Torn between the nation and the world: D. F. Karaka and Indian journalism in the Second World War

Rotem Geva*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Focusing on wartime journalism and nonfiction, this article analyses how nationalist Indians made sense of the war's political and moral causes and goals, and how such understandings shaped the war's longer historical resonance in India. The article centres on the wartime publications of the writer and journalist Dosabhai Framji Karaka, juxtaposing them with those of his colleagues in the nationalist newspaper, the Bombay Chronicle. Tracing the unfolding of the war through Karaka's eyes, the article delineates the acute dilemma that the Second World War posed for nationalist Indians, between the struggle for liberation from colonial rule and the global struggle against fascism. It suggests that contemporaries perceived this dilemma as a choice between nationalism and internationalism. The war dealt a severe blow to the more fluid and capacious political imagination of interwar leftist internationalism, espoused by Jawaharlal Nehru and his followers. While substantial scholarly attention has been paid to the interwar period, this article puts a spotlight on the war, especially the pivotal year of 1942, as a distinct period that should be understood on its own historical terms - terms specific to war, with the urgency that arose from horrendous violence, unpredictable outcomes of battles on multiple fronts, and existential threats to nations and the global order. Such unprecedented pressures and constraints bifurcated the range of possibilities and forced historical actors to make difficult choices. The article shows how, during 1942, Karaka's position parted ways with that of his peers, who more steadfastly represented the Congress stance.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1459-1494
Number of pages36
JournalModern Asian Studies
Issue number5
StatePublished - 13 Sep 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s), 2023. Published by Cambridge University Press.


  • Bombay Chronicle
  • Dosabhai Framji Karaka
  • Jawaharlal Nehru
  • Second World War
  • internationalism


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