A discussion of how the large, amorphous and impersonal Indian state has affected the everyday lives of its citizens since Independence in 1947. It focuses on how the multiple nature of psychological identity in the sub-continent - personal, spiritual, sexual and political - was affected by the imposition of a stridently secular ethos by the country's political, educational and cultural elites. This, argues Ashis Nandy, explains much of the dislocation evident in contemporary Indian society, a by-product of which has been a renewed search for certainty manifested in the appeal of Hindu and Islamic "fundamentalisms". Further dislocation is being wrought by the harsh introduction of India to the global economy, with its concomitant creation of new ideals of prosperity and social and personal "development" which are often at variance with traditional precepts.
Such dislocation has also precipitated a crisis in how Indians view their past and their present (the "Time Warps" of the book's title), the more so in a society where unhistoricised pasts - myths, legends, epics and unofficial memories - predominate and where clues to the future lie scattered in diverse pasts created by human ingenuity. India retains its knowledge that refuses to die - comprising non-conventional systems of healing, non-formal modes of education, deviant theories of ethnic or communal violence and amity, and so on. Many who live with these alternatives are in constant dialogue with their pasts, not defensively, but as a way of accessing their own tacit knowledge. This volume is a plea for the retention of indigenous systems of knowledge and experience in the face of the juggernaut of globalization and its drive for cultural and economic homogeneity.
Ashis Nandy, a clinical psychologist turned political scientist, is a renowned thinker on contemporary society. Among his dozen or so books, The Intimate Enemy is best known, having been reissued by OUP in its eighteenth edition. He is Director of the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, New Delhi.
Contending stories in the culture of Indian politics - traditions and the future of democracy; democratic culture and images of the state; the politics of secularism and the recovery of religious tolerance; coping with the politics of faiths and cultures; a report on the present state of health of the gods and goddesses in South Asia; time travel to a possible self - searching for an alternative cosmopolitanism; violence and creativity in the late-20th century.