War over Words: Censorship in India, 1930-1960

War over Words: Censorship in India, 1930-1960
Censorship has been a universal phenomenon through history. However, its rationale and implementation have varied, and public reaction to it has differed across societies and times. War over Words recovers, narrates, and interrogates the history of censorship of publications in India over three crucial decades—encompassing the Gandhian anti-colonial movement, the Second World War, Partition, and the early years of Independent India. In doing so, it examines state policy and practice, as also its subversion, in a tumultuous period of transition from colonial to self-rule in India. Populated with an array of powerful and powerless individuals, the story of Indians grappling with free speech and (in)tolerance is a fascinating one, and deserves to be widely known.
Drawing upon a range of sources as diverse as the banned material itself, legal judgements, legislative debates, memoirs and biographies, contemporary newspaper reports and letters to editors, government papers and reports, first-person accounts, and empirical and theoretical works by scholars of censorship across the world, War over Words focuses attention both on censors as well as the censored. It explores the diverse mechanisms and motivations for censorship and its role in shaping the modern Indian republic.
This book will help readers engage with contemporary debates over free speech and hate speech, illustrate historical trends that change—and those that don’t—and enable them to appreciate how the past inevitably informs the present.


Devika Sethi


Cambridge University Press






Social Sciences


National politics