The Struggle for India's Soul
Nationalism and the Fate of Democracy
Over a billion Indians are alive today. But are some more Indian than others? To answer this question, central to the identity of all who belong to modern India, Shashi Tharoor explores hotly contested notions of nationalism, patriotism, citizenship and belonging.
Two opposing ideas of India have emerged: ethno-religious nationalism, versus civic nationalism. This struggle for India’s soul now threatens to hollow out and destroy the remarkable concepts bestowed upon the nation at Independence: pluralism, secularism, inclusive nationhood. The Constitution is under siege; institutions are being undermined; mythical pasts propagated; universities assailed; minorities demonised, and worse. Tharoor shows how these new attacks threaten the ideals India has long been admired for, as authoritarian leaders and their supporters push the country towards illiberalism and intolerance. If they succeed, millions will be stripped of their identity, and bogus theories of Indianness will take root in the soil of the subcontinent.
However, all is not yet lost. This erudite, lucid book, taking a long view of India’s existential crisis, shows what needs to be done to save everything that is unique and valuable about India.