Pluralism and Democracy in India Debating the Hindu Right

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2015-03-09
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press

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Wendy Doniger and Martha Nussbaum bring together leading scholars from a wide array of disciplines to address a crucial question: How does the world's most populous democracy survive repeated assaults on its pluralistic values? India's stunning linguistic, cultural, and religious diversity has been supported since Independence by a political structure that emphasizes equal rights for all, and protects liberties of religion and speech. But a decent Constitution does not implement itself, and challenges to these core values repeatedly arise-most recently in the form of the Hindu Right movements of the twenty-first century that threatened to destabilize the nation and upend its core values, in the wake of a notorious pogrom in the state of Gujarat in which approximately 2000 Muslim civilians were killed.

Focusing on this time of tension and threat, the essays in this volume consider how a pluralistic democracy managed to survive. They examine the role of political parties and movements, including the women's movement, as well as the role of the arts, the press, the media, and a historical legacy of pluralistic thought and critical argument. Featuring essays from eminent scholars in history, religious studies, political science, economics, women's studies, and media studies, Pluralism and Democracy in India offers an urgently needed case study in democratic survival. As Nehru said of India on the eve of Independence: ''These dreams are for India, but they are also for the world.'' The analysis this volume offers illuminates not only the past and future of one nation, but the prospects of democracy for all.

Author Biography

Wendy Doniger is Mircea Eliade Distinguished Service Professor of the History of Religions at the University of Chicago.

Martha C. Nussbaum is Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics at the University of Chicago.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Wendy Doniger and Martha Nussbaum

I.The Past and the Present
The Politics of History - Amartya Sen
Pluralism on Trial in Late Nineteenth-Century India - Mushirul Hasan
Nehru, Religion, and the Humanities - Martha C. Nussbaum
Gandhi, Newton, and the Enlightenment - Akeel Bilgrami

II. Democratic Media
Legitimating Majoritarian Chauvinism: The Indian Media and the Hindutva Campaign - Malini Parthasarathy
Clarity Begins at Home - Antara Dev Sen,
From a Compartmental Society to Growing Violence and Corruption: Surveying in the 1990s through Advertisements - Arvind Rajagopal

III. Political Parties and Movements
The Long March from Ayodhya: Democracy and Violence in India - Amrita Basu
Tokenism or Empowerment? Policies and Institutions for Disadvantaged Communities - Zoya Hasan
Neoliberalism and the Food Crisis - Prabhat Patnaik

IV. Creating an Inclusive Public Culture Gurcharan Das, The Dilemma of a Liberal Hindu
The Role of Poetry and Literature in Implementing a Pluralistic Democracy: Writing at the Time of Siege - Nabaneeta Dev Sen
The Baby and the Bathwater: Secularism in the Work of a Conservative Writer - Pratik Kanjilal
The BJP's Intellectual Agenda: Textbooks and Imagined History - Mushirul Hasan and Jamia Millia Islamia

V. Gender and Democracy
'Shed No More Blood': Women's Peace Work in India - Ritu Menon
Violent and Violated Women in Hindu Extremist Politics - Tanika Sarkar
Fantasies of Purity and Domination: Rape and Torture in the Gujarat Riots - Martha C. Nussbaum

VI. India's Politics on the U.S. Stage
Speaking About, For, To, Against, and With Hindus: Scholars and Practitioners in the Diasporic Post-Colonial Moment - Paul Courtright
The Fight for the History of Hinduism in the American Academy - Wendy Doniger
Partisan Dreams, Fractured Homeland: Gujarati Diaspora Politics in America - Mona G. Mehta
The Hindu Diaspora in the United States - Ved Nanda


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