Ahmedabad: A City in the World

by Amrita Shah

Amrita Shah

New India Foundation



It is a theme Shah echoes throughout her slim, 196 page book: that Ahmedabad is a city of accomplices. Indeed, she even starts her book with a poem called Accomplices by the Chinese writer Bei Dao. Throughout her book, she returns to the subject of the 2002 Gujarat riots and to the city’s widespread acceptance of those events.

- The Indian Express

Till 2006, SG Highway marked the westernmost extremity of the city. Then the Sardar Patel Ring Road came up, seven kilometers further west. A 76.3-kilometre road barreling through privately owned acreage and twenty-three villages! An idea fated, one would think, to be mired in endless litigation.

- Mint

The focus on Indian cities have often borne out the truth of Nobel laureate Amartya Sen's insightful observation that when it comes to India the British give the impression that they have authored the country.

- Independent


Ahmedabad: A City in the World (Bloomsbury, 2015) looks at the experience of a highly entrepreneurial society in one of India’s longest surviving cities. Ahmedabad in western India was founded in 1411 by Ahmed Shah of the Gujarat Sultanate. It was well-known as a trading entrepot and a producer of cotton textiles, a reputation it would build on to become the centre of the textile manufacturing industry. Mahatma Gandhi chose Ahmedabad as the base from which to launch himself into the freedom struggle and initiated many of his socio-cultural experiments, including in education (the Gujarat Vidyapith) and labour relations (the Majoor Mahajan), in this city. In the post Independence period however, the city would become better known as a site of endemic communal as well as of other forms of mass violence. The demise of the textile mills saw Ahmedabad remake itself as a centre for chemicals, pharmaceuticals, diamond polishing and medical tourism giving rise to a substantial middle class. The early decades of the present century have seen the city emerge as a showpiece of the socio-economic vision that catapulted Narendra Modi to the prime ministership in 2014. An exploration of this complex and fascinating city reveals the processes underpinning the ethos of contemporary India.

Author Profile

Amrita Shah

Amrita Shah is a journalist and writer. A graduate in English Literature from Elphinstone College, Mumbai, and well known for her pioneering investigations into the Mumbai underworld in the 1980s, she has worked for Imprint and the Time-Life News Service, edited the features magazines Debonair and Elle and has been a columnist and contributing editor with The Indian Express.
She is the author of Hype, Hypocrisy & Television in Urban India (Vikas, 1997), Vikram Sarabhai-A Life (Penguin-Viking, 2007) and Ahmedabad: A City in the World (Bloomsbury, 2015). She has also contributed to The New Companion to the City (Blackwell, 2011).
Apart from the New India Foundation Fellowship, Shah has received the K.K. Birla Fellowship for Journalism, the Fulbright-Nehru Fellowship, the Homi Bhabha Fellowship and a Senior Fellowship in Literature from the Indian Ministry of Culture. She has been a Visiting Fellow at the Henry L. Stimson Center in Washington and has been on a wide range of panels across the world including Changing Behavior and Belief, BMW Foundation Initiative, Emergent Urban Research and Theorization Agendas, World Social Science Forum, Bergen and Hamlet and Succession, and the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin. She is an alumna of the Institute for Public Knowledge, New York University and a Visiting Faculty at the Centre for Contemporary Studies, Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru. She is currently working on a book tracing her ancestor’s journey into Gandhi’s South Africa with research grants from the Indian Council of Historical Research and the Dorabji Tata Trust.