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In Accidental India: A History of the Nation’s Passage through Crisis and Change, noted journalist-analyst, Shankkar Aiyar, examines India’s ascent through the paradigm of seven game changers: the economic liberalization of 1991, the Green Revolution of the sixties, the nationalization of banks in 1969, Operation Flood in the seventies, the mid-day meal scheme of 1982, the In Accidental India: A History of the Nation’s Passage through Crisis and Change, noted journalist-analyst, Shankkar Aiyar, examines India’s ascent through the paradigm of seven game changers: the economic liberalization of 1991, the Green Revolution of the sixties, the nationalization of banks in 1969, Operation Flood in the seventies, the mid-day meal scheme of 1982, the software revolution of the nineties, and the passing of the Right to Information Act in 2005. He argues that these turning points in the country’s history were not the result of foresight or careful planning but were rather the accidental consequences of major crises that had to be resolved at any cost.


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In Accidental India: A History of the Nation’s Passage through Crisis and Change, noted journalist-analyst, Shankkar Aiyar, examines India’s ascent through the paradigm of seven game changers: the economic liberalization of 1991, the Green Revolution of the sixties, the nationalization of banks in 1969, Operation Flood in the seventies, the mid-day meal scheme of 1982, the In Accidental India: A History of the Nation’s Passage through Crisis and Change, noted journalist-analyst, Shankkar Aiyar, examines India’s ascent through the paradigm of seven game changers: the economic liberalization of 1991, the Green Revolution of the sixties, the nationalization of banks in 1969, Operation Flood in the seventies, the mid-day meal scheme of 1982, the software revolution of the nineties, and the passing of the Right to Information Act in 2005. He argues that these turning points in the country’s history were not the result of foresight or careful planning but were rather the accidental consequences of major crises that had to be resolved at any cost.

30 review for Accidental India: A History of The Nation's Passage Through Crisis and Change

  1. 5 out of 5

    Anil Swarup

    A fascinating narration of watershed events in the Politco-Economic History since independence. The author sincerely believes that all major decisions relating to Indian Economy were taken when country's political masters were faced with a crisis. He lists out various examples to prove his point. According to the author, whether it was the Green Revolution in the late 60s, the White Revolution in the 70s or the opening up of the economy in early 90s, they were all born out of crisis. He comes up A fascinating narration of watershed events in the Politco-Economic History since independence. The author sincerely believes that all major decisions relating to Indian Economy were taken when country's political masters were faced with a crisis. He lists out various examples to prove his point. According to the author, whether it was the Green Revolution in the late 60s, the White Revolution in the 70s or the opening up of the economy in early 90s, they were all born out of crisis. He comes up with pretty fascinating observations. While explaining the "Milky Way", milk revolution by Varghese Kurien, he states that this revolution came about "because of a man who did not drink milk". How ironic. He also mentions that "Politicians tend to choose a solution that is electorally profitable, bureaucrats choose that which is convenient and public accepts that which is morally satisfying".

  2. 5 out of 5

    Nikhil

    I usually avoid books about politics, economics authored by Indian "Intellectuals" as I think, most(if not all) of them are heavily biased towards leftist ideology. Having said that, I was pleasantly surprised to find this book to have a balanced view point. Shankkar Aiyar keeps the reader focused on the facts without getting much into political ideologies. This book is a stunning report on how Indian government failed to provide basic necessities, economic and political freedoms to people and on I usually avoid books about politics, economics authored by Indian "Intellectuals" as I think, most(if not all) of them are heavily biased towards leftist ideology. Having said that, I was pleasantly surprised to find this book to have a balanced view point. Shankkar Aiyar keeps the reader focused on the facts without getting much into political ideologies. This book is a stunning report on how Indian government failed to provide basic necessities, economic and political freedoms to people and only acted when faced with existential crisis. From idiotic Nehruvian socialism to lethargic, incompetent and corrupt bureaucracy and politicians, the Indian people have been denied what they rightfully deserved. Shankkad Aiyar also highlights the major roll of bureaucracy in impeding the Indian growth story which goes unexplored as politicians are always blamed for governmental problems. Overall, in "Accidental India", author doesn't mince his words and gives an honest account of India's growth story after independence.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Pradeep Nair

