A Short History of the New India
A Financial Times 2019 Summer Book Pick
A Times Literary Supplement 2019 Summer Book Pick
After decades of imperfect secularism, presided over by an often corrupt Congress establishment, Nehru’s diverse republic has yielded to Hindu nationalism. India is collapsing under the weight of its own contradictions.
Since 2014, the ruling BJP has unleashed forces that are irreversibly transforming the country. Indian democracy, honed over decades, is now the chief enabler of Hindu extremism. Bigotry has been ennobled as a healthy form of self-assertion, and anti-Muslim vitriol has deluged the mainstream, with religious minorities living in terror of a vengeful majority. Congress now mimics Modi; other parties pray for a miracle.
In this blistering critique of India from Indira Gandhi to the present, Komireddi lays bare the cowardly concessions to the Hindu right, convenient distortions of India’s past and demeaning bribes to minorities that led to Modi’s decisive electoral victory. If secularists fail to reclaim the republic from Hindu nationalists, Komireddi argues, India will become Pakistan by another name.
KS (Kapil Satish) Komireddi was born in India, and educated there and in England. His commentary, criticism, and journalism – from South Asia, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East – have appeared, among other publications, in The Economist, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The Guardian, The New Statesman, The Spectator, TIME, Foreign Policy, and The Jewish Chronicle. This is his first book.
‘Dazzling prose . . . arresting, essential, devastating.’ — The Spectator
‘A timely intervention at a dangerous moment. … both the times and the subject demand anger, argument and urgency. Malevolent Republic supplies all three and is all the better for it.’ — The Observer
‘Written with passion and savagery, this is a polemical and highly readable short history of modern India from Indira Gandhi to Narendra Modi.’ — Gideon Rachman, The Financial Times
‘[E]loquent on the subject of religious tolerance, communal harmony and human decency, all of which appear to be in harrowingly short supply among the acolytes who surround Modi.’ — The Times
‘In precise and sharp language Malevolent Republic takes readers on a terrifying and yet illuminating journey through the rapidly transforming political, social and religious landscape of Modi’s India.’ — Times Literary Supplement
‘Kapil Komireddi explores the unhealthy symbiosis that brought [India] to this point. … The charges [he] lays at the prime minister’s door are damning.’ — The Financial Times
‘[F]or anyone trying to understand [India’s] momentous transformation, KS Komireddi’s Malevolent Republic should be a must read … The beauty of Malevolent Republic is that it stimulates questions.’ — The Indian Express
‘Even if you recoil from the full blast of Komireddi’s anger, read Malevolent Republic. It’s a reminder that India is a righteous project mishandled and let down.’ — India Today
‘The book is well-documented and highly readable. All discerning Indians and their well-wishers should read it, reflect on the issues raised in it, and if possible act on them.’ — The Hindu
‘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
‘What makes Komireddi’s narrative interesting, and more importantly fair, is the care he’s taken to look at all leaders from Nehru to Modi in equal light … The book … merits a wider audience. Here, for a change, is a critic of the present order who is fair-handed even if he is a bit harsh in his anger at the political evolution of independent India.’ — Siddharth Singh, Open Magazine
‘Kapil Komireddi ranks high among the wisest, most astute, and most humane observers of modern India. I rely heavily on his insights to form my own understanding of the past, present, and future of the subcontinent.’ — David Frum, Senior Editor, The Atlantic
‘Kapil Komireddi is a writer 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