The future of Western political theory will be decided outside the West. And in deciding that future, the experience of India will loom large. This course explores the preceding proposition, examining ideas of political theory in relation to modern India’s history. How have concepts of democracy, nation, rights, citizenship, and global order shaped India, and how has the Indian experience in turn altered them? The aim of the course is to provide an introduction to modern India’s political thinking while at the same time challenging our understanding of core political ideas.
Modern India is constituted through some of the most intricate and intense debates in recent political history - arguments about identity and difference, representation and dignity, individuality and communitarianism, justice and inequality, freedom and power. We will consider these debates, and also the practices and institutions (sometimes innovative, often flawed) to which they have given rise. The course offers a historically grounded approach to the study of Indian political thinking, while also examining normative political ideals in a comparative context, in order to clarify these ideals.