The Romance of the Nation-State: Ashis Nandy

In Culture, Politics on May 6, 2009 at 4:28 pm

On a recent Sunday afternoon,  I accidentally stumbled upon  the video of a lecture  Ashis Nandy gave at the New School ca. 2007. The video (among the best talks I’ve heard lately) is available here.

Nandy, considered to be among the most important contemporary thinkers in India, deals with the idea of the Nation-State and the ideology of Nationalism.

The central insight from the talk : All ideologies are similar in their disdain for the purported beneficiaries of that ideology: Marxists bemoan the proletariat’s lack of revolutionary zeal, feminists don’t like women, nationalists decry the lack of nationalist sentiment in people, so on and so forth. Using the case of Savarkar, Nandy expatiates wonderfully upon this theme.

The question-answer session towards the end is great fun: Nandy is in full flow, expounding  on everything from culture (and the narrow ways in which the nation-state insists it survives) to cuisine and democracy ( how it is inimical to the nationalist’s agenda) to Devdas !

On display is one of India’s finest intellectuals; as lacking in pedantry as he is rich in unique insights and observations of contemporary Indian life.

Check it out!


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