Righteous Republic. Modern India’s Search for Self
“Swaraj literally means ‘selfrule’: it joins together the idea of the self and the idea of sovereignty, rule, or mastery. Swaraj was used most in the late nineteenth century and throughout the first half of the twentieth century to indicate the major political project that Indians were engaged in, through a number of anticolonial, nationalist movements and other kinds of political responses to the fact of British rule and British empire. Most histories of Indian nationalism or of India during that period tell the story of how India became politically independent and how it succeeded in ending British rule. But I couldn’t find any good narrative about the search for the ‘Self’, which is the “Swa” in the first half of Swaraj.” That is why Ananya Vajpeyi, Kluge Fellow at the The John W. Kluge Center of The Library of Congress in Washington D.C., has selected five key figures of India’s modern thought, politics and culture – Mahatma Gandhi, Rabindranath Tagore, Jawaharlal Nehru, B.R. Ambedkar and Abanindranath Tagore – to understand how they tried to find values and norms that could be set up as the scaffolding for a future India. We interviewed her during the Venice-Delhi Seminars 2012, held at the Giorgio Cini Foundation in Venice.
Ananya Vajpeyi is the author of Righteous Republic. The Political Foundations of Modern India, Harvard University Press, 2012
Interview by Nicola Missaglia
Videomaker: Ruben Lagattolla
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Discover the September 2013 Issue of Seminar magazine, with contributions from the Venice-Delhi Seminars 2012