India is a richly diverse country. To celebrate diversity, it has become important to accommodate equally diverse ideas and visions of what India means as a nation.
Editors Ashis Nandy and Aakash Singh Rathore have taken a step towards this through a fourteen-volume series titled Rethinking India. The series is a highly relevant narrative in today’s times to revisit our idea of a ‘nation’.
The series is a byproduct of numerous working groups coming together to critically rethink social, economic and political spaces to encourage a transformative spirit. Over 400 of India’s foremost academics, activists, professionals and policymakers have come together to constructively engage in this process.
What are some of the challenges that the series brings to light? We take a look:
Government pays lip service to values our Constitution was founded upon
Our Constitution, as the preamble so eloquently attests, was founded upon the fundamental values of the dignity of the individual and the unity of the nation, envisioned in relation to a radically egalitarian justice.
The government policy however, merely pays lip service to egalitarian considerations, while the actual administration of ‘justice’ and implementation of laws are in fact perpetuating the opposite: illegality, criminality, corruption, bias, nepotism and injustice of every conceivable stripe. The rapid rise of social intolerance and manifold exclusions (along the lines of gender, caste, religion, etc.) whittle down and even sabotage an inclusive conception of citizenship, polity and nation.
Most basic constitutional principles under attack
All the public institutions that were originally created in order to fight against dominance and subservience are in the process of subversion, creating new hierarchies instead of dismantling them, generating inequities instead of ameliorating them.
The uprising against those who merely pay lip service
There are in fact new sites for sociopolitical assertion re-emerging. There are new calls arising for the reinstatement of the letter and spirit of our Constitution, not just normatively (where we battle things out ideologically) but also practically (the battle at the level of policy articulation and implementation). They witness the wide participation of youth, women, the historically disadvantaged in the process of finding a new voice, minorities, members of majority communities, and progressive individuals all joining hands in solidarity.
A series like Rethinking India not only brings such structural problems to light, but also propose disruptive solutions to each of the pressing challenges that we collectively face.
Inputs have been organized and assembled from jan sunwais (public hearings) and jan manches (public platforms) that have been conducted across several states. These ideas have also been discussed and debated with leaders of fourteen progressive political parties, in an effort to set benchmarks for a future common minimum program.
The series begins a conversation that we’d want each and every civilian of this country to be a part of.
The inaugural volume of the series is titled Vision for a Nation: Paths and Perspectives, and champions the idea of a plural, diverse, inclusive and prosperous India.