This introductory chapter examines India and China and the ways in which they have been transformed by Western imperial modernity. The onset of modernity is said to be located in the nineteenth century and is characterized politically by the emergence of the nation-state, economically by industrialization, and ideologically by an emphasis on progress and liberation. The nation-form itself is a global form that cannot be understood as the product of one particular society. It is the dominant societal form today, and India and China have gradually developed into nation-states. For this reason, one can compare India and China at the level of nation-states, although these societies are internally immensely differentiated and the particular nation-form they have taken is historically contingent.
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