"Emblems for the Souls Consent" : India in the first decade of independence

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Seminar Date
May 4, 2011
As India embarked on its post-colonial journey in the 1950s, development and modernisation were the watchwords of the political class. Public rhetoric was characterised by an obsession with questions of political economy that inevitably came to provide the frame for the the project of governance -- the mission of "achieving our country", to borrow a phrase from the American philosopher Richard Rorty (Rorty, 1999). There was not much of a public debate on the form and substance of post colonial governance. While the political transition may have been marred by the violence of Partition, the institutional transition was presumed to have been smooth, with India getting the cream of the Civil Services. The question remained unasked as to how independent India would be governed by its elected representatives within the inherited colonial apparatus of law, bureaucracy and policing? Independence was seen as the prerequisite for the belated transition to modernity; a leap into an industrial society that required an acceleration of historical stages of development.
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