ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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India's Constitutional Historian

Granville Austin (1927-2014)

A tribute to the American scholar Granville Austin who wrote two landmark books on the making and then working of the Constitution of India.

The author is grateful to Hilary Mac Austin, Mike Gee, R Sudarshan, Arun Thiruvengadam, and V Venkatesan for their assistance. All errors are his, and this article is written in his personal capacity.

In the summer of 1987, Nancy Austin answered a knock on her front door. Her visitor politely introduced himself as R Sudarshan. He had come all the way from Delhi where he worked for the Ford Foundation. He had spent the past three years tracking down Nancy’s husband, Granville. He seemed thrilled that his search was finally over. Red, as Granville Austin liked to be called, was at home in Washington DC.

In the couple’s living room, Sudarshan explained why he had come. He asked Austin if he would be willing to return to his alma mater, St Anthony’s College of the University of Oxford. Austin had obtained a doctorate there in the 1960s. In its neo-Gothic library, he had completed his first book, The Indian Constitution: Cornerstone of A Nation. He had spent the early 1960s in India researching it. Two decades later, Sudarshan wanted him to do a sequel. Funding would be available from the Ford Foundation. The Austins were genuinely surprised by Sudarshan’s offer. Yet, as the evening wore on, the proposal intrigued and excited them. Before he took their leave, Sudarshan and the Austins toasted their new project.1

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