    Very well researched, that's the hallmark of this book. It's not just opinions and comments. But lots of facts, that too properly attributed with footnotes. The author convincingly argues out the central theme that links the chapters of the book -- that India has made progress, only because the government had no option but to make those long-overdue crucial policy decisions that brought about the changes for the betterment of the people. The government never acted until a festering problem degene Very well researched, that's the hallmark of this book. It's not just opinions and comments. But lots of facts, that too properly attributed with footnotes. The author convincingly argues out the central theme that links the chapters of the book -- that India has made progress, only because the government had no option but to make those long-overdue crucial policy decisions that brought about the changes for the betterment of the people. The government never acted until a festering problem degenerated into a full-blown crisis and the authorities were forced to act. India would have reached much greater heights if government had listened to the right suggestions and took the right decisions at the right time.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Abhinav Srivastava

    The book is a bodhi tree for those who wish to enlighten themselves with the nitty-gritties of Indian polity and policies.A brilliant critique is proffered in the book by the author regarding Liberalization, Green and White revolution,Nationalization of Banks,Mid-day meal scheme,RTI,Software revolution and both the bird-eye view as well as worm-eye view are presented for each turning points. A must read for individuals who have cherished 'India Unbound' by Gurcharan Das. The book is a bodhi tree for those who wish to enlighten themselves with the nitty-gritties of Indian polity and policies.A brilliant critique is proffered in the book by the author regarding Liberalization, Green and White revolution,Nationalization of Banks,Mid-day meal scheme,RTI,Software revolution and both the bird-eye view as well as worm-eye view are presented for each turning points. A must read for individuals who have cherished 'India Unbound' by Gurcharan Das.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Priyanka Kulkarni

    Brilliant Read! Here's my review. http://sunshinebynight.blogspot.in/20... Brilliant Read! Here's my review. http://sunshinebynight.blogspot.in/20...

  6. 5 out of 5

    Douglas

    Highly recommended to understand how politics in India's has shaped the country. A lot of motivation to be more vigilant about potential crises. Highly recommended to understand how politics in India's has shaped the country. A lot of motivation to be more vigilant about potential crises.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Rohan Garg

    What a nice book about the modern politics and decision making processes of India. It was a very good description of the political ideologies, struggles and thought processes of the Indian leaders and how they made and then persisted with the incorrect decision of moving towards socialism and closed markets. It is also a really informative but hilarious commentary on the general incompetence and non-alignment of objectives of the great Indian bureaucracy. Most importantly, it gives the unsung he What a nice book about the modern politics and decision making processes of India. It was a very good description of the political ideologies, struggles and thought processes of the Indian leaders and how they made and then persisted with the incorrect decision of moving towards socialism and closed markets. It is also a really informative but hilarious commentary on the general incompetence and non-alignment of objectives of the great Indian bureaucracy. Most importantly, it gives the unsung heroes of our political history their dues and talks about how some of them, against all odds, created a platform for all of us to thrive upon. I hope that one day, as a nation, we would appreciate and celebrate the achievements of those unknown IAS officers and department secretaries through our course books, films and documentaries.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Santosh Mathew

    An exceptional review of India and how we got here... unbiased and very bold account which goes into details of how the progress happened. A definite must read for anyone interested in this country. Shankkar Aiyar is clearly a master in making drab statistics becoming meaningful by providing context, critique and background to them. Though he comes down very strongly on successive post independent india governments, he gives credit where it is due. No this is not just right wing propaganda but a An exceptional review of India and how we got here... unbiased and very bold account which goes into details of how the progress happened. A definite must read for anyone interested in this country. Shankkar Aiyar is clearly a master in making drab statistics becoming meaningful by providing context, critique and background to them. Though he comes down very strongly on successive post independent india governments, he gives credit where it is due. No this is not just right wing propaganda but a very honest look at the progress in the last 70 years (with ample prelude before independence too). He gives credit where it is due, esp where modern readers least expect (read chapter on RTI). Even the epilogue of this book is a classic with some shocking statistics.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Vinayak Hegde

