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Decolonizing Democracy

Transforming the Social Contract in India

By Christine Keating

Publication Year: 2011

Published by: Penn State University Press

Front Cover

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Title Page

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Table of Contents

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pp. vii-ix

I was very lucky to have been a part of three exciting political projects while I was writing this book, projects that have given me both a deep sense of hope in the possibility of political, social, and economic change and the opportunity to experience the joy of being a part of such change. First, I would like to thank my fellow collective members, past and present, of La Escuela Popular Norteña, a popular education ...

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Introduction: Decolonizing Democracy

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pp. 1-17

December 9, 1946, was an extraordinary day in the history of democracy. On that day, Indian delegates to the Constituent Assembly, the body convened to frame a new constitution for an India free from British colonial rule, met for the first time. The task before the Constituent Assembly, as the future prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru declared in his opening ...

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Chapter 1 Fraternalist and Paternalist Approaches to Colonial Rule

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pp. 18-36

In Liberalism and Empire, Uday Mehta looks at the question of why liberal champions of freedom, equality, and consent within Europe supported, and sometimes even applauded, coercive rule in the colonies. To help explain the apparent paradox at work here, Mehta identifies a paternalist strain in liberal thought that allows for empire. Mehta observes that although it is an axiom ...

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Chapter 2 Resistant Convergences: Anticolonial Feminist Nationalism

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pp. 37-58

With the emergence of the struggle for Indian independance, various coalitions challenged the logic of both paternalist and fraternalist approaches to Britain’s rule in India. While the previous chapter explored several of the alliances that were crucial to the generation and maintenance of colonial rule, this chapter investigates some of the coalitions that contributed to its displacement. Key among these were nationalist and feminist groups ...

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Chapter 3 Framing the Postcolonial Social Contract

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pp. 59-76

In his opening speech to the Constituent Assembly, the nationalist leader and future prime minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru articulated what he saw as the Assembly’s task in its framing of a new constitution for India: the forging of a new, more inclusive model of democracy.1 Such a democracy would abolish discrimination on the basis of sex, race, religion, and caste, and would not only benefit its own citizenry but stand as a model for ...

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Chapter 4 Challenging Political Marginalization: The Women’s Reservation Bill

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pp. 77-91

In the closing days of the Constituent Assembly, delegate Rohini Kumar Chaudhuri proposed a provision to the constitution that would ensure “protection from women,” arguing that this was necessary because “in every sphere of life they [women] are now trying to elbow us out. In the offices, in the legislatures, in the embassies, in everything they try to elbow us out. . . . If the feelings of man are such that he should push them forward I would ...

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Chapter 5 Legal Pluralism and Gender Justice

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pp. 92-107

In 1951, in a heated debate over Hindu law reform in newly independent India, B. R. Ambedkar, who had become the new government’s first law minister, urged his fellow legislators to reform Hindu marriage law in a way that was congruent with the goals of liberty and equality. “If you mean to give liberty—and you cannot deny that liberty in view of the fact that ...

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Conclusion: Building a Nondomination Contract

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pp. 108-120

In their efforts toward legal equality and an inclusive political sphere, feminist and other progressive activists have both drawn upon and advanced the Indian framers’ promise to build “the fullest” democracy in India and have worked to resolve the postcolonial social contract’s contradictions in a liberatory direction. In addition to challenging gender, caste, and minority group subordination in the Indian polity, their approaches to social justice ...


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pp. 121-131


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pp. 133-142


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pp. 143-155

Back Cover

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p. 168-168

E-ISBN-13: 9780271052274
Print-ISBN-13: 9780271048635

Publication Year: 2011