In May 2014, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi travelled to the riverside holy city of Varanasi to worship mother goddess Ganges in gratitude for his victory in the national elections. This grand self-promotional gesture by a prominent Hindu nationalist politician illustrates how religion and politics remain enmeshed in India. Even though the democratic constitution of the nation-state has been modeled on western varieties of secularism, everyday politics is infused with religious iconographies.
Federal elections in the world’s largest democracy have recently led to a significant change of leadership in India. There are two crucial domains of concern for anyone looking at the future of India after these elections: on the one hand, concerns about the rights and dignity of minority communities, which is saturated with an ideological component; on the other hand, the project of growth and development, which is the language Prime Minister Modi now speaks.
This is a book about India and China. It is about the ways in which these nation-forms, and the nationalist understandings of religion that have thereby developed, have been transformed by Western imperial modernity.
August 28th 2013, reminded us of the power of the spoken word as the world commemorated the 50th anniversary of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr’s historic “I Have a Dream” speech. What was celebrated was the moral power of words to transform history – this despite the risk and tragedy of empty rhetoric which has inundated it.