Skip to content
December 22, 2016 / subramanyam

Half Lion — My Take

It’s PV garu again, after  Sanjay Baru’s   “1991: How P. V. Narasimha Rao Made History”  I moved on to read  “Half Lion”  by Vinay Sitapati.  While Sanjay Baru’s book is only about 1991 and PV’s role in the reforms, “Half Lion” is a definitive biography of the Prime Minister who lead India during one of its most troubled times.  Here is my take on the book.

This book starts with PV’s death; Shri P.V. Narasimha Rao died in the December of 2004,51dkevcnzbl-_sx329_bo1204203200_ his family was shocked when they were asked to move his body to Hyderabad.  The family was shocked because New Delhi was P.V’s karmabhoomi for good 30 years. The man spent 30 years in New Delhi working for the nation and now his own party was denying him a funeral in the national capital.  The family was in for a bigger shock when the gates of the Congress Headquarters were closed and his body was not allowed inside.  The way the last rites were performed in Hyderabad and the way even a memorial was denied, speak volumes about the man, his way of life and party that he served for six decades.

The author then takes us to the childhood of Shri P.V.Narasimha Rao. We get to see the early years, the struggles as a child, the troubles he encountered when he sang Vande Mataram, his fight against the Nizam, his entry into the Congress Party and the way he entered the electoral politics.  We also get to know about his penchant to solve problems.  As we read more, we realize that while P.V. loved solving problems his relationship with his own family was pretty problematic.  We get to know that this man had his share of weaknesses, however, he never had enemies and was hailed as Ajathashatru in Andhra Pradesh state Congress.

Then the author takes us through the ascents and descents of the great man.  The way he got into the state cabinet, his days as an ambitious and rookie Chief Minister, fall from the position, political isolation, the re-entry into Delhi Durbar, making it to the top 4 jobs of the country, handling foreign office, defense, the  home ministry, virtual number 2 in the party, again fall from favor,  political isolation, depression, decision to become a hermit and then getting the top job of the nation, fall again…..  The author takes us through all this seamlessly.   I loved the way the book is structured.

What did I like in the book?

1.    The understanding of P.V’s personality.  We get deep insights into the life Shri P.V. Narasimha Rao.  We get to know the sort of person he is, the traits he had, the incidents


The Author — Vinay Sitapati

that shaped him, his sincerity towards the job etc .
2.    Generally, biographers focus on the positive aspects of the person; Vinay Sitapati is candid about the pitfalls/weaknesses of PV.  This is what I liked the most in the book.
3.    The inputs and insights we get from P.V’s papers are invaluable; one can buy the book just for that.
4.    The insights the author provides.  The author draws from Machiavelli and Chanakya; he tries to draw parallels between the theories of these men and the work done by Shri P.V.
5.    The chapters on 1991- Turnaround of the economy, PV’s-foreign policy, Babri Masjid and the Nuclear Bomb are all awesome.
6.    We also get to see the way family loyalty creates problems in the Congress party; we get to see the way PV was troubled by the sections of Congress Party that indulged in sycophancy and loyalty to the first family of the Congress Party.
7.    We get to see the way P.V. plays Fox and Lion based on the situation.  The author also illustrates cases where PV played lion when he had to play Fox and vice versa.
8.    We get to know about PV’s love for books, the penchant he had to learn new things and the way he used technology in his day to day life.  The way it came out in the book was awesome.

What did I not like?
1.    Not Much actually, I loved most of the aspects of the book.  In places, I felt the chapters were a little long and began to see drag, a trivial issue, though.

To Conclude
A fantastic book that gives profound insights into the politics of the country and the life of one of the greatest Prime Ministers of India.  Do read the book, it is a must read for every Indian.

Happy Reading.

Image Source :,204,203,200_.jpg

You Can buy the Book here.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: