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Memories of a city

Book>> Ahmedabad, Shock city of Twentieth Century India, by Howard Spodek, Orient Blackswan, Rs 795

Published: Friday 08 March 2013

Memories of a cityAt least three times in the past century Ahmedabad was a “shock city”, an arena in which developments of national importance took place first and most intensely. Gandhi led India’s independence struggle; Ahmedabad was his home. Immediately after Independence, as India began its modern industrialization, Ahmedabad’s textile magnates entered into multinational agreements to expand into new entrepreneurial directions based on chemicals and pharmaceuticals. They also brought to Ahmedabad such modern institutions as the first Indian Institute of Management, the National Institute of Design, and the Physical Research Laboratory. Late in the twentieth century and early in the twenty-first, India experimented with a series of new political strategies, and again Ahmedabad provided leading innovations with national repercussions: the Mahagujarat movement for a linguistic state; the Nav Nirman agitation for clean government; the KHAM alliance for greater inclusiveness. The politics of Hindutva, however, turned Ahmedabad into India’s demonstration case of the lethal consequences of crossing the moral boundary into uncontrolled political-religious violence. Students of urbanisation globally, and of the history and politics of modern India, will find the present account invaluable.

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