Today’s India is almost completely unrecognizable from what it was at the eve of the colonial conquest. A sovereign nation, with a teeming, industrious population, it is an economic powerhouse and the world’s largest democracy. The question is how did it get to where it is now?
Covering the period from 1800 to 1950, this study of about a dozen makers of modern India is a valuable addition to India’s cultural and intellectual history. More specifically, it shows how through the very act of writing, often in English, Indian society was radically reconfigured. Writing itself became endowed with almost a charismatic authority, which continued to influence generations, long after the author’s death.
By examining the lives and works of the makers of contemporary India, this study assesses their relationships with British colonialism and Indian traditions. Through debate, dialogue, conflict, confrontation, and reconciliation, India struggled not only with British colonialism, but also with itself and its own past, thus giving rise to a uniquely Indian version of liberalism.
The religious and social reforms that laid the groundwork for the modern sub-continental state were proposed and advocated in English by prominent native voices. Merging culture, politics, language, and literature, this pathbreaking volume adds considerably to our understanding of a nation that looks set to achieve greater heights in the coming decades.