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The Wheel of Law: India's Secularism in Comparative Constitutional Context / Edition 1

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Overview

How can religious liberty be guaranteed in societies where religion pervades everyday life? In The Wheel of Law, Gary Jacobsohn addresses this dilemma by examining the constitutional development of secularism in India within an unprecedented cross-national framework that includes Israel and the United States. He argues that a country's particular constitutional theory and practice must be understood within its social and political context. The experience of India, where religious life is in profound tension with secular democratic commitment, offers a valuable perspective not only on questions of jurisprudence and political theory arising in countries where religion permeates the fabric of society, but also on the broader task of ensuring religious liberty in constitutional polities.

India's social structure is so entwined with religion, Jacobsohn emphasizes, that meaningful social reform presupposes state intervention in the spiritual domain. Hence India's "ameliorative" model of secular constitutionalism, designed to ameliorate the disabling effects of the caste system and other religiously based practices. Jacobsohn contrasts this with the "visionary" secularism of Israel, where the state identifies itself with a particular religion, and with America's "assimilative" secularism.

Constitutional globalization is as much a reality as economic globalization, Jacobsohn concludes, and within this phenomenon the place of religion in liberal democracy is among the most vexing challenges confronting us today. A richly textured account of the Indian experience with secularism, developed in a broad comparative framework, this book is for all those seeking ways to respond to this challenge.

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Editorial Reviews

Law and Politics Book Review - Narendra Subramanian
An important effort to understand Indian secular constitutionalism in a comparative perspective. Scholars of comparative constitutional law, religion and law, multiculturalism, and Indian law and statecraft will benefit from critically engaging with its contributions.
Perspectives on Politics - Ahrar Ahmad
The Wheel of Law is a most impressive achievement, thorough in research, astute in insights, and almost dazzling in execution and authorial resourcefulness. Deftly weaving together constitutional history, judicial logic, political development, and philosophical deliberation, this book is not merely a contribution to the discourse; it illuminates, and, in many ways, changes it.
From the Publisher
"An important effort to understand Indian secular constitutionalism in a comparative perspective. Scholars of comparative constitutional law, religion and law, multiculturalism, and Indian law and statecraft will benefit from critically engaging with its contributions."—Narendra Subramanian, Law and Politics Book Review

"The Wheel of Law is a most impressive achievement, thorough in research, astute in insights, and almost dazzling in execution and authorial resourcefulness. Deftly weaving together constitutional history, judicial logic, political development, and philosophical deliberation, this book is not merely a contribution to the discourse; it illuminates, and, in many ways, changes it."—Ahrar Ahmad, Perspectives on Politics

Law and Politics Book Review
An important effort to understand Indian secular constitutionalism in a comparative perspective. Scholars of comparative constitutional law, religion and law, multiculturalism, and Indian law and statecraft will benefit from critically engaging with its contributions.
— Narendra Subramanian
Perspectives on Politics
The Wheel of Law is a most impressive achievement, thorough in research, astute in insights, and almost dazzling in execution and authorial resourcefulness. Deftly weaving together constitutional history, judicial logic, political development, and philosophical deliberation, this book is not merely a contribution to the discourse; it illuminates, and, in many ways, changes it.
— Ahrar Ahmad
Law and Politics Book Review

An important effort to understand Indian secular constitutionalism in a comparative perspective. Scholars of comparative constitutional law, religion and law, multiculturalism, and Indian law and statecraft will benefit from critically engaging with its contributions.
— Narendra Subramanian
Perspectives on Politics

The Wheel of Law is a most impressive achievement, thorough in research, astute in insights, and almost dazzling in execution and authorial resourcefulness. Deftly weaving together constitutional history, judicial logic, political development, and philosophical deliberation, this book is not merely a contribution to the discourse; it illuminates, and, in many ways, changes it.
— Ahrar Ahmad
Perspectives on Politics
The Wheel of Law is a most impressive achievement, thorough in research, astute in insights, and almost dazzling in execution and authorial resourcefulness. Deftly weaving together constitutional history, judicial logic, political development, and philosophical deliberation, this book is not merely a contribution to the discourse; it illuminates, and, in many ways, changes it.
— Ahrar Ahmad
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691122533
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 3/14/2005
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 344
  • Sales rank: 1,102,214
  • Product dimensions: 6.14 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.84 (d)

Meet the Author

Gary Jeffrey Jacobsohn is Fred Greene Third Century Professor of Jurisprudence and Politics at Williams College. He is the author of "Apple of Gold" (Princeton), "The Supreme Court and the Decline of Constitutional Aspiration", and "Pragmatism, Statesmanship, and the Supreme Court".
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Table of Contents

Preface
Acknowledgments
Ch. 1 Introduction: Ashoka's Wheel 1
Pt. 1 Three Models of Secular Constitutional Design
Ch. 2 Nations and Constitutions: Dimensions of Secular Configuration 21
Ch. 3 Secularism in Context 54
Ch. 4 India: The Ameliorative Aspiration 91
Pt. 2 Constitutional Perspectives on the Challenge to Secularism in India
Ch. 5 Religion, Politics, and the Failure of Constitutional Machinery 125
Ch. 6 Corrupt Practices: Religious Speech and Democratic Deliberation 161
Ch. 7 Adjudicating Secularism: Political Liberalism or Religious Revivalism? 189
Ch. 8 So You Want a (Constitutional) Revolution? Lessons from Abroad 227
Ch. 9 Conclusion: Toward Secular Convergence 265
Bibliography 291
Index 311
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