Back of the Book:
When the first edition of this book appeared, India's independence from British rule was still a relatively recent event. This fifth edition of Indian Nationalism: A History coincides with the return of the Congress Party to political power as the leading party in a new government in India. This book gives a clear and comprehensive account of the complex factors which led to the rise and eventual success of Indian nationalism in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries till recent times.
It presents the story of what was involved in the freedom struggle the nationalist demands brought together by clearly formulated underlying nations of cultural and national identity which convinced the British politicians that their withdrawal was not only a necessity but an imperative that could not be, nor should be, long denied.
The analysis begins with the groups and individuals responsible for inaugurating Western-style political organisations, examining their social background and the part played by the Indian National Congress in the struggle for independence. The narration traces the developments from Nehru and Indira Gandhi through to Rajiv Gandhi as prime ministers of India, the coming of VP Singh, the demolition of Babri Masjid in Ayodhya in 1992, and its aftermath, the coming of the National Democratic Alliance to power with BJP at the head in 1999 up to its defeat in the 2004 elections, and the comeback of the Congress.
Dr Jim Masselos is an Honorary Reader in History at the University of Sydney. He obtained his BA degree from Sydney University and his PhD from the University of Bombay. He has written Towards Nationalism, co-authored Beato's Delhi and Dancing to the Flute, edited Struggling and Ruling: The Indian National Congress 1885-1985 (Sterling), and India: Creating a Modern Nation (Sterling) and is one of the co-editors of India: Rebellion to Republic (Sterling). He has also published numerous articles in journals and volumes of collected essays.
Preface to the Fifth Edition:
When the first edition of this book appeared, India's winning of freedom from British rule was still relatively recent: the success of moving out of the empire on which the sun never set, the victory of taking the jewel from the crown of that empire, was still a wondrous event. A generation later, the computerizing nation and growing economic giant that is present-day India, has tended to eclipse the phenomenon of how India became a free nation. Globalisation has turned attention away from the disinvestments of empire, away from remembering the post-war winds of change that blew European empires out of Asia. Yet both the freedom struggle and the implementation of freedom are different sides of the same coin. The one comes from the other. What the independent nation did with its opportunities and what it sought to achieve derived initially from the logic of the nationalist struggles and the ideas behind those struggles. The trajectory of the nation-state thereafter continued to be influenced by the dynamics of those nationalist struggles.
This fifth edition of Indian Nationalism coincides with the return of the Congress Party to political power as the leading party in a new government in India. The Party's revival highlights the continued potency of the Indian National Congress, an organisation above any, responsible for winning independence from British rule and a party which in various transformations has ruled the successor nation for most of its history.
The book presents the story of what was involved in the freedom struggle. It traces the history of the organisations largely responsible for making it clear to British politicians in their parliamentary fastnesses on the other side of the world the force of what they demanded. They created convincing proof that nationalist demands could not be left permanently unsatisfied and that withdrawal was a necessity, and imperative that could not be, nor should be, long denied. Part of momentum for liberation came from long-term processes. Brought together were conscious and less clearly formulated underlying notions of cultural and national identity and, of course, urgent drives for political and economic justice.
A range of exceptional people, brilliant and dedicated women and men, worked to realise what was fro them an inexorable logic, that of winning independence. The co-ordinated coherence of their nationalist actions and the seething mass dissatisfaction and popular participation created a persuasively compelling momentum. Such coherence was also proof of their capability to assume government and the rule the new nation. They were obvious successors to British administrators and to them went the implementation of political freedom and the realisation of the variety of dreams inherent in the drive to freedom. The idea of the nation continued after independence to be redefined in a process of re-thinking which both reflected altering priorities in a changing world and was a sign of a healthy and vigorous political polemic.
I have approached the past of Indian nationalism here through the movements involved in the struggle, the organisations involved and the people who led and were led. Such resistance has a long lineage back into the nineteenth century, as do formulations of the idea of nation. Organisations and ideas emerged, developed, were contested and displaced, just as different techniques and technologies of resistance were also created and contested. The idea of the nation and of national justice was defined in and through the process of contestation and struggle as much as it was articulated in more carefully argued texts. This is the concern of the chapters that follow.
This edition contains some slight revision to the sections on the nationalist struggle while the final chapter has been re-written to encompass an overview of developments up to the election of a Congress-led government at the centre early in 2004. As with the earlier editions, my thanks go to the many people and institutions who have helped or guided me over the years and who have provided me with encouragement and friendships that span most of my adult life. Of course what appears here remains my responsibility.
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