Book review: T.C.A. Raghavan, The People Next Door: The Curious History of India’s Relations with Pakistan

Published date01 June 2018
Date01 June 2018
Subject MatterBook Reviews
Book Reviews 319
Nehru, J. (1942). Glimpses of world history. New York, NY: John Day Company.
Oommen, T. K. (2007). Nation building and diversity. Compiled by Rupak Chattopadhyayay
for the Forum of Federations, Ottawa, and Inter-State Council Secretariat, New Delhi,
Conference Reader, Fourth International Conference on Federalism, Unity in Diversity:
Learning from Each Other, 5–7 November 2007, New Delhi.
Rudolph, L., & Rudolph, S. (1987). In pursuit of Lakshmi: The political economy of the
Indian state. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
Mahendra Prasad Singh
Centre for Multi-level Federalism
Institute of Social Sciences
New Delhi, India
T.C.A. Raghavan, The People Next Door: The Curious History of India’s
Relations with Pakistan. Noida: HarperCollins, 2017, 360 pp., `503.
The United Nations General Assembly in September 2017 reverberated with the
fraught strains of Indo-Pakistan relations. Sushma Swaraj, the External Affairs
Minister, blasted Pakistan as the world’s pre-eminent export factory for terror. She
derided its Prime Minister, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, as a champion of hypocrisy,
preaching about humanity from this podium. ‘You have created Lashkar-e-Taiba,
Jaish-e-Mohammed, Haqqani Network and Hizbul Mujahideen,’ she said, com-
menting, ‘if Pakistan had spent on its development what it has spent on developing
terror, both Pakistan and the world would be safer and better off today.’
On the issue of bilateral dialogue, Swaraj reminded the Pakistan leader that it
was Prime Minister Narendra Modi who, from the moment he took his oath of
office, offered the hand of peace and friendship and that it was for Pakistan to
answer why the offer was spurned. She slammed the Pakistan prime minister for
harking back to the old UN resolutions over Kashmir, while conveniently forget-
ting that under the Shimla Agreement and the Lahore Declaration, both coun-
tries had resolved to settle all outstanding issues bilaterally. ‘The reality is that
Pakistan’s politicians remember everything, manipulate memory into a conveni-
ence. They are masters at forgetting facts that destroy their version,’ she acidly
Earlier in the same session, fielding a young diplomat to exercise its ‘right to
reply’ in response to Pakistani Prime Minister’s diatribes against India, Pakistan
had been sharply pilloried as ‘Terroristan’. Eenam Gambhir, First Secretary of the
Permanent Mission of India at the UN had sneeringly elaborated, ‘Terroristan is
in fact a territory whose contribution to the globalisation of terror is unparalleled.
In its short history, Pakistan has become a geography synonymous with terror.
The quest for a land of the pure has actually produced the land of pure terror.’
This deeply scathing summation provides a perfect backdrop in which to locate
and assess T.C.A. Raghavan’s work. He is a retired diplomat, having served as
India’s Deputy High Commissioner (2003–2007) as well as High Commissioner

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