The Nehrus and the Gandhis

Published by Picador, 2005

The Nehrus are a dynasty without precedent in the modern world; nowhere else and at no other time in recent history has a single family wielded such enduring and pervasive power over the country—and the electorate—they serve. From Jawaharlal Nehru to his daughter, Indira Gandhi, and from there, via Sanjay and Rajiv to—most recently—Sonia, this remarkable family have consistently established both the parameters and rhetoric of India’s political development.

In the eighties, Tariq Ali made several trips to India, meeting a wide range of political and public figures, including Mrs Gandhi, and leaders of both the Congress and Opposition parties. The Nehrus and the Gandhis, first published in 1985, was the result. Now updated to include the most recent chapters in India’s political history, it remains as relevant as ever, offering an intricate and revealing portrait of power, seen through the continued rise—and eyes—of one family.

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From the archive

  • Vancouver’s Georgia Straight reviews Night of the Golden Butterfly

    July 20, 2010

    Night of the Golden Butterfly reviewed by Charles Demers for Vancouver’s Georgia Straight, July 20, 2010

    It was the late Edward Said who, after reading Tariq Ali’s 1992 historical novel of the fall of Muslim Spain, Shadows of the Pomegranate Tree, prodded his friend to expand the scope of the project into a panoramic series on Islamic civilizations. With the publication of Night of the Golden Butterfly, Ali has satisfyingly and entertainingly concluded his Islam Quintet, a brilliant project unearthing the intellectual, sexual, artistic, and political histories heretofore kept out of mainstream conversation by both conservative Islamists and their former allies, and current enemies, in the West.

    Unlike the historical fiction that constitutes the rest of the quintet, Night of the Golden Butterfly is a (mostly) contemporary tale. It’s a testament to Ali’s skills as  …

  • ‘The same old racket in Iraq’

    December 13, 2003

    ‘The same old racket in Iraq’ by Tariq Ali for The Guardian, December 13, 2003

    To the victors, the spoils: Bush’s colonialism will only deepen resistance

    Iraq remains a country of unbearable suffering, the sort that only soldiers and administrators acting on behalf of states and governments are capable of inflicting on their fellow humans. It is the first country where we can begin to study the impact of a 21st-century colonisation. This takes place in an international context of globalisation and neo-liberal hegemony. If the economy at home is determined by the primacy of consumption, speculation as the main hub of economic activity and no inviolate domains of public provision, only a crazed utopian could imagine that a colonised Iraq would be any different.

    The state facilities that were so carefully targeted with bombs and shells have  …

  • Tariq Ali and the Future of European Citizenship

    September 7, 2012

    Tariq Ali in conversation with Nick Holdstock for Citizenship in Southeast Europe

    N.H.: Maybe we should talk about what’s happening right now. Do you think the recent successes of the left in the European elections are just protest votes against the governments or can we see these as grounds for more general hope?

    T.A.: Well, I think it varies from country to country. In France I think what we are seeing is the traditional anger of the electorate against incumbents. It doesn’t matter who is in power over the last few years, the story has been a bad one and the electorate decides OK, let’s vote them out. This happened in Britain when New Labour were voted out. It has happened in Greece, where PASOK was aware that New Democracy deliberately called an election because they wanted to be  …