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

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The Making of Ambedkarite Public Culture

Public culture is a mental and physical space where basic ideas of the self and world view get crystallised. It is the main space to form varied communicative lines. These communicative lines discipline person’s behaviour. Since the Dalit’s ideas about self and consciousness were largely shaped by their everyday experience, Ambedkar thoughtfully evolved the Dalit’s public culture towards conscientising mental and physical space. A number of nodal points in varied communicative lines were generated to cultivate the autonomous Dalit assertive self and emancipatory world view. It produced an atmosphere where social discursive engagements were developed along with Ambedkarite praxis. As Mumbai happens to be the place where Ambedkar conceived, started and developed the key emancipatory movements, the city turned out to be a precursor for the “Ambedkarite public culture.”

Nehru's Faith

When religion is being held up as a unique source of faith, we need to remind ourselves that there are other firm foundations upon which we can build moral and ethical projects, in both private and public life. If secularism, as we have recently been told, has multiple meanings, so too does faith. In our own recent history, there is perhaps no better practical instance of the effort to find a non-religious bedrock for morality than that of Nehru himself. Today, as we survey the shattered nationalisms of the Balkans, as we feel collapsing about us the ruins of Arab nationalism, as we see the precipice on which nations like Indonesia balance, it is more important than ever to see the force of what Nehru understood. It is exactly religion's persistence, its fulsome presence as we stumble into the new century that, far from undermining or disproving the force of Nehru's views on the subject, exactly underline their relevance and resonance for us today. On this particular point, he just was right.

Teaching of History and Nation-Building

Prejudice and Pride: School Histories of the Freedom Struggle in India and Pakistan by Krishna Kumar; Viking, New Delhi, 2001; pp 274, Rs 395.

Honour, Gender and the Legend of Meera Bai

The 'Rajput' period in Indian history represents that interlude which evolved beliefs and practices that endowed a distinctive character to female honour - which linked the purity and honour of the clan itself with women's sexuality. The story of Meera Bai presents in a way the most flagrant violation of this Rajput notion of dishonour. This essay probes at the contradictions that Meera Bai embodies. Hers was a rebellion against conventional restrictive norms that sought to regulate and control women's lives, and Meera was condemned by feudal society for such acts of deviation, yet Meera still remains honoured and revered and till date survives in the cultural consciousness of the people.

Of Religious Traditions

Charisma and Canon: Essays on the Religious History of the Indian Subcontinent edited by Vasudha Dalmia, Angelika Malinar and Martin Christof; Oxford University Press, Delhi, 2001; pp x + 461; Rs 650.

Pilgrim's Progress

The Unknown Hsuan-tsang edited by D Devahuti; Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 2001; pp xxix + 185, Rs 495.

Understanding Islam and Its Influences

Essays on Islam and Indian History by Richard M Eaton, Oxford University Press, 2000, Delhi, Rs 595, pp x+275.
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