To change the course of India, we have to first inform and educate ourselves. I have put together a Reading List. These are books I came across in the past year, and they help in different ways – from learning an accurate – or at the least a less biased- history of India (the one they never teach us in history books in schools) to organising ourselves to understanding how the psychology of crowds work to learning about how to make ideas sticky and change people’s thinking.
The first three books provide insights into Indian and American history.
- A New History of India by Francois Gautier: A very different (and more honest) take on India’s history. From the book’s description: “We see more and more today that Indian History has to be rewritten according to the latest linguistic and archaeological discoveries, if Indian children are to understand who they are and where they come from. We know now that not only the history of India’s beginnings were written by European colonizers, with an intention to downsize, downgrade and postdate Indian civilization, but that unfortunately, generation after generation of Indian historians, for their own selfish purposes, endorsed and perpetuated these wrong theories, such as the Aryan invasion, which divided India like nothing else, pitting South against North, Aryan against Dravidian, Untouchables against Brahmins. Hence this book, which we hope will lay the foundations for the next generation of Indian historians.”
- India: The Emerging Giant by Arvind Panagariya: This book traces the economic history of India since Independence through the policies of the various governments. This understanding will help us hold our past leaders accountable for diminishing the Indian star. From the book’s description: “Why did the early promise of the Indian economy not materialize and what led to its eventual turnaround? What policy initiatives have been undertaken in the last twenty years and how do they relate to the upward shift in the growth rate? What must be done to push the growth rate to double-digit levels? To answer these crucial questions, Arvind Panagariya offers a brilliant analysis of India’s economy over the last fifty years–from the promising start in the 1950s, to the near debacle of the 1970s (when India came to be regarded as a “basket case”), to the phenomenal about face of the last two decades. The author illuminates the ways that government policies have promoted economic growth (or, in the case of Indira Gandhi’s policies, economic stagnation), and offers insightful discussions of such key topics as poverty and inequality, tax reform, telecommunications (perhaps the single most important success story), agriculture and transportation, and the government’s role in health, education, and sanitation.”
- Upstream: The Ascendance of American Conservatism by Alfred Regnery: This track traces the rise of the Right in the US through the second half of the 20th century providing us with learnings on what we need to do in India. A quote from Paul Johnson about the book: “The rise of conservatism in the United States over the past half-century has been one of the most important political developments of the age — not only for America, but for the world. Much has been written about it, most of it under-researched and inaccurate. Alfred S. Regnery has now performed the invaluable task of writing a first-class and fully documented history of the movement. He describes its political and intellectual origins, its inventors, its leaders, its high and low points, and its achievements. He has a lot to say about the books and journals, the columnists and media commentators who drove it forward, and not least about the wealthy people and the foundations that supplied the financial means. In all, this is a valuable addition to our understanding of modern politics.”