From the Jacket:
What India means may elicit different answers from people today. The answers that might have been given a thousand, tow thousand or three thousand years ago would have been possibly quite different. This volume explores how notions of India have grown: even as a geographical expression the notion (under whatever name) took time to form. Political factors and cultural diffusion both helped in the formation. Nor is the role of outsiders in looking at India as country with some identifiable features of custom, belief, and language, to be ignored. The different contributions in this volume bring out how the idea of India has changed as Indian civilization has developed and received various cultural streams. The contributors also essay the issue of India's transformation into a nation under the stresses generated by the colonial conquest, resistance and the influx of modern ideas. The volume closes with discussions how the future of the nation was conceived in the past and what message this has for the people of India today.
About the Author:
The editor of this volume, Irfan Habib, was formerly Professor of History at Aligarh Muslim University, and is author of Agrarian System of Mughal Empire, An Atlas of the Mughal Empire and Essays in Indian History: Towards a Marxist Perception. He is currently editing A People's History of India four parts of which have been published.
The idea of India is a phrase of relatively recent use - much credit for
this being due to Sunil Khilnani - but the substance of it has an old
history. This volume is, first, about how the notion originated and evolved
in the minds of both its own inhabitants and outsiders, and about what it
conveyed to them in terms of geography and civilizational traits. The
substance of the notions oflndia altered too as Indian culture itself evolved
and its own contours changed. The volume is, therefore, concerned with
how from being a country, whether as an essentially geographical
expression or as a cultural entity, India became, or came to be regarded
as, a nation. Finally, it touches on the contesting visions of the India ofthe
future, developed within and outside the National Movement.
The Aligarh Historians Society asked a number of distinguished
scholars to contribute papers on the different aspects of the theme. These
papers were presented and discussed at a panel organised by the Society
at the Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, 28-30 December 2002.
Professor Irfan Habib, who has edited the volume, contributes an
introduction which, in its earlier version, had been presented as a key-
note address at the panel.
The panel and the publication of the volume have been supported by
grants from the Indian Council of Social Science Research, New Delhi,
and the Sir Dorabji Tata Trust, Mumbai.
I should like to thank all contributors to the volume for their willing
cooperation and for sending us their revised versions.
I am most grateful to myoId friend, Mr P.N. Sahay, for compiling the
index, which we hope readers will find convenient.
Mr Muneeruddin Khan has processed the final press-copy, while Mr
Arshad Ali has kept our records and accounts. Mr Idris Beg has carried
out other onerous duties.
Mr Devendra Jain of Messrs Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers has
placed us greatly in his debt by agreeing to publish the volume.
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