India's national governing elite during the postindependence period has its origins in the development of a distinctive political class prior to independence, a class formed in civil disobedience movements and the open umbrella that the Indian National Congress provided as well as in the legislative institutions that were successively infused with autonomous powers under the regimes created by the Government of India Acts of 1919 and 1935. 1 From 1920 to the achievement of independence in 1947, under these constitutional formats, there were held seven elections to provincial legislative bodies as well as to the central legislature, though the latter did not enjoy the powers and autonomy of the former. The provincial elections of 1937 in particular made evident the existence of a class of Indians devoted to politics as a vocation. This class was defined by shared commitment to two objectives: the forging of an Indian political community and the achievement of freedom for it, and the reform of representative institutions and the exercise of self-governance through them. It was composed of representatives from various social groups, was engaged with executive authority in both local and regional arenas, and was linked by the Congress party, hierarchically within, corporatively without. 2