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

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Cultivating a Democratic Self

The Social Life of Democracy by Sundar Sarukkai, Kolkata: Seagull, 2023; pp xiii + 166, `599.

This 162-page essay’s primary concern is, what does it mean to be a democratic self? The foundational argument in this essay is based on B R Ambedkar’s conceptualisation of democracy expressed in his Riddles in Hinduism: “If the mental disposition of the individuals is democratic, then the democratic form of government can be expected to result in good government.” Sundar Sarukkai argues that democracy cannot be reduced to political actions like voting but follows Ambedkar in viewing it as a “philosophy of life.” Though values like equality and liberty are essential components of democracy, fraternity structures the relationship between individuals and groups in a society. So, according to Ambedkar, without experiencing “fellow-feeling,” there cannot be any democracy. Hence, Sarukkai begins with this question: “If democracy needs the individual’s ‘mental disposition’ to be democratic, then what should the ideal process of democracy be?” (p 3).

Experience and Concept of Democracy

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