24 July, 2021

University in Diversity

Sociological study finds a new arena: the open secular institutions

University in Diversity
WHETHER it is the Babri Masjid issue, the question of religious conversion or even the ongoing tussle within the Bombay underworld where the 'Hindu' Chhota Rajan is said to be at war against the 'Muslim' Chhota Shakeel, public discourse tends to look at conflict as a problem between communities rather than a product of the State's failure to defend the rule of law and constitutionally-provided rights. In a society where the notion of individual citizenship is increasingly being subverted by religion- or caste-based identity politics, Andre Beteille's book comes as a refreshing defence of liberalism.

Although it has many strands, liberalism can broadly be defined as a concern for the rights of the individual over and against her/his community and the State; it stresses the need for a plurality of associations and ideas both as a good in itself and to check the power of the majority. While Beteille's essays are not so much prescriptive as attempts to understand the processes of change in Indian society—and some of his keenest insights come from recognising that social...

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