20 June, 2021

Saffron Exegetist

Christophe Jaffrelot discovers new twists in Indian politics

Saffron Exegetist

FOR 33-year-old Christophe Jaffrelot, India poses an unprecedented challenge to accepted categories of political theory. Here there's democracy without individualism; ancient categories like 'caste' double as modern 'lobbies'; doctrines of social reform don't mean takeover of state power as they do in the West and popular distrust of formal politics strengthens, rather than weakens, Indian democracy.

 A student of Oriental philosophy at the Sorbonne, Jaffrelot first came to India at the age of 17. "Like so many before me, I became excited by the interaction between India and the West." Now, almost fluent in Hindi, on first-name terms with many politicians, he's written three books on Indian politics and is recognised as an international authority on Hindutva. "The British left behind a system in India, and despite all odds, that system continues to work. But it works in its own way and sets its own rules, like nowhere else in the world."

 His first book—The Hindu Nationalist Movement in...

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