At the time when India was on the cusp of Independence, it could be said with a fair degree of confidence that the expecta-tions of its people did not exceed their collective hope. The role of its political leader-ship then was to organize this economy of hope in the state’s favour. Thus conceived, the dream-like nationalist vision has since been narrativized so often that it is easy to tell its core elements: the rainbow like diversity of the nation, its multicultural and plural heritage, the syncretism in its arts and culture, and above all a force of ‘destiny’ shaping its progress. Today, each of these elements is under scrutiny. And not just in the history departments but in the public arena. From literary fiction to evening talk shows on television, the economy of hope is in steep decline. Instead an unrelenting cycle of expectations is emerging. Idealism is out, at least for the moment. Post Haste is then an unusually timed book, offering a general overview of 5000 years of India’s history, at a time when one can make a killing elaborating on a single moment of the contemporary era. But there is a twist in the tale, at least in its telling. B.G.

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