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The undisciplined youth and a moral panic in independent India, circa 1947-1964

Wilkinson, Tom (2022) The undisciplined youth and a moral panic in independent India, circa 1947-1964. Journal of Historical Sociology, 35 (4). pp. 507-526. ISSN 0952-1909

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Identification Number: 10.1111/johs.12387


The undisciplined youth is one figure that is key to understanding the 1950s and 1960s in India. Politicians, officials, academics, youth leaders, and journalists developed and spread a discourse that imagined the collective behaviour of Indian youths as falling well below adult expectations of them in independent India. The imagery of the youth lacking in discipline was tied up with cycles of student unrest and the idea that the methods of protest used during the pre-independence period had wrongly continued into the post-independence period, but this discursive formation was often extended to include all Indian youths and it became translated into a long-term anxiety about the future of the newly established nation-state. These tropes about the undisciplined Indian youth became a symbol of the country's unresolved future. Unless the crisis of youth could be remedied, the narrative went, then the potentiality of Indian independence and its first generation of citizens could never be realised. This discourse took on a novel and distinctive shape during the initial years following Indian independence in 1947, it crystallised during the early 1950s, and there was a continued build-up of public concern that lasted throughout the 1960s.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2022 The Author.
Divisions: International History
Subjects: D History General and Old World
Date Deposited: 09 Nov 2022 11:33
Last Modified: 14 Jun 2024 21:30

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