I have thought about and written parts of this book over the last couple of years, but put it together in a draft form during my Cambridge sojourn in 2003. Without the support of Dr Gordon Johnson, the President of Wolfson College, Cambridge, it would not have been possible. I am thankful to Professor Partha Chatterjee for having supported the project since it was mooted. Despite his teaching and other commitments at Harvard, Sugato was always very helpful during the preparation of this book. My children - Urna and Pablo - always provided emotional resources by shifting my attention away when I was stuck while articulating my thoughts. By descending at regular intervals, my best critic made me realise the importance of a family ambience in creativity. It would not be improper to record my appreciation for my mother, who managed the children when I was struggling to meet the dateline. I am grateful to Rajinder, who was always available when needed. I remember Bhuwan, who was equally helpful. I appreciate Prakash for his support. My gratitude goes to Ashok and Minu for their help in making my campus life most interesting and memorable. I am indebted to Mamatadi and Piklu for having made my stay in London during the preparation of this book most comfortable and exciting.
Some of the ideas in this book were presented in seminars in different parts of the globe. I am thankful to those who helped in streamlining my arguments and thoughts on such a complex subject as the formation of nation in a transitional society. I gratefully acknowledge the support given by the publishers of my articles on related themes in Modern Asian Studies (Cambridge 23, 3, 1998), Indian Economic and Social History Review (Sage 39, 4, 2003) and South Asia (South Asian Studies, Australia 26, 2, 2003).