India today is more than ever important to understand. Its population stands at well over a billion people, second only to China. It is the most successful continuous experiment in parliamentary democracy of all the nations that won their independence from colonial rule in the middle of the twentieth century. India has every reason to be proud of its continuous record of democratic governance, but India still has monumental problems, reflected in its dismal literacy rates, its severe levels of urban and rural poverty, and its poor infrastructure. The essays in this special issue of Social Research cast light on the paradox of freedom without equity, though they were not commissioned with this question in mind. Each essay points to the ways India builds on its deep cultural resources to construct its multiple modernities. Yet modernity brings its own troubles-to bodies, minds, and institutions. We might say, paraphrasing Tolstoy, that in a world of multiple modernities, every modern society is unhappy in its own way. India's achievements are not easy to disentangle from its unhappinesses. These essays show us why this is so. They ought to be required reading for all those who stand ready to offer solutions to India's problems today.


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