    A well written book with extensive references how successive Indian governments only make (mostly) sound policy and take decisive actions only when compelled by a crisis. This unfortunate truth is revealed by a n extensive examination of the green revolution, operation flood, the economic liberalization of the 90s and the RTI act amongst others. The narrative covers policies very well and talks about the motivations and the flaws of the different actors in each of those policies sustaining intere A well written book with extensive references how successive Indian governments only make (mostly) sound policy and take decisive actions only when compelled by a crisis. This unfortunate truth is revealed by a n extensive examination of the green revolution, operation flood, the economic liberalization of the 90s and the RTI act amongst others. The narrative covers policies very well and talks about the motivations and the flaws of the different actors in each of those policies sustaining interest in what is usually a dry boring subject. The checks and balances and the interactions between the interactions between different parts of the government are very well covered. A quite good read of Indian policy making and it's history.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Deepanshu Aggarwal

    A must read for anyone who's interested in knowing India's 'Story' of offering economic growth & democratic rights to its citizens. This 'Story', as the author believes, is not a structured process in a policy paradigm, but a collection of 'aberrations' or accidents that were brought into existence by crises staring at the country's doorstep. This book contains seven such 'accidents' - economic liberalisation, bank nationalisation, green revolution, white revolution, midday meals scheme, growth A must read for anyone who's interested in knowing India's 'Story' of offering economic growth & democratic rights to its citizens. This 'Story', as the author believes, is not a structured process in a policy paradigm, but a collection of 'aberrations' or accidents that were brought into existence by crises staring at the country's doorstep. This book contains seven such 'accidents' - economic liberalisation, bank nationalisation, green revolution, white revolution, midday meals scheme, growth of IT-software industry and the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Hriday Buyakar

    Informative & Thought-Provoking The author picked up the most influential laws upto 2012 and described in detail what led to it. He shows how India went to the brink of a crisis before enacting those revolutionary acts. He discusses the problems faced by the country in 2012 and the opportunities that lay ahead.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Niraj kumar uppadhyay

    Logical analysis of events took place time to time in India. It led to in depth understanding of many issues and incidents that took place in India till date and also how our politicians' decision making affected its progress to modern India. Logical analysis of events took place time to time in India. It led to in depth understanding of many issues and incidents that took place in India till date and also how our politicians' decision making affected its progress to modern India.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Sarthak

    Accidental India provides a very good illustration into how India has shaped up to what is today. How policy has gone by and the extreme inertia in the system that yields only under extreme situations.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kumar Subham

    Easy read, narrative movement, detailed accounts. More than change-stories, the book is about the political, economic and mental battles that our policymakers underwent while bringing a major policy reform in India.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Naved Ali

    I enjoyed reading it. Digging down the history of India. Some accidents which made politicians to finally implement something positive for our country. Good to know about stalwarts like Kurien, Kamaraj, MGR, Indira.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Vinit

    A well researched insight into India's history ! A well researched insight into India's history !

  17. 4 out of 5

    Sai Shanker

    A thoroughly well researched book. Facts do the talking. Insightful! Must read for people wanting to know the major reforms that happened in our country. Epilogue is for everyone to introspect.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Vijay Gopal

