New Delhi was purpose-built to trumpet the supremacy of the British Raj and inaugurated in 1931. Instead it came to represent a fading imperial dream in the two decades that followed. In the heyday of the British Raj, strict social and racial ...
and racial hierarchies governed the social life of the city’s ruling elites. And the frivolity of New Delhi’s high society was kept in check by a faithful adherence to etiquette and protocol in everyday life. For example, the sixteen-button glove at a formal viceregal dinner party was of great importance as a means of maintaining the authority of the Raj. But the 1930s and 1940s were a period of transition. The political shifts associated with India’s journey to self-government echoed in the social codes of conduct adopted by the Indian elites of New Delhi, and undermining the Raj’s pomp became a legitimate means of challenging its authority.
Closely examining the role of social ritual, interaction and behaviour in the shaping of the city and its elite groups, Glittering Decades tells the story of New Delhi and its privileged inhabitants between 1931 and 1952.