Mother India: A Political Biography of Indira Gandhi

Pranay Gupte, Author
Pranay Gupte, Author Scribner Book Company $30 (0p) ISBN 978-0-684-19296-3
Paperback - 597 pages - 978-0-14-306826-6
Hardcover - 597 pages - 978-0-670-08409-8
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A bountiful mother figure to her legions of admirers, Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi (1917-1984) is unsparingly portrayed as an arrogant ruler enamored of her celebrity status and a key cause of her country's woes in this acerbic, compulsively readable political biography. According to Gupte, a columnist for International Newsweek who was born and raised in India, Gandhi substituted vague socialist ``mantras'' for concerted economic transformation and looked the other way when her close associates engaged in wholesale corruption. Her ``paranoid attachment to power'' is held responsible for the fissure in 1969 of her Congress Party, which led to the disintegration of secular, centralist politics in India. Blending lively firsthand reportage with astute political analysis, Gupte draws up a useful scorecard of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty's missed opportunities for increasing productivity, distributing income and trimming a gargantuan bureaucracy. The book is also critical of Rajiv Gandhi's vacillating reign hobbled by corruption and maladministration. Photos. (Feb.)
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