Swadeshi Capitalism in colonial Bombay

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This article examines economic nationalism in India, specifically the role of capitalists in late colonial Bombay. It shows how swadeshi was the fulcrum that supported the expressions of nationalism and capitalism. The notion that Indian capital needed to be used for the benefit of Indian nationals became established as nationalist thought by the 1930s. Such swadeshi capitalism - Indian capital for Indian industries - recasts the notion of swadeshi as a broader, more sophisticated cultural response to colonialism and globalization. As capitalism transitioned from mercantile activities to capital-hungry industrialization, nationalism was itself reframed from being anti-colonial in 1905 to being anti-globalization by the 1950s. Swadeshi capitalism helped to overlay a radical, grittier form of economic nationalism over the intellectually driven version of the nineteenth century. Swadeshi, as a form of economic patriotism, can be distinguished from similar expressions of nationalism within the British empire and dominions. This article is an effort to decolonize the narratives of modern capitalism by shifting the focus away from the global West. It will appeal to readers interested in South Asian history, and those interested in cultural responses to globalization, the contested nature of economic nationalism, and histories of capitalism in the global South.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1009 - 1034
Number of pages26
JournalHistorical Journal -London- Cambridge University Press-
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 14 Oct 2020


  • Economic nationalism
  • Nationalism
  • Colonialism


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