11 May, 2021

Our Only Colonial Thinker

Ashis Nandy's foundational assumptions on secularism are flawed, uninformed

Sandeep Adhwaryu
Our Only Colonial Thinker

The essay by Ashis Nandy, A Billion Gandhis (June 21), demonstrates once more that this celebrated Indian psychologist and maverick thinker is exactly as dazzlingly clever as he is tiresomely repetitive and profoundly ill-informed. And he is as innocent of the facts about India and her past as he is of Europe and hers. Armed with this blissful innocence, he can then brilliantly develop paradox after paradox. The fact that none of them has any basis in reality has rarely fazed him. So let us begin with his view of the history of concepts. Nandy claims that "the concept of secularism emerged in a Europe torn by inter-religious strife, warfare and pogroms". When and where did this happen? In the France of Charles IX and Henri IV? During the Thirty Years' War? Can he give us some specific periods and societies? No. Because Nandy's Europe does not exist except in his own imagination. It is a non-place that only exists to be an 'anti-India' and he believes he can attribute anything he wants to...

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