Decolonisation and the Politics of Transition in South Asia
Sekhar Bandyopadhyay
140 x 216 mm
Year of Publishing
Territorial Rights
Orient BlackSwan

This volume interrogates the concept of decolonisation, which is often taken to mean a transfer of power from a colonial to an indigenous elite. However, decolonisation involved a much more complex historical experience for the people of the postcolonial nations. It did not necessarily mean a clinical break with the past, but was rather an incomplete, complicated process, as different groups began to seek different meanings of freedom and imagined multiple pathways for their future development. Old nationalisms were questioned and new identities were born, as fresh boundaries were drawn, both geographically and socially.

This book captures some of these complexities of the decolonisation process in South Asia—across India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh—by focusing on these uncertainties and debates of the transition period from colonial to the postcolonial. The essays engage with a range of issues related to decolonisation, including electoral systems, forms of political systems, democracy and authoritarianism, economic planning, armed insurrection, ideological consensus and conflict, minority rights and exclusivist politics. 

Sekhar Bandyopadhyay is Professor of Asian History at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. He is also currently Director, New Zealand India Research Institute.

Publishers’ Acknowledgements
List of Abbreviations

Sekhar Bandyopadhyay

Part I: Independence and Partition

  1. Azadi, Batwara or Vibhajan: What Happened on 14–15 August 1947 in the Indian Subcontinent?

Gyanesh Kudaisya

  1. Partition and Independence in Delhi: 1947–48

Gyanendra Pandey

  1. Picking up the Pieces: Pakistan, 1947–49

Ian Talbot

Part II: Democracy, Development and Politics

  1. ‘The Road Not Taken’: Sir Benegal Narsing Rau and the Indian Constitution

Arvind Elangovan

  1. Democracy’s Biggest Gamble: India’s First Free Elections in 1952

Ramachandra Guha

  1. ‘In the Name of Politics’: Sovereignty, Democracy and the Multitude in India

Dipesh Chakrabarty

  1. India: The Road to the First Five-Year Plan

Benjamin Zachariah

  1. State and the Making of Communist Politics in India, 1947–57

Javeed Alam

Part III: Community, Citizenship and Conflict

  1. The Crisis of Hindu Nationalism in Post-Partition India, 1947–52

Sekhar Bandyopadhyay

  1. B. R. Ambedkar and Indian Democracy

Anupama Rao

  1. The Assassination of Gandhi and the Early Signs of Crisis in Muslim Nationalism in East Pakistan

A. H. Ahmed Kamal

  1. Religion and Language in the Formation of Nationhood in Pakistan and Bangladesh

Tanveer Fazal

  1. ‘Muslim Politics’ in Postcolonial India: Sources, Ideas, Issues and Norms

Hilal Ahmed

  1.  ‘The Jewel of the East Yet has its Flaws’: The Deceptive Tranquillity surrounding Sri Lankan Independence

Harshan Kumarasingham

Notes on the Contributors


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