Making the New Indian Citizen in Times of the Jawan (Soldier) and the Kisan (Farmer), 1962–1965
This article engages with the shaping of the “New Man” figure in independent India and how this image was morphed and re-shaped by conditions of war and food shortages. It traces the category of the ideal citizen of a “New India”, as expounded during the term of Jawaharlal Nehru, independent India’s first Prime Minister. During the interim years between two wars with China and Pakistan respectively (1962–1965), and especially in times of acute food grain shortages in several federal states, the second Prime Minister, Lal Bahadur Shastri, raised the slogan Jai Jawan! Jai Kisan (Victory to the Soldier! Victory to the Farmer!), hailing both as iconic heroes of the nation. During this time, all other nation-building registers merged into the overarching categories of defence and development. How did the mood of insecurity and the nervousness of the state produce discourses of vigilance and sacrifice? The article traces the transformations in the trope of the ideal citizen, the revered space accorded to farmers as men who supplanted the nation’s granaries and soldiers as men who defended its borders, and, finally, how the nonfarmers and non-soldiers were also called upon to become the “New Men” of a nation in crisis. The last section analyses images from two English-language weekly newspaper magazines – Link and New India to shed light on the state’s vision of the trope of the “New Man” and how it was inscribed with the qualities of self-sacrifice, nationalism, vigilance, preparedness and work for the nation.