Our third session with author, Dr. Manu Bhagavan, focuses on Chapter 5.
Set against the backdrop of World War II, Indian independence and decolonization, and the Cold War, this “splendid…stunning…hugely engrossing” first-of-its-kind international history, based on seven years of research in twenty archives on three continents, tells the story of India’s quest to build consensus around the framework of “human rights,” to bridge the divisions between East and West, between capitalist and communist, and to create “one world” free of empire, poverty, exploitation, and war. This book is the story of India’s quest to create a common destiny for all people across the world based on the concept of human rights. In the years leading up to its independence from Great Britain, and more than a decade after, in a world torn asunder by unchecked colonial expansions and two world wars, Jawaharlal Nehru had a radical vision: bridging the ideological differences of the East and the West, healing the growing rift between capitalist and communist, and creating ‘One World’ that would be free of empire, exploitation and war. Madame Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit, Nehru’s sister, would lead the fight in and through the United Nations to turn all this into a reality. An electric orator and outstanding diplomat, she travelled across continents speaking in the voice of the oppressed and garnering support for her cause. The aim was to lay the foundation for global governance that would check uncontrolled state power, address the question of minorities and migrant peoples, and put an end to endemic poverty. Mahatma Gandhi’s legacy would go global.
Manu Bhagavan is Professor of History, Human Rights, and Public Policy at Hunter College and the Graduate Center-The City University of New York, where he is also Senior Fellow at the Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies. He is author or editor of seven books, including the critically-acclaimed The Peacemakers (HarperCollins India 2012, Palgrave Macmillan 2013) and India and the Cold War (Penguin India and UNC Press, 2019). His newest book, forthcoming in December 2023 from Penguin/Viking India, is a biography of Madame Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit, one of the most important and celebrated women of the twentieth century. Manu is the recipient of a 2006 fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies and more recently has received Hunter’s 2023 Presidential Award for Excellence in Scholarship. He has been interviewed for several documentaries and was featured in a skit on the Not the White House Correspondent’s Dinner, part of the satirical television program Full Frontal with Samantha Bee. In 2023, he also served as a judge for the PEN Literary Awards in the category of biography. Manu appears regularly in the media to discuss current affairs. Follow @ManuBhagavan on Twitter!