At least three times in the last century Ahmedabad was a “shock city”, an arena in which developments of national importance took place first and most intensely. Gandhi led India’s independence struggle; Ahmedabad was his home. He and his fellow citizens, together, honed their strategies for national freedom and for urban development.
Immediately after Independence, as India began its modern industrialization, Ahmedabad’s textile magnates entered into multinational agreements to expand into new entrepreneurial directions based on chemicals and pharmaceuticals. They also brought to Ahmedabad such modern institutions as the first Indian Institute of Management, the National Institute of Design, and the Physical Research Laboratory. They chose to work with the Textile Labour Association, enabling that Gandhian union to flourish as a model for all of India, and later to give birth to SEWA, one of India’s most important women’s organizations.
Late in the twentieth century and early in the twenty-first, India experimented with a series of new political strategies, and again Ahmedabad provided leading innovations with national repercussions: the Mahagujarat movement for a linguistic state; the Nav Nirman agitation for clean government; the KHAM alliance for greater inclusiveness. The politics of Hindutva, however, turned Ahmedabad into India’s demonstration case of the lethal consequences of crossing the moral boundary into uncontrolled political-religious violence.
To understand the major turning points in modern India—the legacies of Gandhian leadership, of multinational industrialization, and of innovative strategies of political organization in a creative democracy—one must understand the transformations introduced by the people of Ahmedabad.
Students of urbanization globally, and of the history and politics of modern India, will find the present account invaluable.
Part 1. The Gandhian Era, 1915–1950
1. Gandhi Chooses Ahmedabad
2. Gandhi Assembles New Leadership
3. Vallabhbhai Patel Builds the Congress Political Machine
4. Anasuyaben Sarabhai Engages Ahmedabad's Working Classes
Part 2. The Westernizing City, 1950–1980
5. Ambalal Sarabhai and Kasturbhai Lalbhai Build an Industrialized, Westernized, Prosperous, Cultured, World-Class Company Town
6. Indulal Yagnik Challenges the Gandhian Consensus
Part 3. Creativity and Chaos, 1969–7. Communal Violence, 1969
8. Chimanbhai Patel Provokes the Nav Nirman Movement, 1974
9. The Mills Close, the TLA Falters, and the Municipal Corporation Goes Broke
10. Madhavsinh Solanki Invokes the Politics of Caste and Class
11. Ahmedabad 2000: The Capitalist City Out of Control
12. Godhra, the Gujarat Pogrom, and the Consequences