Wondering what the best books on Indian politics are? Then, check out this list. Seven decades have come to pass after India became independent, somewhere between then and now, a lot has changed politically.

So where does she stand today? Are Indians living the life envisioned by her founding fathers? How has the government touched the lives of commoners? Perhaps, you have questions about eminent politicians as well as India’s successes and failures.

Of course, there are books written by scholars and historians who know the Indian political philosophy like the back of their hands. But which best books on Indian politics should you pick to understand the wider political conjecture?

Certainly, not easy to pick one from hundreds of divergent intellectual trajectories. So, let this guide take you to books focussing on the argumentative analysis of Indian politics.

10 Best Books on Indian Politics to Buy Online

Let me share with you my source of wisdom on Indian politics. These books are among the best that there is for one. They are authored with great attention to philosophical concepts, and bureaucratic reforms.

So without ado let’s begin the review of best books on Indian politics:

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Key Features

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The Idea of Justice

  • Author: Amartya Sen

  • Item weight: 340g

  • Type: Paperback

  • No. of Pages: 496

  • Kindle Available: Yes

  • ISBN: 978-0141037851

  • Publisher: Penguin UK; 1st Edition edition (1 July 2010)

India After Gandhi: The History of the World's Largest Democracy

  • Author: Ramachandra Guha

  • Item weight: 990g

  • Type: Paperback

  • No. of Pages: 998

  • Kindle Available: Yes

  • ISBN: 978-9382616979

  • Publisher: Picador India (19 July 2017)

Democracy on the Road: A 25 Year Journey through India Hardcover

  • Author: Ruhir Sharma

  • Item weight: 449g

  • Type: Paperback

  • No. of Pages: 352

  • Kindle Available: Yes

  • ISBN: 978-0670092208

  • Publisher: Penguin Allen Lane (28 January 2019)

Inglorious Empire: What the British did to India

  • Author: Shashi Tharoor

  • Item weight: 431g

  • Type: Paperback

  • No. of Pages: 294

  • Kindle Available: No

  • ISBN: 978-1947534308

  • Publisher: Scribe Pubns Pty Ltd; Reprint edition (8 May 2018)

India Since Independence

  • Author: Bipan Chandra

  • Item weight:  368g

  • Type: Paperback

  • No. of Pages: 788

  • Kindle Available: Yes

  • ISBN: 978-0143104094

  • Publisher: Penguin Random House India; Revised edition (1 January 2008)

Pax Indica: India and the World of the Twenty-first Century

  • Author: Shashi Tharoor

  • Item weight: 340g

  • Type: Paperback

  • No. of Pages: 460

  • Kindle Available: Yes

  • ASIN: B06XYQ967X

  • Publisher: Penguin (15 June 2013)

24 Akbar Road: A Short History of the People behind the fall and the Rise of the Congress

  • Author: Rasheed Kidwai

  • Item weight: 310g

  • Type: Paperback

  • No. of Pages: 344

  • Kindle Available: Yes

  • ISBN: 978-9350097502

  • Publisher: Hachette India Local (15 September 2013)

Indira Gandhi - Tryst with Power

  • Author: Nayantara Sahgal

  • Item weight: 310g

  • Type: Paperback

  • No. of Pages: 424

  • Kindle Available: Yes

  • ISBN: 978-0143067351

  • Publisher: Penguin India (24 September 2012)

The Red Sari: A Dramatized Biography of Sonia Gandhi
  • Author: Javier Moro

  • Item weight: 450g

  • Type: Paperback

  • No. of Pages: 429

  • Kindle Available: No

  • IBN: 978-9351941033

  • Publisher: BPB; 5th edition

How India Became Democratic: Citizenship and the Making of the Universal Franchise
  • Author: Ornit Shani

  • Item weight: 440g

  • Type: Paperback

  • No. of Pages: 496

  • Kindle Available: Yes

  • ISBN: 978-1107673540

  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (7 December 2017)

1. The Idea of Justice

best indian politics book

Amartya Sen is considered a man of great political sagacity. His critical views on justice, social adjustments of gender imbalance, chronic malnourishment, ill health, and liberal political philosophy are all conveyed through “The Idea of Justice”.

In his book, Sen talks about inequitable society and describes what must be done to make it just. This book augurs well with bottom line orientation (political philosophy) which he accuses of being irrelevant in real scenarios.

