ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Indian Democracy, Positively Viewed

Culture and Rationality: The Politics of Social Change in PostColonial India by Subrata K Mitra; Sage Publications, New Delhi, 1999; Rs 525, pp 438.

The Indian scholar inherits an intellectual tradition that is a pot-pourri of diverse and distinct scholarly approaches. And as a student, one is rarely conscious of the fine historical delineations which lace what many of us perceive broadly as ‘Euro-American’ or simply ‘western’ perspectives. That is one of the many reasons why Subrata K Mitra’s collection of essays written between 1977 and 1998 is so useful.

In his preface he outlines the various methodological influences on his work, which were shaped by his conversations with students and colleagues in the US, England and Germany and reveals how they helped him change his arguments and perceptions. He is extremely aware of the specific intellectual traditions influencing the different theoretical strands interwoven in his commentaries and is careful not to generalise or universalise his position without qualification. His essays may be persuasive or flawed, illuminating or limited from different points of view but they are undeniably rigorous. And always surrounded by an aura of methodological and theoretical reflexivity, making his book required reading for students of sociology and political science, not only for his insights on social change in post-colonial India, but for the scholarly finesse with which he articulates them.

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