The Peacemakers is the gripping story of India’s quest to create a common destiny for all people across the world based on the concept of ‘human rights’. In the years leading up to its independence from Great Britain, and more than a decade after, in a world torn asunder by unchecked colonial expansions and two world wars, Jawaharlal Nehru had a radical vision: bridging the ideological differences of the East and West, healing the growing rift between capitalist and communist, and creating ‘One World’ that would be free of empire, exploitation and war.
Madame Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit, Nehru’s sister, would lead the fight in and through the United Nations to turn all this into a reality. An electric orator and outstanding diplomat, she travelled across continents speaking in the voice of the oppressed and garnering support for her cause. The aim was to lay the foundation for global governance that would check uncontrolled state power, address the question of minorities and migrant peoples, and put an end to endemic poverty. Mahatma Gandhi’s legacy would go global. All that stood between the Indians and success was their own fallibility, diplomatic intrigue, and the blinding haze of mistrust and overwhelming fear engendered by the Cold War.
As Manu Bhagavan recounts the story of this quest, iconic figures are seen through new eyes as they challenge all of us to imagine a better future. Based on seven years of research, across three continents, and written in a crisp and riveting style, this is the first truly international history of newly independent India.
“Splendid” —The Speaking Tree/The Times of India * “Hugely engrossing” –CIPOD Realists Blog
“A must read” —Strategic Affairs * “Stunning” —The Book Review
“Fascinating”–Law and Other Things Blog * “Brilliantly researched” –IANS/The Hindustan Times
“Meticulously researched and lucidly written” —Mail Today * “Priceless” —Afternoon Despatch and Courier
“Excellent scholarly analysis…an essential read” —The American Historical Review
“Brilliantly researched and vividly written…. As we contemplate this moment of violent insanity on every continent, alternative paths toward peace in a world united for justice are herein profoundly illuminated”—Blanche Wiesen Cook, author of Eleanor Roosevelt, vols 1–3
“This riveting story recovers one of the most important moments in India’s relationship to the world at large. It captures the extraordinary passion with which a remarkable group of men and women dared to dream of “One World” founded on justice. It vividly describes how this high idealism was matched by an equally adroit political rhetoric that catapulted India to moral leadership. The book combines dramatic flair with rigorous and pathbreaking scholarship. It is a must read for anyone interested in India’s role in global affairs”—Pratap Bhanu Mehta, President and Chief Executive, Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi
“In this vividly written page-turner, Manu Bhagavan recovers a moment of extraordinary possibilities … [and] renews the study of how human rights norms were put on paper, with great consequences for their revival today”—Samuel Moyn, author of The Last Utopia: Human Rights in History
“The Peacemakers is a welcome and compelling challenge to sterile consensus about the kind of ideas that guide India’s world view. Bhagavan excavates the record of India’s formative years to reveal the extraordinary internationalism that guided the republic’s founding figures. Universalism and not narrowly constructed Third Worldism, Bhagavan demonstrates in this ground-breaking work, inspired India’s early international engagement. For Gandhi and Nehru, Bhagavan argues, the pursuit of one world and respect for human rights were integral to the construction of democratic India’s concept of sovereignty”—C. Raja Mohan, columnist, The Indian Express
“With narrative verve and meticulous scholarship, Manu Bhagavan tells an important though underappreciated story. He paints a vivid group portrait of the first generation of modern Indian leaders and thinkers, illuminating how they drew from the ideals of their ancient civilization and their victorious struggle for independence the basis for their country’s foreign policy at a pivotal moment in world history”—Strobe Talbott, President, Brookings Institution
“A powerful re-examination of Indian concepts of international affairs during the era of independence. Bhagavan has written an outstanding book, which helps us understand not just India’s foreign policy, but also how concepts of non-alignment and human rights — often created by Indians — pointed to a world beyond the Cold War”—Odd Arne Westad, Author of The Global Cold War and Director of IDEAS at The London School of Economics
“How appealing yet distant this vision is today. Professor Bhagavan shows us a clear roadmap that can be taken again if we only so choose”—Pam Omidyar, Founder and Chair of the Board, Humanity United
This volume investigates the diverse discourses of identity politics that relate the history of nationalism to current concerns and debates. The essays are laid out as a series of three interrelated conversations. Focusing upon the peripheries of modern India-Assam and Jammu and Kashmir-the first explores the ways in which people living on the margins of a homogenizing nation-state critique the centre and carve out different spaces of experience. The next part analyses the works of Mirza Ghalib and epic traditions in south India to delineate the plurality of narrative and consciousness in literary production. The last section interrogates the writings of Muhammad Iqbal and Mahatma Gandhi to shed new light on their ideas of justice and to situate them in the moment of manoeuvre in nationalist discourse in late colonial India. The volume concludes with a discussion of what it means to construct a post-history of communalism. The essays taken together present an engaging account of the multiplicity of historical experiences in India both within and without the discourse of nationalism. This book will interest scholars and students of modern South Asian history, politics, and sociology, particularly those concerned with identity politics and nationalism. It will also be useful for policymakers, activists, and civil society organizations.
