Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Faculty Profiles

National University of Singapore
10 Kent Ridge Crescent, Singapore 119260

Office: AS7/02-02
Email: sasgk@nus.edu.sg
Tel: 65164701
Homepage: http://profile.nus.edu.sg/fass/sasgk/
| Brief Introduction | Teaching Areas | Current Research | Publications

Brief Introduction Top

About Me

I was born in a North Indian town and grew up in New Delhi and completed my schooling and undergraduate studies there. I then joined Jawaharlal Nehru University (New Delhi) for a M. A. in Modern and Contemporary History. I also pursued a two-year M. Phil programme there. I then worked with Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) in New Delhi for three years as an Editor and Corporate Communications professional.


The award of a Commonwealth Scholarship made it possible for me to study for a Ph D at the University of Cambridge in UK. I have held post-doctoral research positions at the Indian Council of Historical Research and the Centre for Contemporary Studies of the Nehru Memorial Museum & Library, New Delhi. Prior to joining the South Asian Studies Programme, of which I have been a member since its inception in June 1999, I was an Assistant Professor at the School of Arts in Nanyang Technological University.


 I have also held visiting research appointments at the Asia Research Institute in NUS and the Research School of Pacific & Asian Studies of the Australian National University.


 At SASP I am involved in a range of courses where the challenge of talking as an ‘insider’ about one of the most exciting and dramatically changing regions in the world continues to inspire me.


 When I am not teaching, I lead a ‘double life’ as a researcher, looking at old records in dusty archives, interviewing informants in the field, or simply chasing writing deadlines! Outside of work I love to travel and have a serious interest, both spectatorial and critical, in popular Hindi cinema!


Teaching Areas Top

Teaching Interests


Modern History of South Asia


Contemporary India


Courses Taught


GEK1035 Nations and Nationalisms in South Asia


SN2279 The Making of Modern India


SN3262/HY3236 The Struggle for India, 1920-1964


SN4202 Contemporary India: Context & Narratives


Current Research Top

Roads Not Taken: The Politics of States Reorganization in Post-Colonial India, 1953-1956

This project is focused upon the demands for the internal reorganization of India which were made after independence. These demands were raised in a number of regions and aspirations for statehood were articulated along lines of language, cultural zones, economic resources and natural endowments of regions and sub-regions. In the first six years after independence, the new leadership worked to overcome the legacies of partition which had seen the cessation and division of two important regional societies, Bengal and Punjab. These years also saw the political ¿integration¿ of over five hundred and fifty princely states which were brought under the direct rule of the Indian federal government. However, the building blocks of Indian federalism were still not in place as no consensus had emerged on what could be the main principle and basis upon which internal administrative boundaries could be constructed and the nation state carved into coherent, regional entities.


This process of internal reorganization took place from 1953 to 1956. These years were critical as demands for statehood on the basis of language were raised in a number of regions and violent and persistent agitations with considerable popular support were mounted. The Indian state was forced to appoint a States Reorganization Commission in 1953. This commission had extensive jurisdiction in looking at the issue of the principles to be considered for creation of new states and the demarcation of territories which would be constituted into coherent regional units. The Commission reported in 1955 and its recommendations led to the formation of 14 states within the Indian federation in 1956.


My research will examine the politics of states reorganization during these foundational years of post-colonial India by looking at the range of demands which were articulated for regional autonomy and statehood. It will also critically examine what the state¿s reorganization commission was able to do. In particular it will highlight the unfinished business of the Commission in not engaging with a number of demands and issues which have persisted over the last fifty years.


Since this initial reorganization federalism has evolved further and 27 states now comprise the Indian union. Many of the principles, issues and demands which were articulated in the 1950s continue to persist and demands have now been raised to constitute a second states reorganization commission to deal with demands for a dozen distinct campaigns for statehood. Many of these go back to the 1950s when they were left unaddressed e.g. Telangana, Vidharbha.


The project will be the first attempt to historicize the process of state¿s reorganization in post colonial India. It will examine archival sources at the National Archives of India (New Delhi), private papers of important regional leaders and personalities associated with the Commission at the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library (New Delhi), UP state archives in Lucknow, Maharashtra state archives in Bombay and the Andhra Pradesh state archives in Hyderabad. In addition to these sources located in India, I would consult material relating to these years in the Library of Congress, Washington D.C and the US National Archives, Washington.