Sen voices against social evils that still prevails with powerful arguments and comparative epilogues to spur readers to stand up for moral values. The Idea of Justice is an eye-opener pointing out the flaws in society and Indian philosophy. It’s a must-read for political theorists and enthusiasts.

This book is an epitome of all the values that’s contained in India’s Constitution. It’s a beacon of perception that every Indian must see, achieve, stand-up, and grow into.
Specification:
  • Author: Amartya Sen
  • Item weight: 340g
  • Type: Paperback
  • No. of Pages: 496
  • Kindle Available: Yes
  • ISBN: 978-0141037851
  • Publisher: Penguin UK; 1st Edition edition (1 July 2010)
Reasons to Buy:
  • Explains social injustice
  • Detailed account on Indian politics
  • Decodes the societal flaws
  • Available in the paperback version
  • Suitable for lay-persons & political experts

Key Features:

  • 496 pages
  • Well-admired author
  • 10-day replacement
  • Simple language
  • Quality paper & print

My Verdict: Sen is known for his intellectual ability to bridge gaps in political wisdom. In his book, the Idea of justice, he highlights the suffering of regular Indian folks due to social evils that still exist in India’s social fabric. So, undeniably, this is one of the best books on Indian politics.

2. India After Gandhi: The History of the World’s Largest Democracy

best book on indian politics

Ramachandra Guha’s India After Gandhi is a chronicle of India’s virtues and shortcomings. It’s one of the best books on Indian politics because it broadly covers events from the past decade like the rise of Modi, war on corruption, demonetization, violence against minorities and women, the unrest in Kashmir, and many more issues raging across India.

Guha’s authoritative account and lucid narrative are quite riveting especially because it also speaks about the extraordinary feats of people who held the moral virtues of civil societies.

In 2017, India After Gandhi was released as a 10th-anniversary edition with expanded narratives and better coverage of the latest political development.

This book won the Book of the Year award in 2017 and was featured in The Economist, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and San Francisco Chronicle. It won the Sahitya Akademi Award too.
Specification:
  • Author: Ramachandra Guha
  • Item weight: 990g
  • Type: Paperback
  • No. of Pages: 998
  • Kindle Available: Yes
  • ISBN: 978-9382616979
  • Publisher: Picador India (19 July 2017)
Reasons to Buy:
  • Outlines complete Indian history
  • Chronicles India’s success and failure
  • Sheds light on latest political developments
  • Piques reader’s interest with lucid explanations
  • Closely analyzes the lives of eminent politicians

Key Features:

  • 988 pages
  • Won many awards
  • Featured in many websites
  • Translated in 20+ languages
  • Best selling book

My Verdict: Ramachandra Guha’s storytelling approach positively impacts readers because it covers a range of matters in the post-independence era. His book focuses on what democracy means to Indians. Guha’s unbiased views transform semi-literates into political experts.

3. Democracy on the Road: A 25 Year Journey through India Hardcover

best book to read on indian politics

Democracy on the road by Ruchir Sharma explains the mechanism of Indian democracy excepted from his populist narrative on election campaigns.

His chronicling style may be liked by some and not by others, but the book has a detailed portrayal of people who are everyday folk to business executives from states of Rajasthan to Tamil Nadu.

His interview with head honchos and arch-rivals of two popular Indian political syndicates are also narrated in the book giving readers a deep view into the minds and lives of leaders they only know through mass media.

This book offers a detailed view of the inner lives & minds of the political giants in India. The author explains how the forces have conspired for electing and toppling Indian leaders from the times of Indira Gandhi.
Specification:
  • Author: Ruhir Sharma
  • Item weight: 449g
  • Type: Paperback
  • No. of Pages: 352
  • Kindle Available: Yes
  • ISBN: 978-0670092208
  • Publisher: Penguin Allen Lane (28 January 2019)
Reasons to Buy:
  • Shows how Indian democracy is prevailing
  • Discloses conspiracies to topple leaders
  • Explains the mechanism of Indian democracy
  • Chronicled in a previously unpublished series
  • Takes readers closer to the minds of political leaders

Key Features:

  • 352 pages
  • Good summary
  • Easy to understand
  • Quality paper & print
  • Well-explained

My Verdict: Sharma delved into vexing topics like caste and community, money and corruption, the complex forces of family, economics, and development. He has also opinionated on the stunning conspiracies that toppled Indian premiers.

