Comparative and International Perspectives
Edited by Jens Bartelson, Martin Hall and Jan Teorell
Chapter 3: De-centering federal origins: India and the contested appropriation of federal democracy
The chapter explores conceptions during the early twentieth century regarding the required and desired underpinnings of a post-imperial India – one in which both British India and the indirectly ruled princely states were first, by the British, proposed and then, through the work of the Indian Constituent Assembly, made to constitute a federation. It specifically enquires into India’s federal origins – that is, what enabled the push towards federalism and what was it foremost an answer to – and the extent to which the findings confirm Europe-centered accounts and expectations. In the chapter, India is found to equal an exemplary case when we address the manner in which notions of proper and full-fledged statehood developed as part of imperial and decolonizing undertakings. India’s federal origins, moreover, attest to the restricted validity of regarding state making in Europe as unaffected by imperial commitments and the rest of the world as equivalent to a ‘diffused Europe.’
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