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Nationalism and Development

Developing South Asia: From Colonialism to Globalization Nationalism and Development 1. A brief history of Indian nationalism

Indian National Congress founded in 1885; independence in 1947

Gentlemanly memorials to government (lawyers and civil servants)

Nationalist economic theory

Drain of wealth (artificial export surplus)

Deindustrialisation (artisans; textile weavers and spinners)

Excessive land revenue burdens

RC Dutt’s Economic History of India (1901-1903)

Problem of Indian nationalist movement: uniting a stratified country

Rural/urban; rich/poor; Hindu/Muslim; Hindu caste society

Gandhi and peasants

Critique of ‘mendicant’ politics

Swadeshi: 1905 and mass action: boycott

Self-help though swadeshi industries, national schools and attempts at village improvement and organisation

Non-cooperation movement (1921-22)

Nehru and socialist nationalism

Simon Commission (constitution) boycott (1928-29)

Civil Disobedience (1930s)

Congress Ministries (1937-39)

Congress fighting elections and dependent on support of rich upper-

caste landlords and farmers

2. Indian Nationalism and National Planning

Nehru v Gandhi: ‘Industrialise or perish’ v ‘Industrialise and perish’

Nehru wins: but continues to face the dilemma of economic development for a mainly rural, agrarian country.

Modernisation and Nehru (Harrow, Cambridge, Inner Temple)

For Nehru, imperialism was an economic form propelled by the imperatives of

capitalist production. Therefore, political independence would not necessarily

remove India’s vulnerability to economic imperialism

National Planning Commission (1938-40): Planned modernization

Heavy industry

Nehru convinced that industrialisation would gain his twin aims of ensure social justice and poverty eradication

State-directed industrialisation

Constitutional democracy

Social redistribution

Planned that the state would actively create conditions for economic expansion by investment and direction of a public sector that would function alongside private enterprise in a mixed economy. Modelled on Europe. Fantasy of technological fixes

3. Development planning in independent India


Legacy of colonial economics

No developmental or redistributive ambitions; commercially driven

Commitment to cheap government

Huge and impoverished agrarian economy

famine threats; refugees, Punjab partition

Social inequality

Need to maintain economic independence

Anti-modernity of Gandhian nationalism

Hangover of the nationalist economic critique


Heavy industry (‘1950s India was in love with concrete’)

Legacy of the war; 10th largest industrial producer

Mainly independent of foreign aid or capital

Within the rubric of democracy

publically owned industries

generating revenue for redistribution of wealth

Economic Programme Committee (Nehru chair)

Five-Year Plans (1951 onwards)


1951 First five-year plan

called for11% growth in national income

used $3.7 billion of public funds

$3 billion restoring India’s prewar consumer goods production


repairing communications

attempts to improve agricultural yields


life expectancy 32 years (1/2 that of US)

TB killing more than 500,000 annually

India had to purchase 4 million tons of wheat from the US; remained a food-deficient country for another two decades


life expectancy 51 years


The emergency (1975-76) and structural adjustments (1991)