By making religious community a relevant category for discussing development deficit, the Sachar Committee Report (that was submitted to the Prime Minister of India in 2007) initiated a new political discourse in India. While the liberal secular framework privileged the individual over the community and was more inclined to use the category of class rather than the identity of religion, the Sachar Committee differentiated citizens on the basis of their religious identity. Its conclusions reinforced the necessity of approaching issues of development through the optic of religious community.
This volume focuses on this shift in public policy. The articles in this collection examine the nature and implications of this new approach to the Indian social reality. Taking a close look at the findings of the Sachar Committee Report (SCR) they highlight the challenges posed by inter-community comparisons. At another level the articles supplement the debate initiated by the SCR by constructing a profile of religious communities in India so as to factor in their concerns of development into the present discourse and to nuance and modify the simple indicators to which development is often reduced. As most religious communities are themselves engaged in development-related activities the volume also examines some of these initiatives in order to see what development connotes to the members themselves and what receives attention by the community.
Students of social sciences and development studies as well as those dealing with issues of marginalization will find this collection an invaluable resource for understanding contemporary India and for undertaking further theoretical and empirical research.
Social science research and popular discourse on 'religion and public life' have gradually moved away from binaries such as communal–secular, tradition–modern, or community–individual. It is now widely recognised that religion and cultural traditions do not simply disappear from public life with economic development. In countries like India, this shift has also been reinforced by the emerging social and political trends where issues relating to citizenship are raised through identity movements of historically deprived categories such as the Dalits, Adivasis, and religious minorities such as the Muslims, for inclusive and just development.
This ‘positive’ view of religion parallels changing attitudes in other parts of the world as well where there is growing interest on religious communities and faith-based organisations and their potential role in enhancing development and service delivery. While this has led to a renewed interest in the study of religion, rigorous social science research on ‘religion and citizenship’ is still at a nascent stage.
This series attempts to fill the gap by bringing together scholarly writing on this important and rapidly expanding area of research in the social sciences.