The Crisis of Secularism in India

The Crisis of Secularism in India

By: Rajeswari Sunder Rajan (editor), Anuradha Dingwaney Needham (editor)Paperback

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While secularism has been integral to India's democracy for more than fifty years, its uses and limits are now being debated anew. Signs of a crisis in the relations between state, society, and religion include the violence directed against Muslims in Gujarat in 2002 and the precarious situation of India's minority religious groups more generally; the existence of personal laws that vary by religious community; the affiliation of political parties with fundamentalist religious organizations; and the rallying of a significant proportion of the diasporic Hindu community behind a resurgent nationalist Hinduism. There is a broad consensus that a crisis of secularism exists, but whether the state can resolve conflicts and ease tensions or is itself part of the problem is a matter of vigorous political and intellectual debate. In this timely, nuanced collection, twenty leading Indian cultural theorists assess the contradictory ideals, policies, and practices of secularism in India. Scholars of history, anthropology, religion, politics, law, philosophy, and media studies take on a broad range of concerns. Some consider the history of secularism in India; others explore theoretical issues such as the relationship between secularism and democracy or the shortcomings of the categories "majority" and "minority." Contributors examine how the debates about secularism play out in schools, the media, and the popular cinema. And they address two of the most politically charged sites of crisis: personal law and the right to practice and encourage religious conversion. Together the essays inject insightful analysis into the fraught controversy about the shortcomings and uncertain future of secularism in the world today. Contributors. Flavia Agnes, Upendra Baxi, Shyam Benegal, Akeel Bilgrami, Partha Chatterjee, V. Geetha, Sunil Khilnani, Nivedita Menon, Ashis Nandy, Anuradha Dingwaney Needham, Gyanendra Pandey, Gyan Prakash, Arvind Rajagopal, Paula Richman, Sumit Sarkar, Dwaipayan Sen, Rajeswari Sunder Rajan, Shabnum Tejani, Romila Thapar, Ravi S. Vasudevan, Gauri Viswanathan

About Author

Anuradha Dingwaney Needham is Donald R. Longman Professor of English at Oberlin College. She is the author of Using the Master's Tools: Resistance and the Literature of the African and South Asian Diasporas. Rajeswari Sunder Rajan is Distinguished Visiting Global Professor in the Department of English at New York University. Her books include The Scandal of the State: Women, Law and Citizenship in India, also published by Duke University Press. Rajeswari Sunder Rajan is Distinguished Visiting Global Professor in the Department of English at New York University. Her books include The Scandal of the State: Women, Law and Citizenship in India, also published by Duke University Press.


Preface vii Acknowledgments xi Introduction / Rajeswari Sunder Rajan and Anuradha Dingwaney Needham 1 I. Secularism's Historical Background Reflections on the Category of Secularism in India: Gandhi, Ambedkar, and the Ethics of Communal Representation, c. 1931 / Shabnum Tejani 45 A View from the South: Ramasami's Public Critique of Religion / Paula Richman and V. Geetha 66 Nehru's Faith / Sunil Khilnani 89 II. Secularism and Democracy Closing the Debate on Secularism: A Personal Statement / Ashis Nandy 107 Living with Secularism / Nivedita Menon 118 The Contradictions of Secularism / Partha Chatterjee 141 Secular Nationalism, Hindutva, and the Minority / Gyan Prakash 177 III. Sites of Secularism: Education, Media, and Cinema Secularism, History, and the Contemporary Politics in India / Romila Thapar 191 The Gujarat Experiment and Hindu National Realism: Lessons from Secularism / Arvind Rajagopal 208 Secularism and Popular Indian Cinema / Shyam Benegal 225 Neither State nor Faith: The Transcendental Significance of the Cinema / Ravi S. Vasudevan 239 IV. Secularism and Personal Law Siting Secularism in the Uniform Civil Code: A "Riddle Wrapped Inside an Enigma"? / Upendra Baxi 267 The Supreme Court, the Media, and the Uniform Civil Code Debate in India / Flavia Agnes 294 Secularism and the Very Concept of Law / Akeel Bilgrami 316 V. Conversion Literacy and Conversion in the Discourse of Hindu Nationalism / Gauri Viswanathan 333 Christian Conversions, Hindutva, and Secularism / Sumit Sarkar 356 Appendix: Chronology of the Career of Secularism in India / Dwaipayan Sen 369 Works Cited 373 Contributors 397 Index 401

Product Details

  • ISBN13: 9780822338468
  • Format: Paperback
  • Number Of Pages: 432
  • ID: 9780822338468
  • ISBN10: 0822338467

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