5 Books for general awareness about India - Sage IAS 5 Books for general awareness about India - Sage IAS

Following is the list of books a citizen of India should read. However, they are of even more importance when prescribed to a Civil Service aspirant. These books will enhance the general awareness and consciousness of the student about her Country and its immediate past. The student can use the content of the books in his answers in the main examination in all papers, in essay and above all during the interview. These books will help him understand the issues of the past and present and provide him with a foundation of knowledge to work on. There may be other equally important books, but the author of the article is giving his own experience, therefore, list in not exhaustive.

1.   Makers of Modern India (Ramachandra Guha) – The book is about the eminent personalities of India since the beginning of the 19th century, from Raja Rammohan Roy to Hamid Dalwai. It covers 20 such personalities who consciously or unconsciously helped Indian history to take its course. The unique part of the book is that it’s not only the eulogy of these personalities, but also includes their own writings and speeches about the situations and problems of their times, which helps reader understanding the issues in greater depth.

2.   The Argumentative Indian (Amartya Sen) – The book contains 16 essays by the author written over a decade. The essays cover different aspects and issues of the Indian nation and society from political and economic perspectives. The essays are indeed divided by the author himself in 4 parts, however, all touch a different theme and discuss different issues with the same spirit of reason and inquiry.

3.   An Uncertain Glory, India and its contradictions (Jean Dreze and Amartya Sen) – The book is divided into 10 chapters, each discussing different problem like education, health care, corruption, inequality, etc. The author duo tried to highlight how a potential superpower is so structurally helpless and lethargic to solve the very fundamental problems concerning millions of those struggling every day. This book gives a true picture of India and its problems. A must read.

4.   Pax Indica (Shashi Tharoor) – An interesting book describes the evolution and current state of India’s relations with other countries and its position in the World. The book is written for a general reader, but with details of an academician. The best thing about the book is that it is written with a sense of authority by someone who worked for the UNO for over two decades and is among top rung diplomats of the country. The 10 chapters of the book deals all the major players of India’s foreign policy and issues, one by one.

5.   Changing India (Robert W Stern) – The book is an extraordinary work which inquiries and explains the continuity and change in the Indian society. The book has 6 chapters divided into 2 parts, ‘The changing countryside’ and ‘Change from above’. It connects all the dots since British Raj and explains the mutual existence of India’s classes and castes, sometimes collaborative, sometimes hostile.

Above mentioned books will provide an insight into the society we live in but about which we know very little. This exercise should not be done like a syllabus to complete, but as an exercise to enhance our cognizance and perception level about our surroundings. This will help you not only in the Civil service examination, but thereafter as a Civil Servant.

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