Congratulations to Kellogg Faculty Fellow Nikhil Menon, assistant professor in the Department of History, whose book Planning Democracy: Modern India's Quest for Development was published last month by Cambridge University Press.
Prior to publication, the book was awarded the Joseph W. Elder Prize in the Indian Social Sciences in 2020, for the best unpublished book on an Indian subject. The prize was awarded by an inter-disciplinary panel of the American Institute for Indian Studies.
Planning Democracy explores how, as a route to independence prosperity, India fused Soviet-inspired economic management and Western-style liberal democracy at a time when they were widely considered fundamentally contradictory. Menon traces how planning built India's knowledge infrastructure and data capacities, while also shaping the nature of its democracy. He analyses the challenges inherent in harmonizing technocratic methods with democratic mandates and shows how planning was the language through which the government's aspirations for democratic state-building were expressed. Situating India within international debates about economic policy and Cold War ideology, Menon reveals how India walked a tightrope between capitalism and communism, which heightened the drama of its development on the global stage.
"Through richly researched analysis, Menon skillfully brings to life the multi-dimensional world of planning in early independent India," writes Eleanor Newbigin (SOAS, University of London) in her review of the book. "Exploring how planning – as process and as political imaginary – has reshaped state and society, this book offers critical historical insight into events and debates that continue to shape our world today."