Skip to main content

Triple Whammy on Politics, Ideas, and Indian Democracy













SUDIPTA KAVIRAJ

The Enchantment of Democracy and India
Politics and Ideas


Sudipta Kaviraj
has long been recognized as among India’s most thoughtful and wide-ranging political thinkers and analysts, one of the subtlest and most learned writers on Indian politics. Paradoxically, this has remained something of a state secret, because Kaviraj’s writings have remained scattered in journals difficult to access.

The essays in this volume, the third in a linked trilogy, try to approach Indian democracy from different angles. It is wrong to believe, Kaviraj argues, that with the rise of modernity human societies suffer complete disenchantment: modernity creates new forms of enchantment, and democracy is, in fact, part of the political enchantment of modernity.

Focusing on Indian democracy, Kaviraj shows the limits of marxist and liberal political analyses. In its Indian incarnation, he says, liberal democracy has had to inhabit an unfamiliar cultural and historical world whose peculiarities are very different from the peculiarities of European societies. Viewed by conventional political theory, Indian democracy appears inexplicable. It defies all the preconditions that theory lays down for the success of democratic government—namely, a strong bureaucratic state, capitalist production, industrialization, the secularization of society, and relative economic prosperity. The durability of Indian democracy shows that instead of asking how Indian democracy has survived, we need to ask if those are in fact preconditions for democracy.

These and many other fascinating issues of democracy’s relationship with religion, identity, development, inequality, and culture comprise the themes that link the essays in this brilliant and insightful collection.

SUDIPTA KAVIRAJ is a professor of Indian politics and intellectual history at Columbia University. Earlier he taught for many years at SOAS, London University, following a long teaching stint at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. He has been a fellow of St Antony’s College, Oxford, and a visiting professor at the University of California, Berkeley, as well as at the University of Chicago. Kaviraj's earlier essay collections, The Imaginary Institution of India and The Trajectories of the Indian State, are also available from Permanent Black.


HARDBACK / 352PP / RS 695 / ISBN 81-7824-296-6 / WORLD RIGHTS / DEC 2010

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

THE GREAT AGRARIAN CONQUEST by NEELADRI BHATTACHARYA

BUY THE PAPERBACK       FROM THE REVIEWS   Review in SOCIAL HISTORY, USA by Benjamin Siegel The Great Agrarian Conquest represents a massive intervention into the contemporary historiography of South Asia, elaborating upon some conventional wisdom but upending a great deal more of it. Readers might well place this book in conversation with works like Ranajit Guha ’ s A Rule of Property for Bengal (1963) and Bernard Cohn ’ s Colonialism and Its Forms of Knowledge (1997), to which The Great Agrarian Conquest owes some preliminary inspiration. Yet what Bhattacharya o ff ers is a wholly original account of the transformation to agrarian colonialism . . .   Few volumes in South Asian history have been more awaited than this monograph, Neeladri Bhattacharya ’ s fi rst. One of the most celebrated mentors and researchers at New Delhi ’ s Jawaharlal Nehru University, Bhattacharya retired in 2017 after a decades-long career. His formal scholarly output, limited to sev

"Every nationality has its own distinct stench": by G. Kanato Chophy

A wonderfully written and deeply moving new book on society and history in Nagaland over the past couple of centuries has just been published by Permanent Black and Ashoka University in collaboration with the New India Foundation. Its young author, G. Kanato Chophy, is one of the brightest Naga scholars on the Indian horizon from the north-east. Permanent Black asked Kanato to reflect on what’s in his book and why he wrote it. For some time now I’ve been wanting to work on a book called “constitutional Indians” – a concept that I have briefly touched upon in the conclusion of the book you’ve just published. My argument in it is that, for a putatively renegade ethnic community like the Nagas, the “idea of India” hangs precariously in the balance, supported by a piece of paper, the Indian Constitution, which we have until recently understood as a guarantee of equal rights to Indian citizens irrespective of religion, ethnicity, class, and gender. I belong to an emerging class of educated

Dhriti K. Lahiri Choudhury

We are very sad to know that Professor Dhriti K. Lahiri Choudhury has passed away. He died on Friday morning in Calcutta.  Dr Lahiri Choudhury, born in 1931, did many things: with a PhD from Leeds in English Literature, he combined his work with elephants with teaching at Rabindra Bharati University. He was a member of the IUCN elephant group and of Project Elephant. It was a joy for us to publish his Trunk Full of Tales: Seventy Years with the Indian Elephant -- the editorial sessions involved long, old-style sessions of story-telling which should have been around a campfire. He would tell of his many hair-raising journeys across Assam, Meghalaya, Bengal, the Barak Valley and elsewhere, in search of rogue elephants or on arduous elephant surveys, when the evenings always began with emptying blood-soaked boots of leeches; he would talk lovingly of the elephants in his childhood home in Mymensingh -- now in Bangladesh -- their names and foibles; and of drinking elephant milk