This book looks at the triadic relations between faith, the state and political actors, and the ideas that move them. It comprises a set of essays on diverse histories and ideas, ranging from Gandhian civic action to radical free thought in colonial India, from liberation theologies, that take their cue from specific and lived experiences of oppression and humiliation, to the universalism promised by an expansive Islam. Deploying gender and caste as the central analytical categories, these essays suggest that equality and justice rest on the strength and vitality of the exchanges between the worlds of the civic, the religious and the state, and not on their strict separation.
Going beyond time-honoured dualities — between the secular and the communal (especially in the Indian context), or the secular and the pre-modern — the book joins the lively debates on secularism that have emerged in the 21st century in West, South and South-east Asia.
V. Geetha is a writer and translator. She is Editor at Tara Books.
Nalini Rajan is at Asian College of Journalism, Chennai.