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Indian Secularism: A Social and Intellectual History, 1890-1950
     

Indian Secularism: A Social and Intellectual History, 1890-1950

by Shabnum Tejani
 

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Many of the central issues in modern Indian politics have long been understood in terms of an opposition between ideologies of secularism and communalism. Observers have argued that recent Hindu nationalism is the symptom of a crisis of Indian secularism and have blamed this on a resurgence of religion or communalism. Shabnum Tejani unpacks prevailing assumptions

Overview

Many of the central issues in modern Indian politics have long been understood in terms of an opposition between ideologies of secularism and communalism. Observers have argued that recent Hindu nationalism is the symptom of a crisis of Indian secularism and have blamed this on a resurgence of religion or communalism. Shabnum Tejani unpacks prevailing assumptions about the meaning of secularism in contemporary politics, focusing on India but with many points of comparison elsewhere in the world. She questions the simple dichotomy between secularism and communalism that has been used in scholarly study and political discourse. Tracing the social, political, and intellectual genealogies of the concepts of secularism and communalism from the late nineteenth century until the ratification of the Indian constitution in 1950, she shows how secularism came to be bound up with ideas about nationalism and national identity.

Editorial Reviews

Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History
"Indian Secularism... provides us with a nuanced, historical account of the developmental relationship of ideas of nationalism comunalism, and secularism in India. It will be of interest to many readers." —Manu Bhagavan, Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History, V.10.2 Fall 2009

— Manu Bhagavan

American Historical Review
"Tejani draws our attention to the evolution of secularism as a political concept in colonial India, and to the often unexpected conceptual anchors that continue to exert a determinative, though hidden, influence over secular politics up to the present day." —Srirupa Roy, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, American Historical Review, Vol. 115 Feb. 2010

— Srirupa Roy, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

H-Asia
"Indian Secularism is a provocative book. It begins with the judgment that secularism is dead, for reasons of semantic vaporization and loss of prescriptive value. It ends with the aspiration for a 'more democratic and plural society." —Dilip Simeon, Independent Scholar and Historian, H-Asia, May 2010

— Dilip Simeon, Independent Scholar and Historian

From the Publisher
"What comes through in Tejani's study is that despite claims to the contrary, India was (and is) dominated by one ethnic group, variously orthodox but homogeneously Hindu." —Choice, October 2009

"Indian Secularism... provides us with a nuanced, historical account of the developmental relationship of ideas of nationalism comunalism, and secularism in India. It will be of interest to many readers." —Manu Bhagavan, Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History, V.10.2 Fall 2009

'Secularism—the idea that was supposed to secure social integration and reflect the universal character of human enlightenment—is dead,' (p. 5) provocatively states Tejani (School of Oriental and African Studies, Univ. of London). She then states, quite correctly, that secularism, as well as such concepts as modernity and religion, was given different meanings by different people at different moments in history. She looks at the concept of secularism by examining what it has meant to India in modern times. The author divides the six chapters into three sections: 'Nationalism,' which focuses on Hindu nationalism in Maharashtra in the 19th century; 'Communalism' of the 1920s and early 1930s, in which she reaffirms the point that Gandhi's claim to be a sanatani (orthodox) Hindu was central to the alienation of Muslims (and Sikhs and untouchables); and 'Secularism,' wherein she argues that the concept of secularism replaced that of nationalism in 1947 when any idea of quotas for religious minorities became political anathema. What comes through in Tejani's study is that despite claims to the contrary, India was (and is) dominated by one ethnic group, variously orthodox but homogeneously Hindu. Paradoxically, by coding for nationalism, Indian secularism ended up impeding nation building. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above. —ChoiceR. D. Long, Eastern Michigan University, October 2009

"Indian Secularism is a provocative book. It begins with the judgment that secularism is dead, for reasons of semantic vaporization and loss of prescriptive value. It ends with the aspiration for a 'more democratic and plural society." —Dilip Simeon, Independent Scholar and Historian, H-Asia, May 2010

"Tejani draws our attention to the evolution of secularism as a political concept in colonial India, and to the often unexpected conceptual anchors that continue to exert a determinative, though hidden, influence over secular politics up to the present day." —Srirupa Roy, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, American Historical Review, Vol. 115 Feb. 2010

Choice

"What comes through in Tejani's study is that despite claims to the contrary, India was (and is) dominated by one ethnic group, variously orthodox but homogeneously Hindu." —Choice, October 2009

R. D. Long

'Secularism--the idea that was supposed to secure social integration and reflect the universal character of human enlightenment--is dead,' (p. 5) provocatively states Tejani (School of Oriental and African Studies, Univ. of London). She then states, quite correctly, that secularism, as well as such concepts as modernity and religion, was given different meanings by different people at different moments in history. She looks at the concept of secularism by examining what it has meant to India in modern times. The author divides the six chapters into three sections: 'Nationalism,' which focuses on Hindu nationalism in Maharashtra in the 19th century; 'Communalism' of the 1920s and early 1930s, in which she reaffirms the point that Gandhi's claim to be a sanatani (orthodox) Hindu was central to the alienation of Muslims (and Sikhs and untouchables); and 'Secularism,' wherein she argues that the concept of secularism replaced that of nationalism in 1947 when any idea of quotas for religious minorities became political anathema. What comes through in Tejani's study is that despite claims to the contrary, India was (and is) dominated by one ethnic group, variously orthodox but homogeneously Hindu. Paradoxically, by coding for nationalism, Indian secularism ended up impeding nation building. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above. --ChoiceR. D. Long, Eastern Michigan University, October 2009

Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History - Manu Bhagavan

"Indian Secularism... provides us with a nuanced, historical account of the developmental relationship of ideas of nationalism comunalism, and secularism in India. It will be of interest to many readers." —Manu Bhagavan, Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History, V.10.2 Fall 2009

American Historical Review - Srirupa Roy

"Tejani draws our attention to the evolution of secularism as a political concept in colonial India, and to the often unexpected conceptual anchors that continue to exert a determinative, though hidden, influence over secular politics up to the present day." —Srirupa Roy, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, American Historical Review, Vol. 115 Feb. 2010

H-Asia - Dilip Simeon

"Indian Secularism is a provocative book. It begins with the judgment that secularism is dead, for reasons of semantic vaporization and loss of prescriptive value. It ends with the aspiration for a 'more democratic and plural society." —Dilip Simeon, Independent Scholar and Historian, H-Asia, May 2010

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780253220448
Publisher:
Indiana University Press
Publication date:
09/17/2008
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
320
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range:
3 Months

Meet the Author

Shabnum Tejani is Lecturer in Modern South Asian History, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.

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