The Idea of India
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|Format:||Paperback, 304 pages|
|Other Information: ||maps, references, bibliography, index|
|Published In: ||United Kingdom, 07 August 2003|
"The Idea of India" was originally published to mark the 50th anniversary of India's independence. As well as looking at modern Indian history it also looks at politics, culture and identity and serves as an introduction to modern Indian history. At the heart of India's self-image since independence has been "the idea of India" - modern, technocratic, egalitarian, secular, but the tensions between the idea and the reality have become almost intolerable. With the legacy of Nehru and Gandhi everywhere under attack and ferociously religious and militant politicians in power has the idea of India lost all meaning?
Table of Contents
Introduction - ideas of India; democracy; temples of the future; cities; who is an Indian?; epilogue - the garb of modernity.
About the Author
Sunil Khilnani was born in Delhi and educated at Cambridge. He was a fellow at Christ's College, Cambridge, has taught politics at Birkbeck College, University of London and is now based at Johns Hopkins University in Washington, DC. He is writing a biography of Nehru for Penguin.
Khilnani (politics, Univ. of London) offers a penetrating analysis of the spread of democracy to ever more diverse segments of the Indian body politic. Juxtaposed to this trend is the breakup of the Congress Party's hegemony and the subsequent growth of regional political parties. With the ebbing of congressional power and the elimination of its Socialist economic constraints, the Indian economy has embraced greater growth as the number of Indians living below the poverty line diminishes. Khilnani attributes much of this growth to India's cities, which emerge as paradoxical points of exclusion and economic dynamism when compared with rural India. In the process, national identity has in Khilnani's vision been subsumed by regional political focuses, urban and rural divisions, and greater religious identification. Hence, India's future will necessitate the continuance of a viable democracy sustaining the economic, cultural, and social diversity of the subcontinent. The author skillfully draws out the ironies and paradoxes of Indian history with a subtle, illuminating prose. For informed readers.‘John F. Riddick, Central Michigan Univ. Lib., Mt. Pleasant
New Delhi-born Khilnani, who teaches politics at the University of London, traces the rise of the Indian state from the patchwork of territories bequeathed by the British Raj after its departure in 1947. Maintaining that today's India is "the most intensely political society in the world," he believes it is through politics that his compatriots are entering the modern era. This is all the more remarkable, notes the author, for a state that "regularly fails to protect its citizens against physical violence, it does not provide them with welfare, and it has not fulfilled its extensive ambitions to transform Indian society. Yet it is today at the very center of the Indian political imagination." After detailing the socialist-leaning model Nehru envisioned for the state, Khilnani shows how his daughter and eventual successor as prime minister, Indira Gandhi, "transformed the meaning of democracy" for her fellow Indians so that it "signified, simply, elections." Though the book is insightful, the writing can be turgid: "The Municipal Council's appreciation of the principles of rational urban cartography was undoubtedly impaired by an unusual excess of commemorative zeal." For informed readers. (Jan.) FYI: For another recent, more personal account of India since independence, see Sashi Tharoor's India (Forecasts, June 23).
|Publisher: ||Penguin Books Ltd|
|Dimensions: ||19.0 x 12.0 x 1.0 centimeters (0.24 kg)|