    The book reviews some historic interventions in India: - the economic reforms of 1991 that almost doubled India’s “Hindu rate of growth” of roughly 3% to about 7%; - the Green Revolution that ended the spectre of famine and the “ship to mouth” existence that characterised food-aid to India; - the nationalisation of banks that helped reduce India’s poverty levels from 61% to 31% and boosted savings (now nearly 30%); - Operation Flood which made India the world’s largest producer of milk; - the mid-day The book reviews some historic interventions in India: - the economic reforms of 1991 that almost doubled India’s “Hindu rate of growth” of roughly 3% to about 7%; - the Green Revolution that ended the spectre of famine and the “ship to mouth” existence that characterised food-aid to India; - the nationalisation of banks that helped reduce India’s poverty levels from 61% to 31% and boosted savings (now nearly 30%); - Operation Flood which made India the world’s largest producer of milk; - the mid-day meal scheme that has helped boost literacy (88% for males and 74% for women in the age of 15-24); - the IT revolution that helped India grab nearly 67% of the current global IT market Shankkar Aiyar’s contention is that each one of these transformations was a result of a response to a crisis - not the result of a vision or planned effort. His basic argument is that Indians had to make things worse before they could make things better. And so in this racy book, Shankkar chronicles the misguided policies, the misbegotten results and then the final acceptance of a rational solution after trying every other irrational option. In crafting his narrative, Shankkar essentially looks at the rear-view mirror and traces the arc of missed opportunities and tragic failures. He marshals his research, highlights facts and weaves them into a fast-paced and easy read. I had stayed away from this book since I expected it to be a dreary “the glass is half empty” dirge. But as I read each chapter I was struck by the courage, skill and commitment by a host of personalities. The book provides a wealth of insights into the contributions of politicians (such as Manmohan Singh, Narasimha Rao, C Subramaniam, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Indira Gandhi, Morarji Desai, Rajiv Gandhi, Tribhuvan Das Patel, MGR, Sonia Gandhi); the role of technocrats (such as Verghese Kurien, father of India’s milk revolution; and N Vittal, who spearheaded the development of India’s telecom and IT sector) and the contribution of activists (such as Aruna Roy). The book could as well be written as an ode to these heroes - a “ Profiles in Courage” if you will (to borrow from JFK’s title). There is no doubt that there were anachronistic policies that shackled India, fuelled corruption and generated inefficiency; but the fact is that the system was changed and made to deliver. And it was the men and women chronicled in the book that made it happen. My contention is that book could have better spotlighted these heroes and served to be more inspirational and positive. Should you read this book? Yes. Read it to know what India went through and how the path to hell can be paved with good intentions. Read it to know how far we have come, and how much farther we could have gone. Read it above all, to learn how committed individuals - steeled with conviction and graced with some good luck - can just make the Indian elephant dance.

  19. 5 out of 5

    B

    Informative, Insightful, Delightful --- A product of quality research My first encounter with Shankkar Aiyar was in the pages of The New Indian Express back in 2012.His writing style immediately caught my attention. Piercing, informative and a little sarcastic. So I was looking to read more from him and this book was in my wish list for a long time. When I got this book, I was not disappointed. This book is truly interesting. It tells how our politicians/bureaucrats/countrymen tried to sabotage/pr Informative, Insightful, Delightful --- A product of quality research My first encounter with Shankkar Aiyar was in the pages of The New Indian Express back in 2012.His writing style immediately caught my attention. Piercing, informative and a little sarcastic. So I was looking to read more from him and this book was in my wish list for a long time. When I got this book, I was not disappointed. This book is truly interesting. It tells how our politicians/bureaucrats/countrymen tried to sabotage/propel the growth story of our country. Seven different stories - in a storytelling manner. The quality of research and author's pain must be saluted. Want to know more about India? Read this book after India After Gandhi: The History of the World's Largest Democracy.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Masen Production

    “I would not rate this as an outright scorcher BUT I do like the way the author has taken pains to evaluate India from a stand point 'of how it has emerged stronger as a Nation only due to crisis looming its sharp axe over Indian heads'. The crisis of Milk, Agriculture, Economy etc etc has all evolved & became runaway success thanks due to the looming crisis & not by design. The research is very detailed & the inference drawn merits the title "accidental India" (should be credited). I might not “I would not rate this as an outright scorcher BUT I do like the way the author has taken pains to evaluate India from a stand point 'of how it has emerged stronger as a Nation only due to crisis looming its sharp axe over Indian heads'. The crisis of Milk, Agriculture, Economy etc etc has all evolved & became runaway success thanks due to the looming crisis & not by design. The research is very detailed & the inference drawn merits the title "accidental India" (should be credited). I might not agree on some views BUT I must say that the author's interpretation of crisis management is Bang-on. India has never been a good crisis manager but a nation that has always taken the bull by its horns when no other option remained viable. A very good informative read. ”