Contributors: Yasmin Saikia, Chitralekha Zutshi, Paula Richman, Syed Akbar Hyder, Faisal Devji, Ajay Skaria, & Gyanendra Pandey
“Much that is new and welcome” —The Indian Economic and Social History Review
How are hierarchies constructed? How do they work? How are they resisted? Seeking to recover histories and voices of ‘those from below’, Speaking Truth to Power and its companion, Claiming Power from Below, explore various issues raised by the lived realities of Dalits, a term deployed here broadly to encompass the specifics of the Caste community while simultaneously pointing to solidarities with other marginalized groups. Together the two volumes examine areas like social hierarchy and reform, the role of religion, the idea of resistance, the functionality of the continued use of the term ‘Dalit’, and the scope of current and future Dalit literature.
The first volume focuses on the role of religion-encompassing beliefs, ethics, ritual, devotional literature, Folk culture, popular narratives, and Artistic expression-and its role in the Construction and deconstruction of caste and power in India. In this context, it also examines the hierarchy of gender, in three different religious traditions (Hindu, Muslim, and Catholic Christian) and regions (Bengal, Urban North India, and Tamil Nadu), in modern times. Book I highlights the role of Buddhism in the social and Political life of Dalits, focusing on readings of early Pali texts, conversions to Buddhism in modern times, and Buddhist artistic expression. The book also critically investigates such areas as popular imagery of B.R. Ambedkar and mystical devotionalism.
The second volume investigates a wide variety of issues related to Dalit politics and literature. Underlining the emergence of the Dalit as a new political subject, it brings together pertinent case studies from different regions and sectors—the politics of the Chamars of Uttar Pradesh; the multiple identities of backward-caste Muslims; colonial oppression of peasants in Bombay Presidency; schooling of Dalit women; and the lives and stories of Bangladesh war victims of 1971. The collection also examines B.R. Ambedkar’s alternative vision of economic development and the linkages betweenrace, caste, and discrimination. The last section discusses issues relating to the articulation of resistance in Dalit literature—the role of the Dalit Lekhak Sangh; representations of women in short stories; and the underpinnings of Dalit poetry. The volume also analyses the paradoxes of such cultural politics.
Dedicated to Eleanor Zelliot, a pioneering scholar of Dalit studies, Speaking Truth to Power and Claiming Power from Below explore the lives and creations of Dalits-the oppressed-and seek to reexamine the subaltern question in the subcontinent through a variety of disciplines and academic approaches.
“[In these volumes] the authors have…[highlighted]…facets of the life, culture, and politics of the teased and oppressed…. They deserve congratulations for [a]…publication distinct for the imbedded passion and intellectual depth.” —The Hindu
“Exploring the emergence of the Bhakti tradition in its composite form, construction of iconography, evolution of religious art…has been the need of the hour and [Speaking Truth to Power] amicably fulfills the requirements…a work that would be read across disciplines.” —The Book Review
“[Claiming Power from Below] presents a kaleidoscopic picture of the universe of dalits across time and space…a befitting tribute to [Zelliot’s] work.” —Economic and Political Weekly
“Balanced and complete. The variety of perspectives and approaches, as well as the broad scope of subject matter, reflect the extremely high level of complexity of the issues surrounding caste, class, and power in the Indian subcontinent.” —International Law and Politics
Princely states were semi-autonomous territories that made up roughly 40 per cent of South Asia under British rule. This engaging study looks at educational reform in the context of debates on modernity and anti-colonial nationalism in the two leading progressive princely states in twentieth-century India, Baroda and Mysore.
Sovereign Spheres explores the ways in which colonial authority was challenged and negotiated through both direct political action and more subtle, long-term initiatives involving social and cultural reform. In the process, the book furthers our understanding of domination and resistance and forces us to rethink our notions of the heretofore largely ignored princely states. These regions were central not only to the ideology of empire, but to nationalist visions of postcoloniality as well. In examining the role of princely state universities in the production of modern, governable subjects, the author interrogates the nature of public and private domains in the subcontinent and argues for a fundamental remodeling of colonial India.
Ground-breaking and authoritative, this book will be of importance not just to researchers of South Asian history, but to scholars and students of power dynamics, social reform movements, state formation, and to all those interested in comparative understandings of imperialism, nationalism, and modernity.
“a…radical reinterpretation…. a refreshing take…that, moreover, is quite entertaining to read” –Ian Copland, in The Economic and Political Weekly
“an important contribution…well-researched and clearly written” –Satadru Sen, in Studies in History
“breaks new ground…original work” —The Telegraph
“strikingly creative…a mastery of current scholarship…with well-researched evidence” –Michael H. Fisher, Danforth Professor of History, Oberlin College
“breaks new ground…a welcome addition to historians’ debates on colonial modernity” –Dipesh Chakrabarty, Professor of History and South Asian Studies, University of Chicago