Publications Top


  • Monographs


    Region, Nation, ‘Heartland’: Uttar Pradesh in India’s Body-Politic, New Delhi & Thousand Oaks, CA, Sage Publications, 2006 [in hardback & paperback editions].


    (co-authored with Tai Yong Tan) The Aftermath of Partition in South Asia, (Routledge Series in the History of Modern Asia 3) New York & London, Routledge, October 2000, hardback edition & paperback edition February 2002.


    Edited Works


    [co-edited with Tai Yong Tan] Partition and Post-Colonial South Asia {London, Routledge, 2008, in 3 volumes under the ‘Routledge Major Works’ series]


    Vol. 1: History Writing, Violence, Borders
    Vol. 2: Gender, Minorities, Memories
    Vol. 3: Identities, Geopolitics, Reconciliation




     ‘Partition of the Indian Subcontinent’ in Gita Dharampal Frick, Rachel Dwyer and Jahanvi Phalkey, edited, Keywords in Modern Indian Studies, New Delhi, Oxford University Press, 2013 forthcoming).


    ‘Beyond the Himalayan Pearl Harbour’, History Today, Vol. 62 Issue 11, September 2012. [essay under the feature ‘History Matters’ on the 50 anniversary of the India-China War of 1962]


    ‘Why Uttar Pradesh Lost its Shine’, Times of India, February 11, 2012.  [op-ed piece by invitation]


    (co-authored with K. Sridharan, R. Mukherji, R. Rai & P. Friedlander) Guide to Teaching and Learning of "A" Level India Studies, Singapore, Curriculum Planning and Development Division, Ministry of Education, 2010. (This is a teaching guide to be used as a resource for the teaching of India Studies in Singapore schools.).


    ‘Regional Disparities in Uttar Pradesh and the Case for Reorganization’, in Venkitesh Ramakrishnan, edited, Uttar Pradesh: The Road Ahead, New Delhi: Academic Foundation in association with Observer Research Foundation, 2009, ed. 143 150.


    "Le Gouvernment Indien Et La Diaspora", in Brij V Lal, Peter Reeves, Rajesh Rai, eds., Encyclopedie de la Diaspora Indienne,  Paris: Les Editions Du Pacifique, 2008, pp. 82 89. 


    "Aryavarta", "Hind", or "Uttar Pradesh": the Postcolonial Naming and Framing of a "Region”,  in Dipesh Chakrabarty, Rochona Majumdar, Andrew Sartori, edited, From the Colonial to the Postcolonial, India and Pakistan in Transition, (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2007).


    ‘Constructing the "Heartland": Uttar Pradesh in India's Body Politic', in Sudha Pai, edited, Political Process in Uttar Pradesh, Identity, Economic Reforms and Governance (New Delhi, Pearson Longman, 2007).

    'In Aid of Civil Power: The Colonial Army in Northern India, c.1919 1942',   Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, Vol. 32, No. 1, 2004, pp. 41 68, Frank Cass Publishers, London, UK.

    Region, Nation, ‘Heartland’: Uttar Pradesh in India’s Body-Politic, New Delhi & Thousand Oaks, CA, Sage Publications, 2006 [in hardback & paperback editions].


    ‘India's New Mantra: The Internet’, Current History, A Journal of Contemporary World Affairs, 100, 645 (April 2001): 162-169.


    Foreshadowing "Quit India": The Congress in Uttar Pradesh 1939-1941’, in Neera Chandhoke, edited, Mapping Histories, Essays Presented to Ravinder Kumar, Anthem Press, London, 2002.


    ‘From displacement to 'development': the East Punjab countryside after partition, 1947-67’ in D A Low and Howard Brasted, edited, Freedom, Trauma and Continuities, Northern India and Independence, New Delhi, Sage Publications, 1998. (Republished by Alta Mira Press, Walnut Creek, CA, 1998)


    ‘Divided Landscapes, Fragmented Identities: East Bengal Refugees and their Rehabilitation in India’, 1947-79’, in in D A Low and Howard Brasted, edited, Freedom, Trauma and Continuities, Northern India and Independence, New Delhi, Sage Publications, 1998. (Republished by Alta Mira Press, Walnut Creek, CA, 1998).


    "‘Capitol landscapes’: the imprint of partition on South Asian capital cities’ Tai Yong Tan and Gyanesh Kudaisya, edited, Partition and Post-Colonial South Asia, Volume 3, London: Routledge, 2008.


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