ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Articles by Meera NandaSubscribe to Meera Nanda

Ambedkar's Gita

As the Bhagavad Gita becomes an agent of a deeper sacralisation of the public sphere, it becomes necessary to read it from Ambedkar's perspective. Just as Thomas Jefferson--a deist, a proponent of the Enlightenment and a signatory to the American Declaration of Independence--took a pair of scissors to the Bible and cut out all references to miracles, time has come for us to ask: What would Ambedkar--an admirer of Buddha and John Dewey, a tireless advocate for the annihilation of caste and a signatory to the Indian Constitution--cut out of the Gita? What would Ambedkar's Gita look like?

Ideological Convergences: Hindutva and the Norway Massacre

Anders Breivik, the man who carried out the July 2011 massacre in Norway, counts the sanatana dharma movements in India among his allies in Europe's supposed war against Islam. His manifesto refers to Koenraad Elst, a well-known Belgian critic of Islam who is also a strong votary of Hindutva in India. In addition, many other Indian writers are also quoted by Breivik. This essay looks at the shared world view, agenda and history of this school of Hindutva, and the anti-Islamic European right.

Hindu Triumphalism and the Clash of Civilisations

This essay examines the emergence of Hindu triumphalism which openly and unapologetically celebrates its conception of "superiority of Hinduism over the alleged depravity of Semitic monotheistic religions", namely, Islam and Christianity. It focuses on the publishing house called Voice of India which has emerged as the most vocal source of Hindu triumphalism. It takes a closer look at who the VOI ideologues are, what they are saying, how they are making connections with the European New Right and how they are influencing the political culture of India.

God Delusion at Work: My Indian Travel Diary

One cannot fight the faith-based politics of Hindu nationalists and the similarly inspired initiatives of the Indian state unless one questions the very foundations of the beliefs and rituals of popular Hinduism itself. One cannot go on "respecting" people's faith, but then turn around and start questioning them when they actually act upon that faith under the banner of Hindutva.

Secularism without Secularisation

What explains the failure of secularism in the US and India? Why have secular constitutions proved to be incapable of preventing the growing 'religionisation' of the state and the public sphere? This essay argues that secular laws need to be anchored in secular civil societies. Both US and India suffer from an inadequate secularisation of the cultural common sense. Historical reasons for the weakness of secularisation in the two societies have also been explored.

How Modern Are We?

This essay examines the intellectual sources of the cultural contradictions of India's modernity. Rather than bring religion under the limits of scientific reason, India has witnessed a steady co-option of science into the spirit-based cosmology and epistemology of "the Vedas." The history, the logic and social consequences of this counter-Enlightenment are examined.

Breaking the Spell of Dharma

This paper makes a fresh case for the renewal of an Enlightenment-style critique of the dharmic understanding of nature and society in India. Challenging the postmodernist and postcolonial critics who reduce the Euro-American Enlightenment to discourses of western imperialism and patriarchy, the author seeks to recover the critical impulse behind it and attempts to find cultural homologues for an Enlightenment-style 'revolt against superstition' in Indian society. By analysing how Hindu dharma naturalises hierarchy and patriarchy, the paper argues for the need for a scientific demystification of the order of nature. Without a critical engagement with the content of Hinduism's sacred tenets, it is argued here, secularisation of consciousness and culture cannot succeed.

Reclaiming Modern Science for Third World Progressive Social Movements

Progressive Social Movements Meera Nanda It is precisely the critical dimension of science movements in India which has been silenced by the new critiques ofscience\ Modern science has been given a middle name 'westen' which casts a long shadow of doubt on its validity and usefulness. There are three basic issues which are basic to the understanding of Indian science 'wars': one, the flawed logic of treating the criteria of validity of all knowledge as internal to the cultural context; two, the location of postcotonial intellectuals in the transnational academic networks that have given epistemotogical anti-imperialism so much respectability, and finally, the necessity of a scientific worldview for the advancement of equality and justice for all.

The Science Question in Post-Colonial Feminism

Meera Nanda Arguing against the tendency of some post-colonial feminists to decry Descartes and through him, the entire legacy of the Enlightenment and the Scientific Revolution as western and 'patriarchal', this article suggests that scientific rationality can serve to generate a critical stance toward the cultural discourses that constitute the self-identities of women living under traditional patriarchal arrangements in post-colonial societies.


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