This volume interrogates the concept of decolonisation, which is often taken to mean a transfer of power from a colonial to an indigenous elite. However, decolonisation involved a much more complex historical experience for the people of the postcolonial nations. It did not necessarily mean a clinical break with the past, but was rather an incomplete, complicated process, as different groups began to seek different meanings of freedom and imagined multiple pathways for their future development. Old nationalisms were questioned and new identities were born, as fresh boundaries were drawn, both geographically and socially.
This book captures some of these complexities of the decolonisation process in South Asia—across India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh—by focusing on these uncertainties and debates of the transition period from colonial to the postcolonial. The essays engage with a range of issues related to decolonisation, including electoral systems, forms of political systems, democracy and authoritarianism, economic planning, armed insurrection, ideological consensus and conflict, minority rights and exclusivist politics.
Sekhar Bandyopadhyay is Professor of Asian History at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. He is also currently Director, New Zealand India Research Institute.
List of Abbreviations
Part I: Independence and Partition
Part II: Democracy, Development and Politics
Part III: Community, Citizenship and Conflict
A. H. Ahmed Kamal
Notes on the Contributors