Reinventing India offers an analytical account of the history of modern India and of its contemporary reinvention. Part One traces India's transformation under colonial rule, and the ideas and social forces which underlay the deliberations of the Constituent Assembly in 1946 to consider the shaping of the post-colonial state. Part Two then narrates the story of the making and unmaking of this modern India in the period from 1950 to the present day. It pays attention to both economic and political developments, and engages with the interpretations of India's recent history through key writers such as Francine Frankel, Sudipta Kaviraj and Partha Chatterjee. Part Three consists of chapters on the dialectics of economic reform, religion, the politics of Hindu nationalism, and on popular democracy. These chapters articulate a distinct position on the state and society in India at the end of the century, and they allow the authors to engage with the key debates which concern public intellectuals in contemporary India.
Reinventing India is a lucid and eminently readable account of the transformations which are shaking India more than fifty years after Independence. It will be welcomed by all students of South Asia, and will be of interest to students of comparative politics and development studies.
Using a historical comparative approach, the book argues that external events, activist agency in strategizing, and the political economy of transnational networks explain the relative success and failure of Hindu nationalism and the Indian women’s movement rather than the ideological claims each movement makes. By focusing on how particular activist strategies lead to increased levels of public support, it shows how it is these strategies rather than the ideologies of Hindutva and feminism that mobilize people. Both of these social movements have had decades of great power and influence, and decades of relative irrelevance, and both challenge postcolonial India’s secular settlement – its division of public and private. The book goes on to highlight new insights into the inner dynamics of each movement by showing how the same strategies - grassroots education, electoral mobilization, media management, donor cultivation - lead to similarly positive results.
Bringing together the study of Hindu nationalism and the Indian women’s movement, the book will be of interest to students and scholars of South Asian Religion, Gender Studies, and South Asian Politics.
S. Nihal Singh believes that the rise of Modi marks a sharp break from more than six decades of political consensus. While Atal Behari Vajpayee’s six years of power at the head of a coalition government were broadly in line with Nehruvian philosophy except for teasing the fringes, the emergence of Modi as the leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party represents a significant shift in the working of the polity of the world’s largest democracy.
In essence, Modi and his mentor, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, are seeking to change the basis on which independent India has evolved. Instead of consensual politics in a country of many religious and ethnic groups with Muslims alone constituting more than 172 million people, the new dispensation is emphasizing separateness with loud Hindu overtones. Where this will take the country is a question time will answer.
The United States, Egypt, and India were quintessential models of secular modernity in the 1950s and 1960s. By the 1980s and 1990s, conservative Islamists challenged the Egyptian government, India witnessed a surge in Hindu nationalism, and the Christian right in the United States rose to dominate the Republican Party and large swaths of the public discourse. Using a nuanced theoretical framework that emphasizes the interaction of religion and politics, Scott W. Hibbard argues that three interrelated issues led to this state of affairs.
First, as an essential part of the construction of collective identities, religion serves as a basis for social solidarity and political mobilization. Second, in providing a moral framework, religion's traditional elements make it relevant to modern political life. Third, and most significant, in manipulating religion for political gain, political elites undermined the secular consensus of the modern state that had been in place since the end of World War II. Together, these factors sparked a new era of right-wing religious populism in the three nations.
Although much has been written about the resurgence of religious politics, scholars have paid less attention to the role of state actors in promoting new visions of religion and society. Religious Politics and Secular States fills this gap by situating this trend within long-standing debates over the proper role of religion in public life.
With analysis of events dating to the 1920s and the establishment of Muslim separatism and Hindu fundamentalism, extending to the 1990s when the Sangh Parivar's narrative of national history' reached its pinnacle with the demolition of the Babri Masjid and the attainment of state power, and terminating in 2004 when the BJP lost power and prominence at the center, this illuminating discourse is readily accessible to students and scholars of contemporary Indian politics and society.