Half Lion: How PV Narasimha Rao Transformed India
By Vinay Sitapati
Review by Krishna Kumar Mishra
This is the lesser-known story of a man who was loathed by Congress party’s first family. The fast narrative tears into the tensions that existed within the party and Rao’s personal vision for his country. A successful attempt to understand how prime minister Narasimha Rao (PVNR) achieved so much despite having so little power is the central puzzle of this book. And when one covers the 317 page book (total 391 pages) the puzzle is almost solved. This book sheds light on his personality and how he maneuvered India out of some of the most tough and hostile times.
This book was much desired because the media had always given an impression of him being a very non decisive leader – who was in fact a scholar, a statesman and a shrewd politician who knew how to survive in spite of all the efforts of the dynasty and also of those whose political and social presence in this country depends mainly by being around that deity.
Undoubtedly PVNR along with AB Vajpayee remains the finest PMs that India has produced. He was undoubtedly the architect of modern India, who laid the foundations in the toughest of circumstances. Having no political base, leading a minority government, and above all constantly under the shadow of a megalomaniac Sonia Gandhi, PVNR’s achievements are huge.
A must read for anyone interested in contemporary politics post the fall of the Soviet Union and tumultuous years of India’s economic reforms. The book combines political philosophy with rigorous research to provide a sympathetic and not hagiographic portrait of one of the most misunderstood and maligned leaders in contemporary Indian history. A must read book to know a man who well and truly transformed India.