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

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BJP and the Ethnic Constitution of Nation

The Saffron Wave: Democracy and Hindu Nationalism in Modern India by Thomas Blom Hansen; Oxford University Press, Delhi, 1991; pp 293, Rs 495.

Thomas Blom Hansen’s book, The Saffron Wave: Democracy and Hindu Nationalism in Modern India is a welcome addition to the growing literature on Hindu nationalism in India. The main story of the book is about the growth of Hindu nationalism in the last decade of 20th century as a result of complex interplay of the social and political processes that have been generated by the expansion of democracy. Hansen has succeeded in a large measure in presenting his narrative in a coherent manner.

One of the important methodological achievements of Hansen is his ability to deftly incorporate and integrate his local experiences from field work in Maharashtra in his main narrative. He has succeeded in weaving together and relating to each other, both the themes in a satisfactory manner. Hansen’s theoretical perspective is postmodern and he has devoted a lot of space to discuss main features of post-modern perspective of politics. He could have shortened this discussion. One of the limitations of this approach is that you successfully grasp ideological and cultural aspects of the story but neglect some important aspects of political economy. Hence, Hansen is not in a position to analyse class basis of the saffron wave and the opportunistic role played by the middle classes as well as capitalist class in India. Hansen has not touched this aspect.

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