Thursday, January 21, 2010

Book Review: The Imaginary Institution of India

One of the fine books on this topic and especially interesting in the analysis of Indian history. There is the very abstract and delicate reasoning throughout the book. The author has followed various historical strands of the composition of India as political idea with an emphasis on the period of colonialism and later. The development of modern Indian nation is looked from a intellectual position with as far objectivity possible when viewed back in time from the present.

The subject is discussed in implicit and sometimes explicit reference to stronger, well-established and well-defined nations. Notably, the conceptual boundary of nation is itself under dynamic change in these times of the global village.

A unique description of the events leading to 1857 uprising and the importance of Gandhi as a political phenomenon in the development of idea of India. The discussion on Gandhi and his original way to bridge the gap between literate and illiterate parts of the population is especially illuminating. The managing of contradictions to forge the Indian national concept by Gandhi is discussed in some detail.

The important feature of the this book is an extensive discussion of the effect of multiple languages and its effects on the India politics and nation-state throughout history. The author also discusses how the successive emergence of Sanskrit to Persian/Urdu and English through history has accompanied the change of stable governments over the Indian sub-continent.

Summarizing the review, this book comes across as a thought provoking and enlightening discussion to broaden our understanding of India. This is also relevant in these times of globalisation with the emergence of India on the world horizon following China as the other similar Asian nation in most dimensions but excluding the immense polyglot nature of Indian nation.

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