Democracy on the road culminates with a straightforward exposition of how Indian democracy is blooming while elsewhere it’s retreating. Indeed, one of the best books on Indian politics.

4. Inglorious Empire: What the British did to India

best political history of india

Inglorious Empire by Shashi Tharoor is written in a language of political discourse that exposes Britain’s deceit that crippled the largest economy of the eighteenth century. Tharoor censures colonial Britain’s traversing of politics making it appear like she was working for the benefit of the governed.

Instead, her imperialism dealt a devastating blow to India’s economy foundering it six-fold. He vehemently critiques Britain’s colonial past for massacre of unarmed protestors, entrenching institutionalized racism, and causing history’s worst famine that displaced millions.

British imperialism truly justified itself as an enlightened despotism for the advantage of the governed. However, the author exposes the devastating effects and the reality of Britain.
Specification:
  • Author: Shashi Tharoor
  • Item weight: 431g
  • Type: Paperback
  • No. of Pages: 294
  • Kindle Available: No
  • ISBN: 978-1947534308
  • Publisher: Scribe Pubns Pty Ltd; Reprint edition (8 May 2018)
Reasons to Buy:
  • Dismantles the raj nostalgia
  • Contains important statistics
  • Revisits the colonial-era struggle
  • Touches on the cultural ties of Britain and India
  • Scholarly account of brilliant Indian political philosopher

Key Features:

  • 294 pages
  • Font size & style is clear
  • Well-known author
  • Deeply researched
  • Reasonably priced

My Verdict: Inglorious Empire unmasks the true colors of colonial Britain where she presented the rule of law and railways not to benefit Indians, but to fuel her industrial aspirations.

It also encompasses Britain’s industrial revolution which Tharoor claims was built upon the ruins of what they supplanted and permanently scarred India’s magnificence. It’s one of the best books on Indian politics to read.

5. India Since Independence

best book to understand indian politics

How was India forged as the world’s largest economy? What are her political ambitions? Where does she stand after seventy years of independence from her colonial past? India Since Independence is an inspiring account of Bipan Chandra arranged in chapters that keep readers engrossed from cover to cover.

It is a detailed narrative on India’s incredible legacy, her glorious past, and the economic slump caused by Britain’s imperialism.

The book has been hailed for its unique perspective on Indian politics. It also has a section dedicated to the Indian constitution, Nehruvian agenda, and foreign policy.

This book highlights how Indian Constitution was framed and further, how the evolution of the Nehruvian political as well as the economic agenda emerged.
Specification:
  • Author: Bipan Chandra
  • Item weight: 368g
  • Type: Paperback
  • No. of Pages: 788
  • Kindle Available: Yes
  • ISBN: 978-0143104094
  • Publisher: Penguin Random House India; Revised edition (1 January 2008)
Reasons to Buy:
  • Recommended by critics
  • Encompasses views of political thinkers
  • Authored by a Padma Bhushan awardee
  • Explains the secular philosophy of Congress
  • Discloses ideas based on the modern political system

Key Features:

  • 788 pages
  • Well explained ideologies
  • Good for law students
  • Great authoritative work
  • Well-known author

My Verdict: Bipan Chandra has touched upon critical topics like unrest in Punjab, the center’s relation with states, untouchability, and anti-caste politics like never before.

He has been praised for his detailed coverage of Indian politics with strong arguments. So, undoubtedly, this is one of the best books on Indian politics.

6. Pax Indica: India and the World of the Twenty-first Century

best books on indian politics

Pax Indica is easily one of the best books on Indian politics authored by Shashi Tharoor, a true political philosopher. It’s another intellectual material that delineates the ideals of Indian diplomacy.

Tharoor brings the reader’s attention to India’s transformation as a soft power which he aptly calls the heralds of the new age. His bold assertion of where India must go in the years ahead is a novel outlook.

Pax Indica highlights why it’s important to move from non-alignment to multi-alignment strategy. It is certainly a departure from the ordinary because Indian politics have been accurately chronicled, praised, and criticised.