  21. 5 out of 5

    Aashish

    India's post independence history and chain of events is very poorly documented. We rely on a handful of authors to understand what transpired post 1947. Some of them are establishment favorites and some are downright whimsical. In this background, this book written in journalistic style comes as a fresh one. The book is very well researched. The author provides persuasive arguments without politicizing the events. It should be read as a history of modern India and how we have been forced to alt India's post independence history and chain of events is very poorly documented. We rely on a handful of authors to understand what transpired post 1947. Some of them are establishment favorites and some are downright whimsical. In this background, this book written in journalistic style comes as a fresh one. The book is very well researched. The author provides persuasive arguments without politicizing the events. It should be read as a history of modern India and how we have been forced to alter policies at critical junctures.

  22. 5 out of 5

    A Man Called Ove

    A superb book that talks of 7 'accidental' turning points in India's history like liberalisation of 1991, Green & White (Amul/dairy) Revolutions, Midday-meal scheme etc Each has a chapter of around 40 pages detailing d history, politics, bureaucratic delays bcoz of ego and apathy and then d crisis which forced d hand. The author is fair in stating d facts and offers intelligent opinions despite being critical. Also liked d no nonsense style and d purposeful flow unlike d trend of light books nowad A superb book that talks of 7 'accidental' turning points in India's history like liberalisation of 1991, Green & White (Amul/dairy) Revolutions, Midday-meal scheme etc Each has a chapter of around 40 pages detailing d history, politics, bureaucratic delays bcoz of ego and apathy and then d crisis which forced d hand. The author is fair in stating d facts and offers intelligent opinions despite being critical. Also liked d no nonsense style and d purposeful flow unlike d trend of light books nowadays. The books is a fast read despite sticking to d subject n ignoring gimmicks. Worth a read !

  23. 4 out of 5

    Ravi Gupta

    A wonderful commentary on India's political economic history through post Independent India. White Revolution, Green revolution - how it was always a necessity which forced india to nudge ahead & be self reliant. Impact of Bank Nationalisation on the lives of ordinary Indians, IT revolution and it's success story, baby steps for RTI taken by NDA etc etc.. Well researched book & Shankar Aiyar doesn't misses any detail! A wonderful commentary on India's political economic history through post Independent India. White Revolution, Green revolution - how it was always a necessity which forced india to nudge ahead & be self reliant. Impact of Bank Nationalisation on the lives of ordinary Indians, IT revolution and it's success story, baby steps for RTI taken by NDA etc etc.. Well researched book & Shankar Aiyar doesn't misses any detail!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Raghubansh Mani

    Some exaggeration of ideas, events and people. Not on the same level as India Unbound. There is not much story and whatever there is it's written in a largely journalistic style rather than some literary style. I would give it 3.5 ratings. Some exaggeration of ideas, events and people. Not on the same level as India Unbound. There is not much story and whatever there is it's written in a largely journalistic style rather than some literary style. I would give it 3.5 ratings.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Chetan

    Every person who has lived through pre and post liberalization periods, even if mildly interested in history/politics, should read this book. The specific events covered in this book offer good rough overview on Indian politics over time.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Arunkumar

    Very interesting read... Succeeds in giving overview of important events and concern of India after independence. Probably current economic and political can be better understood after reading this book.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Swet

    india's decision makers Leaders and bureaucrats must read this book to overcome their lethargy. india's decision makers Leaders and bureaucrats must read this book to overcome their lethargy.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Virat Sharma

    Read India After Gandhi before this and then savour it .

  29. 4 out of 5

    Mahesh Kumar

    An Extremely Insightful Book for Anybody , who wants to know , how the major changes in the country happened.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Moin Khan

    One of the simple and no-nonsense book written about India . Since I am 80 born and saw how India shaped after the License Raj I can relate myself to the events in the book.

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