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

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The Absent Liberal

This essay explores the rise and decline of liberal thought in modern India. It argues that Indian liberalism is a sensibility rather than a theory, a product of empirical engagement rather than an elaboration of principles laid down in canonical texts. Where liberals dominated the intellectual landscape in the 1950s and 1960s, more recently they have become an endangered species. Liberals have been squeezed out by the identity politics of the left, which holds that caste is and should be the fundamental axis of Indian society, and by the identity politics of the right, which assigns a hegemonic role to religion.

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