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Congress and Indian Nationalism: The Pre-Independence Phase

Richard Sission
Stanley Wolpert
University of California Press
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From Book Cover: "Seventeen distinguished historians and political scientists discuss the phenomenon of Indian Nationalism, one hundred years after the founding of the Congress Party. They offer important new interpretations of Nationalism's evolution during more than six decades of crucial change and rapid growth. As India's foremost political institution, the National Congress with its changing fortunes mirrored Indian aspirations, ideals, dreams, and failures during the country's struggle for nationhood. Many difficulties faced by the Pre-Independence Indian National Congress are critically examined for the first time in this volume. Major times of crisis and transition are considered, as well as the tension between mass action and political control, and the problem of creating and maintaining unity in the face of divisive social and economic interests and between deeply hostile religious communities. A composite portrait of the Congress Party emerges. We see a coalition of often conflicting communities and interests much like India itself, struggling to stay together, tenuously united by little more at times than a common 'enemy,' the imperial British Raj. But linked together in precarious, seemingly haphazard fashion, shifting networks of elite political entrepreneurs manage to keep India's National Congress alive. They kept it alive long enough to convince the British that it would be easier to 'Quit India' than to try to hang onto it by force. With the abrupt transfer of power from the British to the independent Dominions of India and Pakistan in 1947, Congress provided institutional sinews for the administration of what had been British India and over 500 Princely States. By contributing to a deeper understanding of India's nationalist experience, this volume may illuminate the experience of other Third World states."