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The Idea of India

Sunil Khilnani

666 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0143032461 / ISBN 13: 9780143032465
Published by Penguin Books India, 2004
New Condition: New Soft cover
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About this Item

This long essay makes an eloquent and persuasive argument for Nehru`s idea of nationhood in India. At a time when the relevance of Nehru`s vision is under scrutiny, this book assumes a special significance. Printed Pages: 264. Bookseller Inventory # 22099

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Bibliographic Details

Title: The Idea of India

Publisher: Penguin Books India

Publication Date: 2004

Binding: Softcover

Book Condition:New

About this title


A classic since it was first published in 1997, The Idea of India is a magisterial historical study that addresses the paradoxes and ironies of the world’s largest democracy. When, in 1947, the British divided and departed their most prized imperial possession, they handed a huge, diverse, and poor society to a small nationalist elite. For decades this elite would uphold a political construct, an idea of India grounded in democracy, religious tolerance, economic development, and cultural pluralism. Sunil Khilnani investigates the fate of this idea, offering incisive portraits of Gandhi, Nehru, and other Indian founders and assessing the lively debates among them and their successors over who is an Indian, the meaning of modernity, and India’s place in the world.

In a new introduction written for this edition, Khilnani reflects on the book’s striking relevance to the country’s recent developments―from the rise of a new billionaire class to the election of a government with a more exclusivist conception of Indian identity. Throughout, he provokes readers and illuminates a fundamental question as urgent now as ever: Can the original idea of India survive its own successes?

From the Inside Flap:

Fifty years ago the British divided and departed from their most prized imperial possession, handing over the new Indian state to a small nationalist elite led by Jawaharlal Nehru. The new country was then driven by a belief in a political construct, the idea of India, an idea that for decades animated the citizens' efforts to unite their huge, diverse, and poor society and to transform it into a modern state fit to join the irreversible movement of world history.

Sunil Khilnani's exciting book addresses the paradoxes and ironies that have surrounded this project of inventing India--a project that has brought Indians considerable political freedom and carried their enormous democracy to the verge of being Asia's greatest free state but that has also left many of them in poverty and that is now threatened by divisive religious nationalism.

Khilnani's superb historical analysis conveys modern India's energy, fluidity, and unpredictability--in its democracy and its voting patterns, in its visions of economic development, in its diverse cities and devotion to village culture, and in its current disputes over its political identity. Throughout, he provokes and illuminates this fundamental question: Can the original idea of India survive its own successes?

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