When you think about developing economies, the primary thought that springs to mind is how different the political landscape is from the West. In the West, it’s hard to imagine that there is no issue of political rivalry, there are no epic battles and there is no glory for those who are good at winning. In developing economies, such as Venezuela and India, there is all of that and more. Venezuela has had a troubled revolutionary past, where it has been led by so many colourful leaders but until recently the environment was a dangerous one. Now, there is more growth than before, there is a good and enlightened idea about the country, not only in the West but also the Far East. India, similarly has seen significant growth in the consciousness of many here and it has, in addition to all of that, seen a lot of shady politicians trying to exert their influence in government and this has left the country remain poor and devastated for decades. In neighbouring Bangladesh, the political climate has been more marred by corruption stemming from bureaucracy than for India because the state is weaker. These are the kind of legacies that the British Empire left to it’s former colonies because it found the states to be too difficult to rule.
But that was in the past and now there is a new resurgence of admiration for these countries and it’s culture nationally and globally, because of good development, pioneered by the West (and the Far East). In this book, as a reader you can imagine yourself stationed in that time frame in India, right after the country became independent from the British Raj and when the country saw signs of good development, miraculously. In the earliest days of the British Raj, the Muslim League was all about dividing Hindus and Muslims and ruling. They had a unique vision, where they believed that the two religions are not meant to communicate, they are not meant to marry, have friendly neighborhood relationships with each other and that is how the League will rule. Disagreements over this, with the British Raj led the Raj to declare the nation independent and they lost nothing and gained only the failures of the statesmen unable to govern India, which was no wound worth writing home about because Great Britain has seen so much of it, everywhere. In India today, Hindus and Muslims do eat in each other’s homes, they do play their favourite national sport, cricket, in a team built of men from different religions. The book is comprehensive in it’s painting of India from that time – what happened when the British Raj had no interest in leaving such a young, colonized state despite cries for self-government from Indians but left it all in a sudden in 1947, declaring it ungovernable and then India found means to see economic growth because of foreign policy.
Six months later Hindu extremists murdered Gandhi and religious violence made lives hard for people of the state; so many people were killed because of religious violence and India now had to think about honouring the Hindu majority and their demands just to survive and find ways to bring harmony to the Muslim population. There was only oppression and detaching India from good relationships with the West, as much as possible. Those sixty years were not about governing India with single-mindedness: it was about living in circumstances that made it possible to imagine only authoritative rule in India, filled with a population of only Hindus or become a state torn apart into numerous fragments. This legacy is set to torment India for years to come because that is what India was post-independence from the British Raj, that the book manages to bring back to life once more in a political angle. In my opinion, that is quite the rare thing because foreign policy can only develop and grow India, it cannot erase it’s hard past or the British Raj cannot come back and declare India to be a state worth governing politically.