ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Politics of Memorialising Violent Memories

Violence and the Burden of Memory: Remembrance and Erasure in Sinhala Consciousness by Sasanka Perera, New Delhi: Orient Blackswan, 2016; pp xvii +322, 745.


Can India's Patriotism Be Built on Accepting Differences?

There are many avatars of nationalism premised on very different understandings of “the idea of India.” This demands a patriotism premised on an inclusive love of all our peoples, a commitment to their integral welfare, and faith in an idea of India with its multicultural, pluri-religious society as less a nation state than a multi-nation-state in the making. The jury is still out on whether this will be a failed experiment or a prophetic sign of the future for a world still struggling to cope with diversity, not quite able to accept the different “other” and the legitimacy of the difference.

Dialogue as Pedagogy

Most Asians live in several different centuries simultaneously in an intriguing mosaic. Such an existence entails possibilities for complementarities and exchange, but also real dangers of misunderstanding and conflict. This calls for a threefold dialogue—with the poor, with cultures, and with religions—that must be defined in terms of a liberating, enriching, and transformational promise. Such a dialogue must be both inclusively Asian and open to the world, and universally global and concretely local. This pedagogic process must address the Asian situation characterised by poverty, cultural diversity and popular religiosity.

Gandhi: Turning the Search Light Inwards

Mahatma Gandhi: Nonviolent Power in Action by Dennis Dalton; New York: Columbia University Press, 2012; pp xxiv + 311, $27.5 (paperback).

Interrogating the Academy

The challenge is to become organic intellectuals. For middle-class academics and activists, who are alienated from the grass-roots people in the field, this is a difficult and delicate task. An organic intellectual is someone who can catalyse and articulate the experience of the people, voice their knowledge, echo their wisdom, and make them present in places where they are not heard or acknowledged.

Rehabilitating Riot Victims

Communal Violence, Forced Migration and the State: Gujarat since 2002 by Sanjeevini Badigar Lokhande; New Delhi: Cambridge University Press, 2015;pp xii + 215, price not indicated.

Democracy and Violence in India

India: Democracy and Violence edited by Samir Kumar Das; OUP, 2015; pp i-viii+258, 995.

The Last and the Lost

In society, art is in the domain of culture; equity is in that of structure. Any holistic transformation of a society must impact both these domains.

'Understandings of Violence'

The Weight of Violence: Religion, Language, Politics edited by Saitya Brata Das and Soumyabrata Choudhury, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2015; pp xxi + 271, Rs 895.

Secularism in a Pluri-Religious Society

The idea of secularism as expressed in our Constitution and as articulated over the years through the political process is embedded in the concepts of equality and democracy rather than in the Western concept of secularism which denies religion any space in the public sphere. This secularism, admittedly, is a peculiar Indian invention. But it is one necessitated by the historical conditions of Indian society in which a modern democratic state is being introduced into a traditional and religious society by our national leadership and our Constitution makers at the time of independence. It demands an affirmation of religious freedom against religious oppression, of religious tolerance against religious chauvinism. What this calls for is an open-ended but value-committed dialogue between believers of various faiths and followers of different traditions in an "heretical response" to our present challenges, or in other words, in a search for collective alternatives to modernity and secularisation. Neither the "positive secularism" of the Hindu right, nor the Nehruvian version of the liberal left, nor the anti-secularism of the anti-modernist are able to provide an adequate basis for such a quest in the changing socio-religious situation of our times. Rather we need to recapture the inspiration of our freedom struggle as expressed in the vision of our Constitution.

Ghar Wapsi: Political Agenda, Religious Garb

An appropriate response is not to curtail legitimate civil liberties or democratic freedoms, for this could have even more dangerous political and social consequences in areas of civil liberties and democratic rights, but rather to work towards better inter-religious understanding and dialogue. Those opposed to religious conversions also need to interrogate themselves. Why is it that the oppression or wretchedness of would-be converts merits little attention, except in the event of their changing religious allegiance?

Ordinary Humans, Extraordinary Inhumanity

Ordinary People, Extraordinary Violence: Naxalites and Hindu Extremists in India by Chitralekha (London, New York, New Delhi: Routledge, Taylor and Francis), 2013; pp xxi + 326, Rs 795.


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