What conclusions can we draw from the histories of the eight states discussed in the preceding chapters? It is evident that they do not cohere into a single ‘grand’ narrative: South Asia and Africa became independent in different geopolitical contexts, and followed different sequences from dependency to sovereign state. The British raj was an empire in itself, with a large measure of devolved government: it generated its own coercive capacity, set its own tariffs and, as a founder member of the United Nations, represented itself in the international system. Britain’s political will to remain the paramount power was exhausted by 1947 and the coercive capacity it could call on to defend imperial strategic interests was much diminished. The economic relationship between the metropolitan and the colonial government had been reversed: the Government of India was now Britain’s largest creditor, thanks to the accumulation of sterling balances that had paid for wartime expenditure on Indian resources and Indian troops deployed overseas. Sovereign power was hurriedly transferred to the political representatives of India and Pakistan before they had decided how government was to be constituted and political order maintained. They inherited legal governing instruments but their constitutional choices were made after, not before independence.
Swipe to navigate through the chapters of this book
Please log in to get access to this content
To get access to this content you need the following product:
- Summary and Conclusions
- Macmillan Education UK
- Sequence number