Liberalisms in India: A Sketch

Rochana Bajpai

in Liberalism as Ideology

Published in print February 2012 | ISBN: 9780199600670
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191738203 | DOI:
Liberalisms in India: A Sketch

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Indian liberalism is relatively understudied as liberalism, although liberal ideas have been examined as part of other ideological currents. This chapter explores the reasons for this neglect, and distinguishes three strands of Indian liberalisms: colonial, nationalist, and radical. Within each strand, some significant thinkers are discussed: Cornwallis and Macaulay in colonial liberalism; Rammohan Roy and M. G. Ranade in nationalist liberalism; Jyotirao Phule and B. R. Ambekdar in radical liberalism. While these three liberalisms have clashed politically, important ideological similarities can be found, in particular, a strong belief in the state as the agent of liberal reform, and recognition of group-differentiated rights. Liberalism has been more prevalent in India than is commonly believed; however, strong liberalisms are weakly articulated, with many sophisticated thinkers of individual freedom best described as anarchist. Indian liberalism is thus also a useful reminder of the limits of liberalism as a category for comparative political thought.

Keywords: India; colonial liberalism; nationalist liberalism; radical liberalism; Macaulay; Rammohan Roy; M. G. Ranade; Jyotirao Phule; B. R. Ambekdar; comparative political thought

Chapter.  11091 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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