The author creatively demonstrates how the Indian diplomacy has evolved over the years and highlights where it needs to target in the modern times. The book is passionately engaged and elegantly written.
Specification:
  • Author: Shashi Tharoor
  • Item weight: 340g
  • Type: Paperback
  • No. of Pages: 460
  • Kindle Available: Yes
  • ASIN: B06XYQ967X
  • Publisher: Penguin (15 June 2013)
Reasons to Buy:
  • Contains crisp language
  • Helps UPSC aspirants
  • Contains relevant topics
  • Covers Indian international relations
  • Accounts on soft-diplomacy with India’s neighbours

Key Features:

  • 885 KB (Kindle edition)
  • Well written
  • Easily understandable
  • Good researched
  • Popular author

My Verdict: It’s considered the best book on Indian politics because Sashi Tharoor explains the underpinnings and conduct of foreign affairs.

It’s a recommended read for students and academicians without being bored by random facts. Readers get to glean quality insights without going through repetitive arguments.

7. 24 Akbar Road: A Short History of the People behind the fall and the Rise of the Congress

best books on indian politics

24 Akbar Road by Rasheed Kidwai outlines everything from Rahul Gandhi’s ascendance to Congress’s hot seat to chronicling compelling accounts of eminent personalities like Sanjay, Indira, and Rajiv Gandhi to the current generation of Gandhi family.

Being a pro journalist and a long-time Congress watcher, the author provides a detailed account of the grand party’s weakening influence at the center. In his book, Kidwai walks fair-minded readers through the party’s way of thinking and its political philosophy. He also discussed its successes and failures.

This book clearly explains how the congress ruled and what further needs to be done. It has a selective compilation of various facts with a high level of integrity.
Specification:
  • Author: Rasheed Kidwai
  • Item weight: 310g
  • Type: Paperback
  • No. of Pages: 344
  • Kindle Available: Yes
  • ISBN: 978-9350097502
  • Publisher: Hachette India Local (15 September 2013)
Reasons to Buy:
  • Relevant to current times
  • Selective comparison of facts
  • Highlights the rise and fall of congress
  • Includes perspective of expert political commentator
  • Discloses what Congress should do to regain footing

Key Features:

  • 344 pages
  • Interesting & worth reading
  • Good research
  • Reasonably priced
  • Paper quality is good

My Verdict: Being an avid political observer, Rasheed has chronicled pivotal decisions and policies adopted by the present-day Congress.

In the latest edition, he discloses the analogy behind Rahul Gandhi’s election as Congress’s new face and a come-back strategy to regain its lost footing and glory.

8. Indira Gandhi – Tryst with Power

best books on indian politics

Indira Gandhi by Nayantara Sahgal is an unbiased biography inspired by the life of Indira Gandhi – the original powerhouse of the grand party. The book answers how she ascended to power and whether India prospered under her leadership.

If you are among those yearning to know the background of Emergency, this book answers all questions about the powerful woman and her bold stance as a war room leader and a powerful politician.

Indira’s authoritarian approach over a democratic one to lead the young nation is one of the most broadly debated subjects. Sahgal has covered Indira’s dogmatic personal and political life from the perspective of a cousin.

The author’s connection with Indira and her family allows readers to catch a glimpse of India under her rule.
Specification:
  • Author: Nayantara Sahgal
  • Item weight: 310g
  • Type: Paperback
  • No. of Pages: 424
  • Kindle Available: Yes
  • ISBN: 978-0143067351
  • Publisher: Penguin India (24 September 2012)
Reasons to Buy:
  • Authored by Sahitya Academy-winning political analyst
  • Clean language and detailed narrative
  • Thought-provoking and intelligent exposition
  • Provides insight into the personal life of Indira Gandhi
  • Includes portrayal of facts from close family members

Key Features:

  • 424 pages
  • Award-winning book
  • Decent amazon ratings
  • Easily understandable
  • Author is close to Nehru family

My Verdict: Nayantara Sahgal’s Indira Gandhi – Tryst with power keeps readers buried in exhaustive material describing the life of India’s powerful matriarch. The book touches upon things that influenced her decisions and her authoritarian style of governance.

9. The Red Sari: A Dramatized Biography of Sonia Gandhi

indian politics book online

The Red Sari is based on India’s most powerful matriarch’s daughter-in-law. The author interacted with the Nehru-Gandhi family’s closest circles to build a credible narrative on Sonia Maino’s journey from a suburban carefree Italian girl to becoming the face of India’s oldest political family.

