My first assumption after reading the title of the book Reason and Reform authored by Bibek Debroy and Diwakar Jhurani, was, that it probably discusses about the reforms happened in India since Independence and the reasons behind them. We all know what “Reform” means. Reform by definition means Change that is made to a social system, an organization, etc. in order to improve or correct it. My assumption wasn’t wrong, however, this book is certainly not about, just that.

The book broadly covers Indian reforms under eight sections as listed below –

  1. India and Reforms
  2. Law and Order
  3. Planning and Policy Making
  4. Governance
  5. Welfare State
  6. Economic Policy and Performance
  7. Infrastructure
  8. Transportation
Reason and Refrom

These sections further have chapters (total 40) covering it’s major branches. As stated in the Introduction “The idea is to keep the chapters short so as to cover more subjects under each theme. While these eight themes by no means comprehensively cover the extent of the reforms in India, but they do capture a large part. “ And that is indeed true! This one book is like a storehouse of concise information one would possibly need.

These eight themes (sections) touch upon the reforms and policy changes happened over time and how India has coped along so far. The most unexpected and surprising was the first section – India and Reforms. As I assumed earlier that the reforms discussed in the book would be post-independence, little did I imagine that it will go as far back as ancient India! From explaining the anatomy of reforms from ancient Hindu texts to India’s legacy in policy from the times of Mahabharata! Not only Hindu texts but many western philosophers and thinkers have been aptly quoted at many places.

The Introduction quite precisely states “The first theme titled “India and Reforms” deals with a bit of history of Indian policy heritage and explains how the reform process is so natural to India, given its legacy.” This quote from the second chapter expresses exactly how I felt after reading the first section “..India wasn’t just a country that was born in 1947 but a civilization with an elaborate past and its future policies must reflect that.”

One of the very important points that I wish to stress upon is that this book not only explains what, how, why has happened so far in India but also touches upon the crucial what else needs to be done and how. Each chapter covers the journey of the reforms in that particular field, highlights the successes so far and draws our attention towards the gaps, failures and loopholes in that system. The authors at the end of each chapter, then lay down their suggestions on how the system can be improved, the gaps filled and what requires our urgent attention. The following quote on Police Reforms struck me the most “..it is a bit odd that police reforms are rarely a part of a general reform discourse, though all of us, as citizens, want better police performance.”

The book highlights the duties and responsibilities of the Union, State and Legislative governments as well as our duties towards the nation as a responsible citizen. It takes two to tango. No reform can effectively work without the co-operation and partnership of the citizens. As rightly stated in the Conclusion of the book “If only, we can contribute towards one substantial act of national interest each day, we would be serving India with the same spirit as our brave soldiers.” Doesn’t that sound powerful? It did to me! It kind of invoked the patriotic feeling that we usually get around the Independence Day. How amazing would it be if every citizen of the country had this feeling every single day!

This book is educative, enlightening and an eye-opener. What I really appreciate a lot in this book is, how the authors have made it easy for even a layman to understand the technical part of the constitution or the statistical part of the economy. This book is a must read for every Indian citizen. It won’t only bust a few myths and misconceptions but would also bring you up-to-date to our country’s current requirements and also its future goals. After reading this book I realized how much I didn’t know about a lot of things, even though I do follow news, well, mostly. I felt so much aware after reading it and I guess that’s precisely why, there are “Books”! Need I say more? Go ahead, get it! Its a MUST READ!!

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