1st Edition

V.S. Srinivasa Sastri A Liberal Life

By Vineet Thakur Copyright 2023
    146 Pages
    by Routledge India

    146 Pages
    by Routledge India

    This book explores the Indian tradition of liberalism through a critical intellectual biography of Valangaiman Sankaranarayana Srinivasa Sastri (1869–1946). A notable politician, diplomat and educationist in colonial India, Sastri was a founding member of the National Liberal Federation and was one of the leading liberals — often dismissed as ‘a body of sycophants and self-seekers’ — of the post-1918 period of Indian pre-independence history. Through Sastri, the book shines a light on the contributions of liberals in Indian political history and challenges the convenient binaries in Indian historiography.


    Examining the role that liberals like Sastri played in bridging the gap between the officials and the nationalists, it traces the practice of liberal politics in the post-1918 period of Indian nationalist struggle and the broader contours of Indian liberalism. Accessible, comprehensive and scholarly, this book will be of great interest to scholars and researchers of Indian history, especially the nationalist movement, political thought, and South Asian studies.

    1. Introduction 2. The Making of a Liberal 3. The Politics of Reforms 4. An Indian Envoy in the Commonwealth 5.  Dominion or Independence 6. Civility: ‘A Charity that Never Fails’ 7. In the Shadow of Rama 8. Conclusion


    Vineet Thakur is a university lecturer at Leiden University, Netherlands. He studied at JNU (New Delhi) and has previously worked at Ambedkar University (Delhi), University of Johannesburg and SOAS London. He was a fellow at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study, Amsterdam, and Smuts Vesting Fellow at Cambridge University. He is the author of India’s First Diplomat: V.S. Srinivasa Sastri and the Making of Liberal Internationalism (2021); The Imperial Discipline: Race and the Founding of International Relations (with Alexander Davis and Peter Vale); South Africa, Race and the Making of International Relations (2020—with Peter Vale, and winner of the Francesco Guicciardini Prize for Best Book in Historical International Relations); Postscripts on Independence: Foreign Policy Discourses in India and South Africa (2018) and Jan Smuts and the Indian Question (2017).

    "After his path-breaking book on V.S. Srinivasa Sastri’s diplomat career, between these new covers Vineet Thakur brings the subject home. Weaving historical biography with political thought, he has written an impressive account of the life – and the politics – of a near-forgotten liberal... another important exploration of liberalism's global lives."

    Peter Vale, Senior Research Fellow, Centre for the Advancement of Scholarship, University of Pretoria, South Africa

    "This is a short, sharp and eloquent introduction to the politics and thought of Srinivasa Sastri. It will rescue from oblivion a fascinating and forceful figure in Indian history. In doing so it also sheds light on the dilemmas of Indian Liberalism, and its complicated relationship to Congress."

    Pratap Bhanu Mehta