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State before Partition: India’s Interim Government under Wavell

This paper is a study of the Interim Government in British India, formed during the penultimate viceroyalty of Archibald Wavell, from September 1946 to March 1947. It tries to throw light on major and minor personalities and micro and macro processes at work in this improbable interlude and, thus, probes an overshadowed ministerial and bureaucratic set-up in the lead-up to Partition. This understudied set-up constituted yet another compelling ‘space before Partition’ which would continue to affect the Indian state after Partition. Simultaneously, the paper seeks to complicate the teleology and inevitability of Partition by showing this interim arrangement at work, which belied its name. Bringing together official texts and the personal interpretations of many participants, it approaches the period as liminal, albeit one with limitless possibilities at this juncture, of which what followed in 1947 was but one.

Rakesh Ankit
South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies