Spectacle of Globality
To speak of post-1991 India is to speak of the great transformation that has seemingly ruptured the barriers between the first and third worlds. India is said to have ‘risen’ and ‘emerged’ from the ranks of the third world nations to become an equal player in the age of globalization – its rise underpinned by a technology driven, comparatively low wage and high skilled labor economy. The signs of this ‘coming of age’ are visible not only in the transforming urban surfaces and skylines in the rapidly expanding megacities, but also the ways in which subjectivity is now earned through a conspicuous performance of entrepreneurship and consumption.
As India joins the 21st C ‘flat world’ of reformed nations, the focus is increasingly on becoming ‘world-class’ and to acquire signs of globality that spectacularly showcase its ‘grown up’ self upon a global stage. The signals of India’s exit from the third world appear in the everyday and the event: from mundane aspects of middle class life – consumption of branded commodities, new forms of leisure and entertainment, and a tele-connected being – to more spectacular displays of Indian-ness in globally framed cultural extravaganzas, rising stock market indexes, and the dramatic shift from being a development aid recipient to aid donor.
In short, we can witness the fast paced transition from colonial modernity to postcolonial globality where shifting meanings and new formations of identity, subjectivity, representation and history are yet to be fully unpacked and understood. The spectacle of India’s makeover as a global power calls for a rethinking of theoretical debates and discourses of belonging, citizenship, national identity, popular politics and the contested place of its colonial past in this present moment of globality. The overall enquiry in this workshop is to understand the kind of social-political processes at work in shaping India as a global power.