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India in the World since 1947

National and Transnational Perspectives

Edited By Andreas Hilger and Corinna R. Unger

In recent years, India has become a favorite metaphor to describe developments and phenomena considered characteristic of globalization. Rapid economic and population growth, environmental degradation, geostrategic rivalries, mega cities, global cultural production: India has it all. A transnational perspective on the 65 years of India’s independence has much to offer and some to add to existing studies. The argument is based on the observation that India has a rich history of transnational connections and exchanges, and that it is important to contextualize India’s current developments in its transnational history. Much of what has been happening in the past twenty years has roots which reach back much farther. Only if we study India in the world since 1947 we can understand India in the world today and tomorrow.


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III. Resources


The First Stages of India’s Nuclear Policy1 Hans-Joachim Bieber Nuclear planning before independence On the eve of independence, India was still a largely agrarian society. Although there was some industry, mainly textile processing and steel production, and even a relatively extensive rail network, more than 70% of the country’s popula- tion worked in agriculture; only about 10% were employed in manufacturing and industry, and 14% in the service sector.2 In 1939, the generating capacity of British India’s power plants amounted to just about one million kilowatts; elec- trification had occurred in only 17% of all communities with more than 5,000 inhabitants. The majority of the population relied on the use of wood and cow dung as the most important source of energy.3 Future energy needs depended on the speed and extent of India’s industrialization. The members of the independ- ence movement had various ideas on what industrialization was to accomplish. According to Mahatma Gandhi, the movement‘s charismatic leader well into the 1930s, industrialization was to satisfy the Indian population’s basic material needs. Gandhi wanted to preserve (or restore) agrarian social structures and maintain traditional trades and crafts. Moreover, he wished to retain cultural values such as simplicity, sense of community, and spirituality. By the time in- dependence came within reach, however, the Indian National Congress, the po- litical organization of the independence movement, was led by Jawaharlal Ne- hru. And Nehru’s vision of India’s future was influenced by European models, particularly by the Soviet combination of industrialization, socialism,...

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