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Decolonization and the Struggle for National Liberation in India (1909–1971)

Historical, Political, Economic, Religious and Architectural Aspects


Thierry Di Costanzo and Guillaume Ducœur

At the end of the First World War, the Raj remained economically or even strategically more central than ever in the general colonial architecture of the British Empire. Yet, between the two World Wars, the colonial regime hung only by a thread when confronted with the rising popularity of the nationalist movements. As a result, independence was granted in 1947 to this major component of the Empire, a truly cataclysmic event for the remainder of the world. This reality conflicts with the idea that a well-managed, peaceful decolonization process was launched by the British authorities. The independence of British India proceeded at the same speed as the Partition of British India which had both immediate and distant, but surely terrible, consequences like the 1971 war with Pakistan over Bangladesh.
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Punjab’s New Capital City Chandigarh: Aims and Reality


Following the subcontinent’s independence from Britain and its partition into India and Pakistan in 1947, the former Imperial Province of Punjab was divided between the two new sovereign states. East Punjab with its Muslim majority came to separate existence as an individual state of Pakistan; West Punjab, where Hindus and Sikhs made up the majority, emerged as an individual state of India. The decision about the fate of the Punjabi towns of Lahore and Amritsar was uneasy for the Boarder Commission. Finally Lahore was given to Pakistan and Amritsar to India. Amritsar, being the spiritual capital of the Sikhs, could hardly become the administrative capital of Indian West Punjab. At the same time, India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru blamed Imperial New Delhi for its “un-Indianness” and dreamt about “a new town symbolic of the freedom of India, unfettered by the traditions of the past”1. The loss of Lahore which in any case held its architectural splendours from the Moghul era gave him the opportunity to realize at least that dream. In fact a total of 300 new towns was the target by the end of the 20th century, but only a few were to be built. Introducing democracy in a country where 80 per cent of the people were living in villages meant concentrating on rural issues for a start. Yet the question of building a new capital for East Punjab could not be postponed ad calendas graecas. First plans for Chandigarh – its very name had...

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