Modern India, 1857-1947

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Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Foundation CoreSUS1HS4084

Course Coordinator and Team: Salil Misra

Pre-requisites: None

Aim: To provide an overview of the process of the making of modern/modernizing India during the second half of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century.

Brief description of modules/ Main modules:

Course details: This is a course essentially about the making of Modern India and about the major processes and structures that shaped modern India. A major assumption is that the Indian economy, polity and society were shaped largely by the two century of India’s colonial experience and the challenges that developed to colonialism. To understand the nature of society and polity in independent India, the history of preceding around nine decades is extremely crucial. It is hoped that the seven modules listed below should be able to tell the story of the making of modern India.

The Colonial State (a new and distinctive type of state; the apparatus of the state – the army, police and the “steel frame”; the support system; the census and the surveys; ideologies of the Raj; the expansion in the 20th century; the constitutional initiatives – 1909, 1919 and 1935.)

The Colonial Economy (What was colonial about the economy?; Era of finance capitalism, de-industrialization, commercialization of agriculture; development of modern industries - railways, cotton, jute, iron and steel; emergence of new classes – the capitalist class, the industrial workers and the middle class; the economy during the two world wars)

Resistance to the State (the peasant struggles during the post 1857 period – Indigo, Pabna, Malabar; beginnings of organized modern politics; early Congress activities; Swadeshi movement; the aftermath of Swadeshi movement).

Social Reform and Revivalism (Ram Mohun Roy to Vidyasagar, Reforms in Bengal and Maharashtra, Arya Samaj, Aligarh Movement, social awakening through caste and gender).

Emergence of Indian Nationalism and the Nationalist Movement (general discussion on the phenomenon; emergence of Indian nationalism and its stages; popular manifestations of Indian nationalism – non-cooperation, civil disobedience and the Quit India; Gandhian politics and strategy; the role of ideology; other strands of Indian nationalism – left and revolutionary terrorism)

Identity Formation (19th century transformation in the community structure; development of identities along the lines of caste, religion and language; the further development of identity movements in the 20th century)

Freedom and Partition (culmination of major 20th century ideologies; the story of 1940s; the context of the world war; the aftermath of the War and the emergence of a new global power structure)

Assessment Scheme: The course will have three assessment situations consisting of two written essays constituting 30% each and an end-semester examination with 40% weightage.

Reading List

  • A.R.Desai, Social Background of Indian Nationalism
  • Bernard S.Cohn, India: The Social Anthropology of a Civilization.
  • Bipan Chandra, India’s Struggle for Independence, 1857-1947
  • Bipan Chandra, History of Modern India
  • Bipan Chandra, Essays on Colonialism.
  • C.Y.Chintamani, Indian Politics since the Mutiny
  • D.A.Low (ed.), Congress and the Raj
  • Irfan Habib, Indian Economy, 1858-1914.
  • Kenneth W.Jones, Socio-Religious Reform Movements in British India
  • M.N.Srinivas, Social Change in Modern India
  • Ranajit Guha, Elementary Aspects of Peasant Insurgency in Colonial India.
  • R.P.Dutt, India Today
  • Sucheta Mahajan, Independence and Partition: The Erosion of Colonial Power in India
  • Sekhar Bandyopadhyay, India from Plassey to Partition
  • Sekhar Bandyopadhyay (ed.), Nationalist Movement in India: A Reader
  • Study material prepared by IGNOU on Modern India
  • Sumit Sarkar, Critique of Colonial India
  • Sumit Sarkar, Modern India, 1885-1947
  • Susan Bayly, Caste, Society and Politics in India
  • T.R.Metcalf, Ideologies of the Raj
  • Tirthankar Roy, Economic History of Modern India.