What We Are Reading Today: Nehru’s India; A history in seven myths

What We Are Reading Today: Nehru’s India; A history in seven myths
Short Url
Updated 17 October 2022
Follow

What We Are Reading Today: Nehru’s India; A history in seven myths

What We Are Reading Today: Nehru’s India; A history in seven myths

Edited by Karen Bakker

Nehru’s India brings a provocative but nuanced set of new interpretations to the history of early independent India. Drawing from her extensive research over the past two decades, Taylor Sherman reevaluates the role of Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first prime minister, in shaping the nation. She argues that the notion of Nehru as the architect of independent India, as well as the ideas, policies, and institutions most strongly associated with his premiership — nonalignment, secularism, socialism, democracy, the strong state, and high modernism — have lost their explanatory power. They have become myths.

Sherman examines seminal projects from the time and also introduces readers to little-known personalities and fresh case studies, including India’s continued engagement with overseas Indians, the importance of Buddhism in secular India, the transformations in industry and social life brought about by bicycles, a riotous and ultimately doomed attempt to prohibit the consumption of alcohol in Bombay, the early history of election campaign finance, and the first state-sponsored art exhibitions. The author also shines a light on underappreciated individuals, such as Apa Pant, the charismatic diplomat who influenced foreign policy from Kenya to Tibet, and Urmila Eulie Chowdhury, the rebellious architect who helped oversee the building of Chandigarh.