The Indian Ideology

The Indian Ideology

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  • Paperback (2013)

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New expanded edition with a postscript on India under Modi

The historiography of modern India is largely a pageant of presumed virtues: harmonious territorial unity, religious impartiality, the miraculous survival of electoral norms in the world’s most populous democracy. Even critics of injustices within Indian society still underwrite such claims. But how well does the ‘Idea of India’ correspond to the realities of the Union?

In an iconoclastic intervention, Marxist historian Perry Anderson provides an unforgettable reading of the Subcontinent’s passage through Independence and the catastrophe of Partition, the idiosyncratic and corrosive vanities of Gandhi and Nehru, and the close interrelationship of Indian democracy and caste inequality.

The Indian Ideology caused uproar on first publication in 2012, not least for breaking with euphemisms for Delhi’s occupation of Kashmir. This new, expanded edition includes the author’s reply to his critics, an interview with the late Praful Bidwai of the Indian weekly Outlook, and a postscript on India under the rule of Narendra Modi. Anderson considers whether his regime is as much of a break with the practices and thought processes of Congress rule as is generally supposed.

Reviews

  • A magnificent achievement. It is a product of his ability, near-unique in today’s world of ideas, to distill a country’s history and politics into a few thousand words that are at once combative and informative

    Business Standard, New Delhi
  • Anderson’s scepticism towards India’s claim to be a postcolonial democracy uniquely untainted by repression, emergency powers and other dark arts of territorial “unity” is timely

    Maria MisraProspect
  • Perry Anderson brings together a set of arguments that will be received with disquiet by the scholars and ideologues who have constructed a celebratory, self-righteous consensus about the Indian Republic. Instead of writing off the unspeakable violence and egregious injustice in our society as aberrations in an otherwise successful model, Anderson points to serious structural flaws and the deep seated social prejudices of those who have administered the Indian State in the decades since Independence. It is important to read this book seriously, with equanimity and an open mind, instead of flinching and turning away from it

    Arundhati Roy