Author: Gautam Adhikari
ISBN/UPC (if available): 9789350290514
Sixty-three years after independence, the issue of national identity is still not settled in India. After the trauma of Partition, religious conflagrations such as the destruction of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya in 1992 and the Gujarat riots of 2002 have left deep scars on the psyche of the nation.
They have led to a fundamental debate over what kind of a nation India should be. Must it uphold a particular culture? Or must it celebrate diversity?
In this brilliant essay, Gautam Adhikari, a liberal-secular democrat who also happens be an agnostic, tackles the issue of national identity head-on. He demonstrates how extremist religious ideologies and violent politics of forces on the right and the left have overshadowed the idea of a liberal, tolerant society that India's founding fathers dreamed of, where many views would compete for public attention, where the motto 'live and let live' would be the nation's guiding philosophy, and where India would be a liberal-democratic beacon for Emerging Nations of the developing world.
Instead, the reality today is that far too many Indians see pluralism as phony and tolerant secularism as irrelevant to an existence centred on narrow religious, regional or ethnic identities.
Pointing out flaws in the Indian version of secularism, where there is no strict Separation of Church and state, Adhikari shows how governments have often buckled to please one vote Bank or the other, thus posing a threat to the collective vision of India. If these trends are not checked, he warns, the very idea of India may be in jeopardy.
This timely, thought-provoking essay is a plea to build and sustain a truly liberal society. The questions it poses have an important bearing on the country's future.
“... A deeply serious and controversial study by a skilled and very knowledgeable journalist... The book closely argues that there is a very real threat to Indian democracy from pervasive social inequalities, opposition to free expression of unpopular ideas, and, above all, from intolerance on the part of dominant religious groups... This is truly a tract for our perilous times that deserves a wide and careful readership.”
--- AINSLIE T. EMBREE, PROFESSOR EMERITUS OF HISTORY,
“... eye-opening, thought-provoking and superbly written. While the title, for us as Indians, may be provocative, the book's message is uncontestable. It is simply that, as a nation, India is certainly liberal and secular, but as people we are often intolerant of diversity of religion, ideology or culture among different segments of society... Highly recommended, this book should in fact be compulsory reading for aspiring politicians as well as in colleges and universities.”
--- BIMAL JAIAN, AUTHOR AND FORMER GOVERNOR, RESERVE BANK OF INDIA
“This is a timely, topical and cogently written book on a critical and contested issue - the current state and the likely future of Indian secularism. Those with an interest in contemporary India will find this analysis illuminating, insightful and telling.”
--- SUMIT GANGULY, RABINDRANATH TAGORE CHAIR IN INDIAN CULTURES AND CIVILIZATIONS, INDIANA UNIVERSITY, BLOOMINGTON
“Gautam Adhikari spares no punches in a sharp attack on religious extremists of all kinds, and on organized religion itself, while insisting on the right of every citizen, including the extremist and the fundamentalist, to a free expression of views. This is an important book for all, especially for those Indians who may have taken the republic for granted.”
--- KARAN THAPAR, TV JOURNALIST AND COLUMNIST
One – The Intolerant Indian
Two – Pluralism and Tolerance
Three – The Politics of Hate
Four – Democracy, Dynasty and Congress
Five – Islam and Intolerance
Six – Sense and Sensitivity
Seven – Choking Expression
Eight – Interpreting Secularism
Nine – Religion and Illiberalism
Ten – Seeking Liberal Democracy
Eleven – In Conclusion
For Further Reading
About the Author