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

Articles by Neera ChandhokeSubscribe to Neera Chandhoke

Problem of the Unencumbered Self

Neera Chandhoke Secularism, Democracy, Justice: Implications of Rawlsian Principles in India by Nalini Rajan; Sage, Delhi, 1998; pp 220, Rs 295 (cloth).

Thinking through Rights-Exploring Grey Areas in the Theory

Contemporary thinking on rights is marked by deep and profound philosophical scepticism on the issue. The core of the problem as critics identify it is as follows; rights theories, they argue, subscribe to an outmoded concept of a transcendental human nature, without regard for specific cultural and historical traditions. Richard Rorty's philosophy is representative of this strain of thought. From another vantage point, that of Michel Foucault's, for example, comes the argument, that the idea that there is an essential human nature upon which we can pin rights is pure fiction. Dismissal of the concept of a transcendental human nature has had profound consequences for both the moral basis of rights, as well as the political weight ascribed to them. This dismissal, I consider, has left us without a handle to negotiate moral and political problems. This essay explores the grey areas in rights theory and charts out the consequences of abandoning the notion that there is something valuable about human nature which we must protect through rights.

Communitarianism with Vengeance

authoritatively to us, nor provide us with any direction as to what we should do with respect to the crisis we are living. Like Benjamin's rag-picker, we suspect that our future will be spent picking over the rums of our lives looking for whatever is useful to get by" (p 2).

Models of Liberal Democracy

Waves of Democracy, Social Movements and Political Change by John Markoff; Thousand Oaks, Pine Forge Press, California, 1996; pp 174, $ 17.95.
THIS is obviously a textbook written by an American for American sociology students. It is meant to enable students to broaden their vision and become less Americo- centric, by introducing them to comparative phenomenon and by giving them a transnational perspective. Text books are difficult to review, they are careful, neat and unbearably systematic and systematised. They avoid grey areas in the concept, they avoid troublesome debates, they avoid problematising crucial issues. The focus of a textbook writer is, after all, to offer uncluttered categories with which the student can make sense of the world, or rather of the issue on offer. Since the main constituency is the student body, and since students contrary to the expectalions of many teachers are not interested in learning how to ask questions they would rather look for answers textbooks neatcn the messy world of politics, and the untidy world of the social sciences, littered as they are by debates galore. By categorising, clarifyingand straightening out this disorderly world, textbook writers bring orderout of chaos. I personally wonder if most students would rather not have a textbook writer as their teacher, a teacher who can answer every question, even those questions which may never be asked, rather than a teacher who in the manner of Rodin's thinker contemplates the world in an endless search for knowledge. This is a problem that teachers, including me, have to think out.

Rescuing Liberalism or Nietzsche

Rescuing Liberalism or Nietzsche?
Neera Chandhoke Nietzsche, Politics and Modernity: A Critique ot Liberal Reason by David Owen; Sage, London, 1995; pp 180,

Limits of Comparative Political Analysis

Neera Chandhoke The general loss of all certainties has in particular posed problems for comparative political analysis which is based on grand theories and categories of understanding. The contemporary disenchantment with and philosophical scepticism towards grand theory, and the recovery of rigorous historical understanding are questioning the validity of totalising categories like modernisation and the nation-state. In such a situation of flux, the article argues for a methodology of concrete analysis of specific situations which will serve the aim of comparative politics by highlighting the distinctiveness of various social processes.

Why People Should Have Rights

Why People Should Have Rights Neera Chandhoke THIS is further to Nirja Gopal Jayal's comment'Rights, Justice and Gammon Property Resources' (EPW,July 9). In her reaction to K Subramanium's 'Science and Ethics in Public Decision Making: Case of Big Dams' (EPW, April 2), Jayal argues that any case for the right of tribals to common property resources cannot be articulated in terms of Nozickean philosophy as Subramanium has done. The framework which Subramanium has privileged is singularly inappropriate to the predicament of the tribals who are being displaced by the Narmada Valley project. 'The central flaw in this adaptation of the Nozickean argument to the situation of tribal communities facing imminent displacement is that this problem is completely inadmissible into the moral landscape of Nozickean political philosophy". She very rightly points out that collective rights such as the right of a community to common property resourcesdo not enter into Nozick's conceptualisation of rights, since the bearer of rights in libertarian theory is the separable individual. And it is true that liberal individualism has been traditionally uneasy with, if not hostile to, the claims of groups, since Usees group claims as violative of the principle of autonomy of individuals. The 'unencumbered' individual of liberal theory is completely emancipated from any ascriptive loyalty to a given group.

Marxian Political Economy as Method-How Political ls Political Economy

There is no single unequivocal meaning that can be assigned to political economy. Whereas the concept of political economy presumes a symbiotic relationship between politics and economics, the positing of the relationship only creates a theoretical space where it can be spelt out. Consequently, a theoretical requirement of the use of political economy as method is the mapping out of the relationship. In the absence of such mapping, political economy tends to be buffeted between 'economism

Post-Colonial World and Political Science in-Transition

Post-Colonial World and Political Science in Transition Neera Chandhoke Rethinking Third World Politics edited by James Manor; Longman, London, 1991; pp 283.

Teaching Marxism

Teaching Marxism Neera Chandhoke Marxism: An Uncommon Introduction by Bertell Oilman; Sterling, New Delhi, 1990; pp xv + 116.
THIS small, simple and rather sweet book actually consists of three texts:the preface is by Randhir Singh; the introduction to Marxist categories by Oilman comprises the second section; and the author devotes the third section to recounting the experiences faced by a Marxist scholar in teaching Marxism in an American university, The second text is frankly meant for the uninitiated and I will not comment on this, I will however comment on the third and the first section in that order since they are the most important parts of the book and merit attention.

Bringing People Back In-Political and Intellectual Agendas

Political and Intellectual Agendas Neera Chandhoke The effort to retrieve civil society as a domain of theorisation autonomous from state-centric theory has led to a fetishisation of the way people struggle in distinctive ways. The opposite of the homogenisation launched by the state becomes plurality, the counterposition of standardisation becomes distinctiveness and variation, the inversion of class becomes 'people' and the reverse of macro-processes becomes micro-episodes.


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