of India)

[A]n extremely readable and accessible collection. (India Today)

Readers in the west will find some familiar personalities here, including Gandhi himself, Jawaharlal Nehru, India's secular and liberal-minded first prime minister, and Rabindranath Tagore, the Bengali poet and Nobel laureate. But they will also encounter much less well-known and equally distinguished figures, such as BR Ambedkar, the articulate spokesman of formerly untouchable Hindus, or Dalits, and the main architect of India's extraordinary constitution that in 1949 bestowed equal rights upon all its citizens. As an anthology of Indian political debates, Makers of Modern India makes for instructive reading. (Pankaj Mishra Financial Times 2011-01-22)

Guha's prose is compelling. He has collected the writings and speeches of a range of influential personalities in the struggle to free India from its colonial yoke and set it on a new path as a modern nation. His introductory remarks are short, informative and enlightening without being intrusive or overwhelming. The result is a skillfully edited collection that will serve as an erudite introduction to the foundations of modern India. (Ramesh Thakur The Australian 2011-06-01)

India has been fortunate in the abundance of thinkers who wrote extensively, and often evocatively, on the fundamental issues raised by the task of forging a modern nation from a severely fragmented and backward colony. Guha presents well-chosen excerpts, expertly contextualized by insightful introductions, from the writings and speeches of nineteen such thinker-activists who reflected, often in conflict with each other, on the critical dilemmas of their time: colonialism, religion, language, caste and Untouchability, the status of women, grass-roots governance, electoral systems, regional discord and India's engagement with the world...Makers of Modern India is not meant to be closed-ended, but it effectively brings together the great arguers, fiercely independent in thought and action, from whose disputatious but educated debate emerged the political traditions and compromises that underpin India's complex reality. (Navtej Sarna Times Literary Supplement 2011-06-24)

Makers of Modern India will be a valuable resource for all who seek to understand modern India. (R. N. Sharma Choice 2011-09-01)

In Makers of Modern India, the first major anthology of Indian social and political thought, Ramachandra Guha, an established historian, brings together writings and speeches from 19 key political figures of the 19th and 20th centuries to highlight the range and diversity of ideas about the forming nation...Makers of Modern India begins with an extensive introduction and includes biographical sketches of each figure and guides for further reading. Guha is a learned historian whose writing and subject matter do not fail to captivate. (Visi Tilak Indian American 2011-05-01)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Belknap Press (March 31, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674052463
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674052468
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.5 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,513,157 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This is the author's next contribution to modern Indian history after his brilliant work titled 'India after Gandhi'. Here, Dr.Guha presents a selection of the contributions of nineteen eminent Indians who have shaped and made a defining impact on our country's outlook through their ideas, vision and expositions on the diverse subjects of caste, class, religion, nationalism, colonialism, democracy and secularism. The approach is somewhat different in this book because Dr. Guha simply introduces each of them through a short biographical sketch with a few of his own remarks about their role in shaping India and then lets them speak in their own words. It is wonderful to read Dr.Ambedkar, Mahatma Gandhi, Syed Ahmed Khan, C.R etc in their own words and see how civilized and erudite their discourses have been.

One of the striking things for me in this book has been the realization that how lopsided the teaching of history has been to us in India in our schools and colleges. I considered myself a reasonably well-read person in contemporary Indian history till I read this book. The seminal contributions of persons like Tarabhai Shinde, Hamid Dalwai and Syed Ahmed Khan were largely unknown to me till I read this book. I would have included Verrier Elwin to this list as well but for the fact that I chanced to read about him in great detail in Dr.Guha's book on the man titled 'Savaging the Civilized'. I think the book is an essential read for most Indians to learn about their own contemporary history. It will help middle-class Indians overcome their sustained negativity about our nation as well as get a more balanced perspective on our achievements and shortcomings and faults.

The book shows the democratic spirit of Gandhi in encouraging the Congress party to include Dr.
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Format: Paperback
One who is not familiar with the history of India should not read it, as it gives a totally biased and wrong idea. Those who are all important, Ram Mohan Roy, Swami Vivekananda, JC Bose, SC Bose, Surendranath Banerjee, Bipin Pal, Bankim Chandra Chatterjee, are all missing. This is just another propaganda book for the Gandhi-Nehru family.
Those who know the history of India, they do not need this garbage.
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Format: Hardcover
The diversity, originality, and volume of content written by our founding fathers is really heartening. The subject they wrote on were the teething concerns of their days, and touched upon all facets such as freedom, social justice, caste, gender, and India's standing /role in the world. Seems like a whole lot of original and revolutionary thinker-politicians came together in those days, and we have stopped producing the breed of original thinker-politicians.
Just the 4 great men- Jawaharlal Nehru, M.K. Gandhi, B.R. Ambedkar and Rabindranath Tagore have wrote close to 50, 000 volumes on diverse topics.
If only the petty contemporary politicians who claim to be followers of these great men & women had read the writings/speeches of these great people. When Guha introduces, he writes, "The tradition that this book has showcased is dead. No politician now alive can think or write in an original way or even interesting fashion about the direction Indian society and politics is or should be taking."
In this book, Ramachandra Guha has introduced and edited writing (and speeches) of 19 men and women, who he thinks were the makers of modern India. There are a few surprising additions, and a few omissions. Without delving into why there were a few added or deleted from this list, we can look at the heterogeneity of the their thoughts and their views on causes close to them.
The book shows the diversity and originality of thought, the "argumentative" or debating nature of these men/women, and a compendium of ideas on wide variety of subjects.
Guha has tried to tie the book together with his introduction and editions, but still this is a collection rather than one cohesive, flowing tome.
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Format: Hardcover
Men and women carefully picked by Dr. Guha in his book range from socialists, comunists, anarchists, feminists, communalists, radicals and reformers. All the stalwarts covered in this book truly deserve in their own right to be called a 'maker' of India, as we know today. From Ram Mohan Roy to BR Ambedkar to Tarabai Shinde to Hamid Dalwai, the ability and courage shown by each of them in pushing the boundaries of society, community and tradition, their unique vision far ahead of their times, the passion and zeal evident in their beautiful writings and speeches is heartening. One cannot but feel proud of India's glorious past. Yes the sense of disillusionment and disppointment deepens as we see that we are in some way or the other even today we are working towards introducing same or similar changes, but with a much dimished leadership at the top. As common, educated Indians today, we read less, deate less, think less and care less, I clearly see a more materialistic India and a more mercenary Indian.

Most of us are familiar with the works of Gandhi and Nehru but many of are not aware our of many unsung heroes and heroines, especially Tarabai Shinde and Kamladevi Chattopadhyay, they prove that India has had some forceful and stirring feminists.

A compilation certainly worth reading and reflecting upon.
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