The People Next Door: The Curious History of India’s Relations with Pakistan. Raghavan, T C. India: Harper Collins Publishers, 2017, 303.


Raghavan, who retired from the Indian Foreign Service in December 2015, at the end of a two-year period as India’s High Commissioner to Pakistan, has seen and led the Indian diplomacy with the neighbour for even longer. Unlike other books by the Indian authors about Pakistan, Raghavan’s narrative has little animosity as he tries to explain India-Pakistan issues with more nuance. This is not surprising given his stint in Pakistan it also shows how individual and personal relations between people ─ such as himself and the several Pakistani that he mentions in the book ─ enable an author to have a better understanding of a country and its people.

If Raghavan had given us his personal stories, about his life in Pakistan, his perceptions and expectations, as well as what this experience has been all about, it would have been a good addition to books about India-Pakistan relations. After all, it is these personal stories that have a larger impact. As it is, Raghavan simply gives us a narrative of the past and events he came across being the ambassador to Pakistan. Having said that it must also be noted that the style of writing is easy and fluid, his narrative is cogent and without any major gaps. He tells us about India-Pakistan relations in the form of a story and, thus, the book will introduce to new generations in a good and accessible way an old story.

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