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The very title of the conference suggests the focus on the transition from colony to nation. This is an important historiographical statement as the words colony and nation are not fashionable in certain circles. Even when this transition is looked at, the emphasis is on the continuities, not the sea-change that it marked. In contrast, this conference, spread over three days, twenty-four presentations, attempted to map the complex and fundamental nature of this transformation.The format of the conference was presentation of books, recently published, forthcoming and under preparation. The wide variety of work presented all reflected an independent, non-colonial, secular tradition of history writing, which was indigenous without being indigenist.   Chairing the opening session, Professor Bipan Chandra set the tone with some important formulations. The national movement made the nation; the nation did not give rise to the national movement. Its significance was global, not merely national. It did not prescribe uniformity as other nationalisms did, it celebrated diversity. Irfan Habib, in his inaugural presentation, expressed concern over the fact that in recent years the colonial interpretation of Indian economic history had resurfaced in works such as that of Tirthankar Roy, despite the fact that such interpretations when argued by colonial authorities or subsequently in some academic writings, (e.g., by Morris D. Morris in the 1960’s and The Cambridge Economic History Vol II in the 1970s) were systematically demolished. He was shocked that Tirthankar Roy’s Oxford Economic History of India is even prescribed as a text by institutions like the Delhi School of Economics. He explained that he wrote The Indian Economy: 1858-1914, so that issues like tribute (or drain of wealth from India) and deindustrialization as sources of economic exploitation do not disappear from the teaching of economics in Indian universities.   Agreeing with Habib’s conclusions, Prabhat Patnaik urged a look at the drain from the point of view of its impact on the then global economy. He argued that colonial surplus appropriation was critical in British industrialization and that the British economy, once it faced competition from newly industrializing economies, relied heavily on the colonial connection to enable it to remain the world leader for a long period of time.   Mridula Mukherjee in her presentation of her book, Colonializing Agriculture: The Myth of Punjab Exceptionalism, critiqued the colonial view that Punjab ‘prospered’ under colonial rule and showed that Punjab exhibited the same tendencies towards underdevelopment ...


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