The Rediscovery of India

The Rediscovery of India

Product ID: 26862

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Author: Meghnad Desai
Publisher: Penguin
Year: 2009
Language: English
Pages: 498
ISBN/UPC (if available): 9780670083008


What makes India a nation? What has held its many disparate societies with their diverse, sometimes conflicting, narratives together for more than sixty years? What has allowed India to sustain its commitment to the democratic process, given its location in a region that is largely undemocratic? In this magisterial analysis of the last five hundred years of Indian history, Meghnad Desai looks at India’s colonial past, its struggle for independence and its many contemporary conundrums, to discover answers to the questions that have confronted India-watchers for decades.

Rejecting much received wisdom, including narratives fashioned by India’s ruling establishment, Meghnad Desai goes back to the beginnings of the East–West encounter at the end of the fifteenth century. He tracks its impact on the cultures and politics of the present day, from the emergence of new classes under colonialism, the influence of Jawaharlal Nehru and Mahatma Gandhi on the idea of Indian nationhood, to the entirely parallel discourses that developed in North and South India. Yet this trajectory, this outcome, was not inevitable. Through a series of ‘Counterfactual Boxes’ Meghnad Desai analyses the accepted defining moments of India’s past and suggests alternative courses that history could so easily have taken.

Meghnad Desai draws on a wealth of sources to illuminate India’s journey to the twenty-first century. Whether it is an examination of British parliamentary debates on the question of India’s independence, or the liberalization of the economy after decades of licence-permit raj, or the state’s complicity in the Gujarat riots, Meghnad Desai’s original, occasionally iconoclastic, approach to seemingly settled arguments makes The Rediscovery of India a path-breaking and comprehensive account of India’s past and present.



Introduction: India at Sixty

The Vasco Da Gama Moment
The English Turn
Revenue, Reform and Renaissance
The Great Divide: From Company to Crown
The Settlement
Westminster Takes Charge
Gandhi, Irwin and Churchill
The Ruptur
Jinnah’s Hour
The Road Tp Pakistana
Political Economy of Empire and Nation

Independent India: The Nehru Years
Heirs and Successors
Search for Stability, 1989-2004
Globalization India
Whose India? Which India?