Philanthropy and the Development of Modern India: In the Name of Nation

ISBN : 9780198868637

Arun Kumar
224 Pages
153 x 234 mm
Pub date
Sep 2021
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Drawing on the history of the philanthropy of India's economic elites, Arun Kumar discusses how their ideas and understanding of development have shifted and changed over time. Going beyond the more familiar criticisms of development's entanglements with colonialism, Kumar interrogates the changes in development imaginaries in terms of modernity's entanglements with the national question, including anti-colonial nationalism and post-colonial nation-building during the twentieth century. Development, he suggests, can be usefully read and critiqued as national-modern. Philanthropy and the Development of Modern India plots the careers of the national-modern in four main sites of development: civil society, community, science and technology, and selfhood. In an unusual move reading socio-economic nationalist reform from the first half of the twentieth century alongside post-colonial development from the second half, Kumar uncovers the lineages of contemporary development ideas such as self-care, self-reliance, merit, etc. In all this, elites were driven by a 'pedagogic reflex': to teach different sections of Indian society of how to be modern and developed. Contrary to development studies' characterization of elites as anti-development or captors of scarce resources, Kumar shows how elites longed for development for others. Development provided the moral justification, in their calculations, for protecting their commercial interests as they navigated the turbulent Indian twentieth century.


1 Development, modernity, nation: An Introduction
2 Community: In Nation's Name
3 Self: Meritorious Few, Masses, and Citizens
4 Making Science Indian
5 Development: Elites' Pedagogic Reflex
Coda: The Calculus of Development
Appendix: Elites' Historiographic Anxieties - A Methodological Caution

About the author: 

Arun Kumar is a Lecturer at the University of York, UK. He researches the role of businesses and philanthropy in India's development. His archival research has been funded by the Economic History Society, UK and the Rockefeller Archives Center, USA. In an earlier life, he was trained as an architect and a development manager, and worked for nearly eight years consulting with advocacy groups, NGOs, think tanks, donors, and independent research organizations in India.

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