Religion, Caste, and Politics in India

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Primus Books, 2010 - History - 802 pages

Following independence, the Nehruvian approach to socialism in India rested on three pillars: secularism and democracy in the political domain, state intervention in the economy, and diplomatic non-alignment mitigated by pro-Soviet leanings after the 1960s. These features defined a distinct "Indian model," if not the country's political identity.

From this starting point, Christophe Jaffrelot traces the transformation of India throughout the latter half of the twentieth century, particularly the 1980s and 90s. The world's largest democracy has sustained itself by embracing not only the vernacular politicians of linguistic states, but also Dalits and "Other Backward Classes," or OBCs. The simultaneous--and related--rise of Hindu nationalism has put minorities--and secularism--on the defensive. In many ways the rule of law has been placed on trial as well. The liberalization of the economy has resulted in growth, yet not necessarily development, and India has acquired a new global status, becoming an emerging power intent on political and economic partnerships with Asia and the West. The traditional Nehruvian system is giving way to a less cohesive though more active India, a country that has become what it is against all odds. Jaffrelot maps this tumultuous journey, exploring the role of religion, caste, and politics in determining the fabric of a modern democratic state.


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About the author (2010)

Christophe Jaffrelot is research director at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) in Paris and teaches South Asian politics and history at Sciences Po (Paris), where he served as director from 2000 to 2008. Arguably one of the world's most respected writers on Indian society and politics, he has published many works, including "The Hindu Nationalist Movement and Indian Politics, 1925 to the 1990s"; "India's Silent Revolution: The Rise of the Lower Castes in North India"; and "Dr. Ambedkar and Untouchability: Fighting the Indian Caste System."

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