Contesting Modernity amidst Global Uncertainty: Gandhian and Nehruvian Visions of Market Morality and Economic Nationalism

Jason Jackson, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

This paper traces how the emergence of a relatively cohesive Indian economic nationalism organized around imperial resistance and economic drain theory in the late nineteenth century and culminating in the swadeshi movement and boycotts of British manufactured goods began to fracture in the early to mid-twentieth century. This contestation over the moral basis of markets and the substantive content of Indian economic nationalism was informed by competing economic theories and conceptions of technology and is crucial for understanding the policy direction of the soon-to-be independent India. The paper proceeds by identifying critical historical antecedents of post-independence policymaking in late colonial development debates as two new sets of nationalist beliefs emerged to challenge the imperial development orthodoxy: Mohandas Gandhi’s moral philosophy and Jawaharlal Nehru’s scientific socialism. The analysis highlights the crucial importance of competing cultural frames in the battle of economic ideas, a dimension that is often downplayed or ignored in literatures on the role of ideas across different strands of the new institutionalisms.

No extended abstract or paper available

 Presented in Session 59. Data Intensive Approaches to Civil Society and Economic Concepts