9780312426026

The Argumentative Indian Writings on Indian History, Culture and Identity

by
  • ISBN13:

    9780312426026

  • ISBN10:

    031242602X

  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 9/5/2006
  • Publisher: Picador

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Summary

In sixteen linked essays, Nobel Prize--winning economist Amartya Sen discusses India's intellectual and political heritage and how its argumentative tradition is vital for the success of its democracy and secular politics.The Argumentative Indianis "a bracing sweep through aspects of Indian history and culture, and a tempered analysis of the highly charged disputes surrounding these subjects--the nature of Hindu traditions, Indian identity, the country's huge social and economic disparities, and its current place in the world" (Sunil Khilnani,Financial Times,U.K.). Amartya Senis Lamont University Professor at Harvard. He won the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1998 and was Master of Trinity College, Cambridge, 1998-2004. His most recent books areDevelopment as Freedom andRationality and Freedom. His books have been translated into thirty languages. AWashington Post Book WorldBest Book of the Year InThe Argumentative Indian, Amartya Sen draws on a lifetime study of his country's history and culture to suggest the ways we must understand India today in the light of its rich, long argumentative tradition. The millennia-old texts and interpretations of Hindu, Buddhist, Jain, Muslim, agnostic, and atheistic Indian thought demonstrate, Sen reminds us, ancient and well-respected rules for conducting debates and disputations, and for appreciating not only the richness of India's diversity but its need for toleration. Though Westerners have often perceived India as a place of endless spirituality and unreasoning mysticism, he underlines its long tradition of skepticism and reasoning, not to mention its secular contributions to mathematics, astronomy, linguistics, medicine, and political economy. Sen discusses many aspects of India's rich intellectual and political heritage, including philosophies of governance from Kautilya's and Ashoka's in the fourth and third centuries BCE to Akbar's in the 1590s; the history and continuing relevance of India's relations with China more than a millennium ago; its old and well-organized calendars; the films of Satyajit Ray and the debates between Gandhi and the visionary poet Tagore about India's past, present, and future. The success of India's democracy and defense of its secular politics depend, Sen argues, on understanding and using this rich argumentative tradition. It is also essential to removing the inequalities (whether of caste, gender, class, or community) that mar Indian life, to stabilizing the now precarious conditions of a nuclear-armed subcontinent, and to correcting what Sen calls the politics of deprivation. His book concludes with his meditations on pluralism, on dialogue and dialectics in the pursuit of social justice, and on the nature of the Indian identity. "[A] profoundly wise and engaging collection of essays . . . While the pieces inThe Argumentative Indianare, as one would expect, enjoyably erudite and full of intriguing insights, they are not written in academic language . . . The book is formed from a series of elegantly written historical and moral-philosophical essays which together cohere to form a single original argument: that India is and has always been 'a joint construction in which members of different communities were involved.'"--William Dalrymple,The New York Review of Books "[A] profoundly wise and engaging collection of essays . . . While the pieces inThe Argumentative Indianare, as one would expect, enjoyably erudite and full of intriguing insights, they are not written in academic language . . . The book is formed from a series of elegantly written historical and moral-philosophical essays which t

Author Biography

The most recent of Amartya Sen's many books are Development as Freedom and Rationality and Freedom. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1998, the first Asian to be so honored.

Table of Contents

Preface ix
Diacritical Notation for Sanskrit Words xix
PART ONE Voice and Heterodoxy
1. The Argumentative Indian
3(31)
2. Inequality, Instability and Voice
34(11)
3. India: Large and Small
45(28)
4. The Diaspora and the World
73(16)
PART TWO Culture and Communication
5. Tagore and His India
89(32)
6. Our Culture, Their Culture
121(18)
7. Indian Traditions and the Western Imagination
139(22)
8. China and India
161(32)
PART THREE Politics and Protest
9. Tryst with Destiny
193(7)
10. Class in India
200(20)
11. Women and Men
220(31)
12. India and the Bomb
251(22)
PART FOUR Reason and Identity
13. The Reach of Reason
273(21)
14. Secularism and Its Discontents
294(23)
15. India through Its Calendars
317(17)
16. The Indian Identity
334(23)
Notes 357(36)
Index of Names 393(8)
General Index 401

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