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Author: K N Panikkar
ISBN/UPC (if available): 0670888354
Thought provoking and incisive, this work urges us to question where we stand with regard to communalism at the close of the millennium, and challenges us to fashion a truly secular identity for ourselves in the twenty-first century.
What do we mean when we say India is a secular country? How is secularism defined and to what extent are secular tenets reflected in our public and private life? Are there hidden communal agendas that are innate to the socio-cultural ethos of India, and can these 'communal elements' as they are so often referred to indeed undermine the integrity of the country?
These are questions that must concern every educated and intelligent citizen as India makes its way into the new millennium. In a year that has seen the gruesome murder of the missionary Graham Staines, the resignation of the foreign-born president of the Congress from her post following protest about her un-Indianness, and the fall of the BJP-led government at the Center by a single vote, it has become more necessary than ever to take a hard look at the 'unity in diversity' that India as a nation-state is supposed to represent, and to identify the strands of communalism that run through our socio-political fabric.
In this remarkable and timely book edited by K N Panikkar who provides an illuminating introduction on the subject, six commentators on contemporary India reveal the stark truth about the communal, sectarian and segregationist tendencies that have always lurked behind our secular fatade. While Romila Thapar's essay provides a historical overview of communalism in India, Rajeev Dhavan pinpoints the legal underpinnings of the secular identity that is propounded in India's Constitution.
Sumit Sarkar looks closely at the vexed issue of conversions, which is at the center of current debates on communalism. Jayati Ghosh, on the other hand, studies the destructive effects of communal agendas on the liberalized economy. Tanika Sarkar's essay straddles the twin issues of gender and communalism to show how all marginalized sections are rendered equally vulnerable by the spread of communalism. Finally, Siddarth Varadarajan looks at the interesting relationship between communal thought and its representations in the media and popular culture.
K N Panikkar is Professor of Modern History at the Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. He has written extensively on the cultural and intellectual history of modern India. He has authored several books, and edited several volumes on the politics and history of India.
Note on Contributors
Introduction: Defining the Nation as Hindu
The Tyranny of Labels
The Road to Xanadu: India's Quest for Secularism
Hindutva and the Question of Conversions
Perceptions of Difference: The Economic Underpinnings
The Gender Predicament Of The Hindu Right
The Ink Link:
Media, Communalism and the Evasion of Politics