Javier Moro speaks volumes on courtship days of a 19-year of Sonia Maino and Rajiv Gandhi during their time at Cambridge.

The book ideally enraptures the readers due to the detailed account of Sonia Gandhi’s childhood, relationship, and most importantly the transformation from a shy woman to a politician who declined the throne of prime minister.
Specification:
  • Author: Javier Moro
  • Item weight: 450g
  • Type: Paperback
  • No. of Pages: 429
  • Kindle Available: No
  • ISBN: 978-9351941033
  • Publisher: Lotus; 1st edition (1 January 2015)
Reasons to Buy:
  • Free from controversies
  • Detailed biography of Sonia Gandhi
  • Gripping context on Sonia-Rajiv’s courtship
  • Captures the transformation of Sonia’s personality
  • Shed light on internal family politics of Gandhi family

Key Features:

  • 429 pages
  • A good read
  • Well summarised
  • A spanish author
  • Delves into the family politics

My Verdict: Javier Moro’s “The red Saree” is an eye-opening account of the author’s knowledge of the Scion of Gandhi family.

His insightful writing on Sonia Gandhi’s personal and professional life is quite riveting to readers. The book also speaks of Indira Gandhi’s perspective on Operation Blue Star and the Bangladesh War.

10. How India Became Democratic: Citizenship and the Making of the Universal Franchise

top 10 books on indian politics

Ornit Shani’s How India Became Democratic is an intellectually stimulating discourse that analyzes the greatest democratic exercises in Indian history. He provides a detailed chronology of pre-election activities based on universal suffrage in the world’s populous democracy.

Sahni intercepts the institutionalization of Indian democracy and how it touched the imagination of everyday folks. It gives an exposition on the transformation of Indian voters while the India-Pak partition was the main theme and the constitution was still in its infancy.

Armed with powerful archival materials, Ornit Shani highlights the struggle people endured to gain their voting privileges.

The general abstract focuses on the time when Indian citizens became voters before achieving citizenship.
Specification:
  • Author:  Ornit Shani
  • Item weight: 440g
  • Type: Paperback
  • No. of Pages: 496
  • Kindle Available: Yes
  • ISBN: 978-1107673540
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (7 December 2017)
Reasons to Buy:
  • Well-researched facts
  • Thoughtfully researched
  • Drives values about post-independent India
  • Speaks about India’s rare democratic fabric
  • Shows how democracy championed with the political will of leaders

Key Features:

  • 296 pages
  • Remarkable book
  • High quality print
  • Thoroughly researched
  • Well-presented collection

My Verdict: How India became Democratic is a must-read for people studying Indian democracy. Ornit Shani offers his detailed account of democratization. It helps the students who aspire to have an up-close look at Indian democracy.

Conclusion

Indian politics has been thoroughly investigated by brilliant minds from the eyes of a philosopher, politician, and a classic historian. With numerous collections and variance, it is no doubt a daunting task to find the best books on Indian politics that are unbiased and absolute.

This review concludes with recommendations so you won’t have to look too far to analyze the past and present of Indian politics.

About the Author

Mohit Parihar

He is ambitious lawyer, with over 4 years of work experience as ‘Lawyer’ in the legal industry. He is proficient in Legal documentation and Research. He’s specialised in Cyber laws, Internet Securities, and Immigration Laws & Constitutional Laws. He outshines in both independent and team-oriented situations. His inquisitive nature and keep sense of logic allows him to successfully apply legal principles to a variety of cases. Also he is associated with Alexis group, Lucknow and co-founder of LexZilla.Inc, an online platform for legal updates, news, events, seminars. He is Bibliophile, fond of reading books. He has collection of novels, dramas, stories, mythologies from classic literature to contemporary fiction or nonfiction books. He is an active volunteer of ‘Purple Pencil Project’, which an online book review platform, aiming to invite publishers, bloggers, readers as portal of discovery. He believes that ‘Books allow us to experience different perceptions, lifestyles, cultures, or opinions – many more that we’d be able to in real life’. He is Photographer, skilled in Portraiture style of photo shoot. His goal is to show the beauty, grace, strength and enthusiasm of people. He aimed to increase awareness of the joys and trials of life thorough art.

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