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Indian Philosophy, Indian Revolution

On Caste and Politics

April 2024 9781911723233 288pp
Available as an eBook
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Description

In their brave and challenging book, grounded in political science and the Continental philosophical tradition, Divya Dwivedi and Shaj Mohan engage with the resurgence of upper-caste supremacism in India and its justification via the legacy of ‘the Aryan doctrine’ and Hindu nationalism.

Their essays were written from 2016 to 2023, when India’s democratic institutions were subverted and caste-based oppression overflowed into public space—killing and menacing the lower castes of all religions, minorities, women, students and the media.

This book chronicles the ascending oppression of democracy in India, a veritable biography of authoritarianism. Dwivedi and Mohan reject simplistic accounts of India’s politics as the opposition between ‘Hindu majoritarian nationalism’ and ‘the religious minorities’, or between ‘Hindu fundamentalism’ and ‘religious pluralism’. They propose instead a genuinely transformative account of Indian politics, grounded in political philosophy and in the lower- caste majority position.

What does revolution mean where the constitutional promise of equality is betrayed daily by the millennia- old inequality of caste? What does politics mean where religion serves as the justification for descent- based enslavement and indignity? Revolution has only one sense in India, the annihilation of caste; and ‘citizen’ has only one sense, the people of the state shedding caste and racism.

Reviews

‘Nothing less than an anti-caste political program or a manifesto only comparable to the little book of Marx and Engels.’ — The Wire

‘It takes courage to oppose the fascism of the Hindu-nationalist BJP that represents upper caste supremacism … An unambiguous revolutionary thesis … the philosophical interpretation about India that has been missing in the world … Not just a book for those interested in contemporary India, it is obligatory reading for all who want to understand the precipice towards which our entire world is moving … a book for everyone who seriously wants to think.’ — Slavoj Žižek

‘Not since the days of Sartre has philosophy addressed political issues with the directness and clarity that Dwivedi and Mohan bring to their exposure of the caste system. A courageous book whose importance is not confined to its immediate context of India.  It overwhelms one with a sense of injustice and may well inspire a generation to speak out more openly. Listen and learn.’ — Robert Bernasconi, Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of Philosophy and African American Studies, Penn State University, and author of Critical Philosophy of Race

‘Divya Dwivedi and Shaj Mohan are philosophers in the true sense of the word. The span of their work speaks for itself – from Gandhi to the origins of the term Hindu, from the question of caste and its actual relationship with race – and makes a reading of their work essential to understanding our times, our politics.’ — Hartosh Singh Bal, political editor of Caravan Magazine, and former editor of OPEN Magazine

‘Two courageous Indian philosophers. Mohan and Dwivedi are not satisfied with intellectual resistance only, invoking the practical spirit of Gandhi to call for radical change. This is philosophy that takes its cutting edge into the public sphere in the name of human justice and freedom.’ — Robert J. C. Young, Julius Silver Professor, Professor of English and Comparative Literature, New York University

Author(s)

Divya Dwivedi is a philosopher based in India, Associate Professor of Philosophy at the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, and co-founder of the journal Philosophy World Democracy. She is the co-author with Shaj Mohan of Gandhi and Philosophy.

Shaj Mohan is a philosopher based in India, publishing on metaphysics, technology and history of philosophy. He is the co-author with Divya Dwivedi of Gandhi and Philosophy.

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