Online Via Zoom
Though the princely states covered forty per cent of the Indian subcontinent and governed twenty-five per cent of its population, they have traditionally been portrayed as petty despots, consumed by lust and luxury – bejewelled parasites, who cared more for elephants and palaces than for schools and public works. The British propagated the myth that brown royalty needed to be ‘enlightened’. Many Indians, too, bought into the stereotype, viewing the princes as imperial stooges. Even today, the princes are either remembered with frothy nostalgia or dismissed as greedy fools.
Did the princely states play any role in the making of contemporary India? Were they puppets in the hands of the British? Did the princely states work towards a constitutional mode of governance based on laws and not just royal whimsy? What was their role in the emergence of nationalism in late-Victorian India?
Our speaker, author of False Allies and other books on this topic, will explore the vanished world of princely India. He will explore how India’s princely states and their rulers negotiated their political identities and ideas of kingship, both while facing pressures from the British Raj, as well as while resisting it.
Historian Manu Pillai is an eminent columnist and a Sahitya Akademi Yuva Puraskar winner. He has written the award-winning The Ivory Throne: Chronicles of the House of Travancore, Rebel Sultans: The Deccan from Khilji to Shivaji, The Courtesan, the Mahatma and the Italian Brahmin: Tales from Indian History, and most recently, False Allies: India’s Maharajahs in the Age of Ravi Varma.
Tana Trivedi is a faculty of Communication and Business History at Ahmedabad University since May 2015. A graduate and postgraduate in English Literature from St. Xavier's College, Ahmedabad, she completed her M.Litt. in Postcolonial Diaspora from University of Stirling, UK. She completed her PhD in contemporary Indo-Fijian poetry in 2020 from Christ University, Bangalore. She also holds a Diploma in Human Resources Management from Ahmedabad Management Association. Prior to joining Ahmedabad University, she worked as full-time faculty with the Department of English and Media Studies, Christ University, Bangalore for five years. She has also taught part time at St. Joseph's College, Bangalore, and the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. She has designed and taught courses such as Business History, Science Journalism, Diaspora Studies, Gender Studies, Postcolonial Studies, British Literature, World Literature, and Indian Writing in English. She also specializes in designing and delivering courses in Business History, Academic Writing, and Spoken Business Communication. Her research interests are in the areas of Diaspora studies, Business History, Postcolonial Studies, and Gender Studies.