Rajiv Gandhi and Rama's Kingdom by Ved Mehta

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This chronicle of a dozen years of recent Indian history covers the unsettled conditions that preceded the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi to the Hindu revival that followed the assassination of her son Rajiv. The text explores the impulses behind the political and economic changes between 1982 and 1994, revealing what life is like in modern India. Beginning with a description of the politics that surrounded Indira Gandhi during the last two years of her life - in particular, the growing hostility between Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims - the author tells of the Sikhs' demand for special status, their uprising against the Hindus in the Punjab, the government's retaliation, the murder of Mrs Gandhi by two of her Sikh bodyguards and the anti-Sikh rioting that followed. The book reconstructs the circumstances surronding Rajiv's election as his mother's successor; the change in atmosphere from optimism to disenchantment as Rajiv's govenment became mired in a money-laundering sscandal; Rajiv's loss of office to V.P. Singh in the 1989 election; and his murder by a secessionist Tamil group from Sri Lanka in 1991. It provides details of Indian history and culture throughout, such as the impact of the accident at the Union Carbide plant in Bhopal, the debate between the judiciary and Muslim clerics over economic support of divorced Muslim women, the peculiarities of the Indian telephone system, and the effect of television and movies on Hindu revivalism.

About Ved Mehta

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Ved Mehta is currently the Randolph Distinguished Professor of English and History at Vassar College.
Published November 30, 1994 by Yale University Press. 208 pages
Genres: History, Travel, Biographies & Memoirs. Non-fiction

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The big story is of a country teetering toward collapse as Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi successively lose control of politics, endanger national unity by mishandling regional and religious conflicts, and die at the hands of assassins.

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