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This book looks at the triadic relations between faith, the state and political actors, and the ideas that move them. It comprises a set of essays on diverse histories and ideas, ranging from Gandhian civic action to radical free thought in colonial India, from liberation theologies, that take their cue from specific and lived experiences of oppression and humiliation, to the universalism promised by an expansive Islam. Deploying gender and caste as the central analytical categories, these essays suggest that equality and justice rest on the strength and vitality of the exchanges between the worlds of the civic, the religious and the state, and not on their strict separation. Going beyond time-honoured dualities -- between the secular and the communal (especially in the Indian context), or the secular and the pre-modern -- the book joins the lively debates on secularism that have emerged in the 21st century in West, South and South-east Asia.
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Table of Contents

Introduction Part I: Gandhi and his Critics 1. Reconstructing Social Reform as Secularism: The Example of the Tamil Self-respecters 2. The Political and Ecological Perspectives of Gandhi and Habermas 3. Civil Disobedience to Suicide Terrorism -- Such a Long Journey Part II: Dalit History: Explorations into the Idea of Fraternity 4. Dalit-bahujan Rationality and the Persistence of Blood Sacrifice 5. Caste and the Issue of Radical Alterity 6. Social Suffering and Salvation: The Relevance of The Buddha and His Dhamma Part III: Islamic Feminism: Mixed Discourse of Faith and Justice 7. Notes on the Veil, the Harem and Polygamy in Contemporary Islamic Cultures 8. 'Applying Laws to Their Advantage': Muslim Women Debate Faith, Gender and Citizenship. Bibliography. About the Authors. Index

About the Author

V. Geetha is a writer and translator. She is Editor at Tara Books. Nalini Rajan is at Asian College of Journalism, Chennai.

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