Much has changed in the world of South Asian history-writing since Sumit Sarkars renowned classic, Modern India (1983). The passage of thirty years having rendered that work thoroughly dated, the futility of any attempt to revise it became increasingly clear to me, especially as over this period my own historical perspectives took new and unexpected directions, says the author. The present work is an entirely fresh view of the same period.
Focusing on three huge areas - Economy, Environment and Culture - Professor Sarkar offers his magisterial perspective on these.
Scientific discourses, laws, forest administration, peasants and adivasis, irrigation and conflicts over land-use are examined, as are agrarian relations, commercialization, indebtedness and famine. Trade, finance and industry are other major focus areas.
Modern urban India is scrutinized via the literature on its big cities. Sociabilities, caste configurations and public culture (Theater, cinema and sports) are discussed, as are literature, dance, music and painting.
In conclusion, says Professor Sarkar, 'I have within each chapter incorporated the relevant historiographical developments, changes and debates. Separate bibliographical sections will I hope facilitate the work of teachers and students.