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

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Nehruvian Modernity and Its Contradictions

Its Contradictions Akeel Bilgrami AS an obligatory ritual, books and discussions about India ask the question: how is it that a country so diverse in its languages, religions, and castes, and so deeply traditional in its mores, has survived into modernity not merely intact, but with the thoroughly non-traditional apparatus of formal democratic representation and statehood Sunil Khilnani erects one familiar answer to this question into his eponymous Idea', The idea of India is apparently the idea of a nation which is at once diverse and modern in these ways,' in the face of the odds against its being so. His book raises this question repeatedly, with intelligence and with a pervasive and decent-minded commitment to the answering 'idea' being a good one. Khilnani is also a very good writer, though one sometimes wishes he was not so aware of it: after a point the accumulating phrases gleam a little too much ('solipsistic lair1, 'galactically removed'. 'talismanic moment', 'twilight world of spectacular impotence'..) and begin to sound like brassy asides.

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