“Elites and Aristocracy in Colonial and Post-colonial Sri Lanka” attempts to answer two major questions: First, what is an “elite” and how can we define one? Concentrating on aristocracy and with reference to Georg Simmel, I will describe forms of social and cultural self-aggrandis-ement and self-construction, which have served many elites as a model and ideal type for emula-tion and further development.
India’s experiment in mass democratization has been explained and legitimized with the help of a persuasive model: the ideal-type concept of the “dominant one-party system”. Continuously elaborated and adjusted, it has served to analyze India’s political evolution and idealize its peculiar variant of secularism, federalism and (Congress-dominated) party politics. In addition, it has upheld the Congress Party’s ideology and programme.
The prehistory of the Durand Line is complicated, involving new forms of tribal al-legiance-building, tribal and localised state-building and, finally, regional empire-building. A new tribal as well as mercantile religion and civilisation, Islam, gave rise to new patterns of trade and a new crossroads and commercial centre: Kalat. With the decline of the Mughals a Kalat state based on a local dynasty and two tribal federations emerged as a semi-independent state. The British Empire ultimately strengthened and enlarged, balanced and controlled this tribal and regional state.