South Asia

Organized Panel Session

2 - The Indian Constitution and the Commonwealth: A Historical Exploration into the Question of Sovereignty

Thursday, March 22
7:30 PM - 9:30 PM
Location: Jackson, Mezzanine Level

The very first line of the Preamble of the Indian Constitution carries two separate but related moments of great political and legal significance for our understanding of the postcolonial Indian polity.  While the first moment consists of the declaration of sovereignty both of Indians as a people and India as a newly independent democratic republic, the second moment lays the ground for the constitution in the categories of justice, liberty, equality, and fraternity.  In the sequencing of these two moments, the idea of political sovereignty both precedes and lays the ground for the second moment of the people enacting and adopting the constitution. Yet, surprisingly, even as this declaration of the political sovereignty of India as part of the Preamble of the Constitution was being drafted, Jawaharlal Nehru, the foremost leader of the Indian National Congress was also at the same time negotiating an agreement with the British Empire to make India a member of the [British] Commonwealth of Nations with the British monarch as its sovereign figure.  In this paper I explore the significance of these conflicting and contradictory political acts between 1946 and 1950 that seemed to both affirm and undermine the sovereignty of India. The primary question I ask is, what does this episode, which has not received the attention it deserves in scholarship, tell us about the nature of the discourse of sovereignty and the lingering legacy of empire in postcolonial India?

Mithi Mukherjee

University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado

Presentation(s):

Send Email for Mithi Mukherjee


Assets

2 - The Indian Constitution and the Commonwealth: A Historical Exploration into the Question of Sovereignty



Attendees who have favorited this

Please enter your access key

The asset you are trying to access is locked. Please enter your access key to unlock.

Send Email for The Indian Constitution and the Commonwealth: A Historical Exploration into the Question of Sovereignty