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

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Social Criticism and Nation-building


The current ruling regime does not feel restrained in repeating the rhetoric that it wants to build a strong India. And, to support such a slogan, it comes up with new slogans that feed into a reign of rhetoric. However, its arbitrary, yet aggressive style of imagining a strong India has led to the development of absolute intolerance to social criticism—that expects the government to accept candidly—of ideological politics that suppresses even discussion on caste as social reality. The question that one needs to ask is: Under what political conditions does the imagination of the nation allow for constructive social criticism? The “emergence of a nation” from the clutches of imperialism and a “nation in the making,” both possess moderating thrust and provide an opportunity to negotiate internal differences. This element of moderation, thus, allows for social criticism and its acceptance through an engagement with those who launch such criticism.

It is interesting to keep in mind that the proponents of “reformist Hinduism” such as the Arya Samajist demonstrated some degree of readiness to tolerate social criticism of the caste system by the victims of casteism. This readiness could be understood in terms of the primary need to achieve social solidarity against imperialism. Thus, the acute need for a nation’s independence foregrounded the urgency to tolerate some degree of social criticism which was considered as legitimate by the Arya Samajist, who, however, retained the legislative power to limit the scope of this social criticism. Such proposals, which involved acceptance of mild criticism and rejection of harsh criticism of Hinduism, are evident in B R Ambedkar’s encounter with Jat Pat Todak Mandal.

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Updated On : 4th Sep, 2021
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