Secular-nationalism, as the hitherto ruling ideology of the postcolonial Indian state and elite, represents a specific, historically constituted, ideological configuration. The 1980s witnessed the explosion of what is loosely called 'identity politics' and with it a crisis in the ideology. This book is the first to explicitly examine this.
With the emergence of new political assertions like feminism and Dalit politics on the one hand, and the rise of Hindu nationalism and other sectarian tendencies on the other. Nehruvian secular-nationalism revealed some of its deeply problematic features. Nigam argues that moments of crises have revealed tht its latent assumptions are fundamentally Hindu. Further, its quest for a homogeneous national culture has led it, like other universalisms, to privilege the dominant and marginalize minority cultures.
The book takes a closer look at the phenomenon of the 'opportunism' of minority cultures - in the Indian context, the Dalit and the Muslim - and suggests that this might be the consequence of nationalism itself, especially of postcolonial nationalisms. For it is nationalism, in fact, which produces the 'minority problem' in the first place.
Therefore, the book suggests that there is a need to think beyond the nation and conceive more modern political communities Lucid in its analysis with an originality that borders on the startling, this elegantly argued volume will appeal to teachers, students and academics of politics, history, and sociology; activists of anti communal as well as Left movements; besides an informed general audience.
About the Author :
Aditya Nigam is Fellow, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, New Delhi.
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