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Makers of Modern India

Makers of Modern India

Edited by Ramachandra Guha

ISBN 9780674725966

Publication date: 10/14/2013

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Modern India is the world's largest democracy, a sprawling, polyglot nation containing one-sixth of all humankind. The existence of such a complex and distinctive democratic regime qualifies as one of the world's bona fide political miracles. Furthermore, India's leading political thinkers have often served as its most influential political actors—think of Gandhi, whose collected works run to more than ninety volumes, or Ambedkar, or Nehru, who recorded their most eloquent theoretical reflections at the same time as they strove to set the delicate machinery of Indian democracy on a coherent and just path.

Out of the speeches and writings of these thinker-activists, Ramachandra Guha has built the first major anthology of Indian social and political thought. Makers of Modern India collects the work of nineteen of India's foremost generators of political sentiment, from those whose names command instant global recognition to pioneering subaltern and feminist thinkers whose works have until now remained obscure and inaccessible. Ranging across manifold languages and cultures, and addressing every crucial theme of modern Indian history—race, religion, language, caste, gender, colonialism, nationalism, economic development, violence, and nonviolence—Makers of Modern India provides an invaluable roadmap to Indian political debate.

An extensive introduction, biographical sketches of each figure, and guides to further reading make this work a rich resource for anyone interested in India and the ways its leading political minds have grappled with the problems that have increasingly come to define the modern world.


  • India has been fortunate in the abundance of thinkers who wrote extensively, and often evocatively, on the fundamental issues raised by the task of forging a modern nation from a severely fragmented and backward colony. Guha presents well-chosen excerpts, expertly contextualized by insightful introductions, from the writings and speeches of nineteen such thinker-activists who reflected, often in conflict with each other, on the critical dilemmas of their time: colonialism, religion, language, caste and Untouchability, the status of women, grass-roots governance, electoral systems, regional discord and India’s engagement with the world… Makers of Modern India is not meant to be closed-ended, but it effectively brings together the great arguers, fiercely independent in thought and action, from whose disputatious but educated debate emerged the political traditions and compromises that underpin India’s complex reality.

    —Navtej Sarna, Times Literary Supplement


  • Ramachandra Guha is a leading historian of modern India, living in Bangalore. His books include Gandhi Before India and India After Gandhi.

Book Details

  • 512 pages
  • 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Belknap Press