The Nation As Mother
And Other Visions Of Nationhood
'History matters in contemporary debates on nationalism,' Sugata Bose contends in The Nation as Mother. In this interconnected set of deeply researched and powerfully argued essays and speeches Bose explores the relationship between nation, reason and religion in Indian political thought and practice. Offering a subtle interpretation of the ways of imagining the nation as mother, the book illuminates different visions of India as a free and flexible federal union that have acquired renewed salience today.
Breaking out of the false dichotomy between secular nationalism and religious communalism, the author provides incisive analyses of the political legacies of Tagore and Gandhi, Nehru and Bose, Aurobindo and Jinnah, and a range of other thinkers and leaders of the anti-colonial movement. The essays question assumptions about any necessary contradiction between cosmopolitanism and patriotism and the tendency among religious majoritarians and secularists alike to confuse uniformity with unity. The speeches in Parliament draw on a rich historical repertoire to offer valuable lessons in political ethics.
In arguing against the dangers of an intolerant religious majoritarianism, this book makes a case for concepts of layered and shared sovereignty that might enable an overarching sense of Indian nationhood to coexist with multiple identities of the country's diverse populace. The Nation as Mother delves into history on the occasion of the seventieth anniversary of freedom to evoke an alternative future of a new India based on cultural intimacy among its different communities.
Sugata Bose is the Gardiner professor of history at Harvard University. He was educated at Presidency College, Calcutta, and the University of Cambridge where he obtained his PhD and was later a fellow of St Catharine's College. Before taking up the Gardiner Chair at Harvard in 2001, he was professor of history and diplomacy at Tufts University. Bose was a recipient of the Guggenheim Fellowship and gave the G.M. Trevelyan Lecture at the University of Cambridge.
Bose, who is Netaji's brother Sarat Chandra Bose's grandson, is the author of many books, including Peasant Labour and Colonial Capital and the much-acclaimed The Nation as Mother and Other Visions of Nationhood and A Hundred Horizons: The Indian Ocean in the Age of Global Empire. He has also made documentary films on South Asian history and politics and published recordings of his translations of Tagore.