At present, a nativist turn in Indian political theory can be observed. There is a general assumption that the indigenous thought to which researchers are supposed to be (re)turning may somehow be immediately visible by ignoring the colonization of the mind and polity. In such a conception of svaraj (which can be translated as ‘authentic autonomy’), the tradition to be returned to would be that of the indigenous elites.
In this book, this concept of svaraj is defined as a thick conception, which links it with exclusivist notions of spirituality, profound anti-modernity, exceptionalistic moralism, essentialistic nationalism and purism. However, post-independence India has borne witness to an alternative trajectory: a thin svaraj. The author puts forward a workable contemporary ideal of thin svaraj, i.e. political, and free of metaphysical commitment. The model proposed is inspired by B.R. Ambedkar's thoughts, as opposed to the thick conception found in the works of M.K. Gandhi, KC Bhattacharya and Ramachandra Gandhi. The author argues that political theorists of Indian politics continue to work with categories and concepts alien to the lived social and political experiences of India's common man, or everyday people. Consequently, he emphasises the need to decolonize Indian political theory, and rescue it from the grip of western theories, and fascination with western modes of historical analysis. The necessity to avoid both universalism and relativism and more importantly address the political predicaments of ‘the people’ is the key objective of the book, and a push for a reorientation of Indian political theory.
An interesting new interpretation of a contemporary ideal of svaraj, this analysis takes into account influences from other cultures and sources as well as eschews thick conceptions that stifle imaginations and imaginaries. This book will be of interest to academics in the fields of philosophy, political science, sociology, litera
Table of Contents
Introduction: Time for a New Orientalism?
Part One: What Political Theory is Meant to Do
1. The Thick and Thin of Svaraj
2. Political Theory and Comparative Political Theory
3. What is Indian Political Theory?
Part Two: The Inadequacy of Trans-Atlantic Political Theory
4. Theories of "Our" Condition: Habermas and the Post-Secular Turn
5. Theories of "Our" Oppression: Žižek and the Critique of Human Rights
6. Theories of "Our" Liberation: Rawls, Sen, and the Romance of Global Justice
7. An Unkindness of Theories: Trans-Atlantic Marxism, Post-Structuralism,
and Post-Colonial Ethnographies
Part Three: Preconditions for Svaraj
8. Tradition, Hybridity, Equality
9. Gandhi and Ambedkar
10. Dalit Svaraj
Aakash Singh Rathore is Visiting Professor at the Centre for Philosophy, Jawaharlal Nehru University, India and Director of the International Research Network for Religion and Democracy (www.irnrd.org). He is also an International Fellow of the Center for Ethics & Global Politics in Rome, Italy. His previous work includes Indian Political Thought: A Reader (co-edited with Silika Mohapatra, 2010), also published by Routledge.