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Ramgotra, Manjeet (2017) 'India’s Republican Moment: Freedom in Nehru’s Political Thought.' In: Bhatia, Udit, (ed.), The Indian Constituent Assembly: Deliberations on Democracy. New Delhi: Routledge India, pp. 196-221.

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Abstract

In the late twenties, Jawaharlal Nehru calls for India’s complete independence rather than Dominion Status within the British Commonwealth. Nehru argues that India ought to be a free and democratic republic based on popular sovereignty and recognized by other states as an equally independent state. To achieve these ends, he calls for the creation of a representative and democratically elected Constituent Assembly to establish a constitution for an independent India. This paper explores the idea of the republic in Nehru’s political thought at the Indian founding. The reasons for which Nehru prescribes a republic have been somewhat overlooked. First, there is historical precedent that republics have established complete independence from external (imperial) domination and individual freedom from absolute rule within the state. This republican view of freedom is influenced by Montesquieu’s normative doctrine of the separation and balance of powers. Second, the idea of republic allows Nehru to deal with the princely Indian States and to assert India’s unity. Finally, the creation of an Indian national identity over and above partial identities is facilitated by the notion of a democratic republic that incorporates individuals on equal footing and creates a constitutional and free system of government. Nehru therefore offers an example of how Western discourses can be appropriated and creatively redeployed to respond to local problems, and in doing so contribute new insights to larger discussions on the meaning of freedom and republicanism more broadly.

Item Type: Book Chapters
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > Department of Politics & International Studies
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
J Political Science > JC Political theory
J Political Science > JQ Political institutions (Asia, Africa, Australia)
ISBN: 9781351654999
Date Deposited: 01 Aug 2018 07:28
URI: http://eprints.soas.ac.uk/id/eprint/26157

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