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The Argumentative Indian: Writings on Indian History, Culture and Identity Paperback – September 5, 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“This is a book that needed to have been written. . . . It would be no surprise if it were to become as defining and influential a work as Edward Said's Orientalism.” ―Soumya Bhattacharya, The Observer (London)
“The product of a great and playful mind at the peak of its power, The Argumentative Indian is the most stimulating and enjoyable book about the idea and identity of India to be written for years.” ―William Dalrymple, The New York Review of Books
“An intellectual tour de force from an economist who can lay equal claim to the designations of sociologist, historian, political analyst, and moral philosopher . . . Breathtaking in its range and scholarly eclecticism.” ―Shashi Tharoor, The Washington Post Book World
“Masterfully tying Indian concerns to broader social and philosophical questions, Sen addresses the many aspects of Indian identity.” ―Library Journal
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Top Customer Reviews
Mr. Sen seeks to demonstrate that India is a multi-hued society of many shades and composite cultures. It is also wrongly seen as primarily a spiritual culture, as it has many other talents as well. This is quite elementary. In order to do so, he ranges over a vast number of topics, and offers extremely interesting information about a number of them. He has a typically wry sense of humor, which is rather appreciable. He also has an axe to grind, which keeps making a screeching distraction throughout.
That axe is his grudge against the hard-line Hindu politics, particularly the BJP, RSS and its assorted allies. This keeps getting in his way, and he keeps making short raids to take pot shots at them. This becomes irritating after a little while. In reality, BJP / RSS do not influence or define Indian culture to the extent that we must become obsessed with them to the point of distraction. One also finds that this grudge leads him to constantly twist arguments and facts, in order to enable him to take a better shot at his arch-enemies: BJP/RSS.Read more ›
Sen's Argumentative Indian argues against Western interpretations of India as a land of airy mysticism and religious speculation whose democratic traditions were imposed by the British; at the same time, with a firm but even hand he corrects the more recent Hindu fundamentalist view that wants to impose a narrow, `miniaturized' version of the nation that excludes the contributions of Buddhists, Muslims, Christians, Jews, and thinkers of no particular religious persuasion at all.
Sen addresses the fact that this cultural predilection for argument and debate (along with a healthy respect for opposing points of view) has done little to change the vast social inequalities in India. But his book isn't so much about looking backward as it is about finding a usable past that Indians can take pride in as they look forward to a more global future. Along the way, Sen makes a lucid and compelling case for pluralism in all its forms in a century where fundamentalisms, East and West, are sadly on the rise. Sen's India is one I think the rest of the world could learn a lot from.
Unfortunately on some topics the argument presented were shallow and/ or too opinionated. Example: Dr. Sen also took India to task for becoming a Nuclear Nation, in spite of poverty. Dr. Sen's arguments would hold water in utopian world and egalitarian society. Unfortunately in today's uni-polar world and with India's "friendly" neighbors (China & Pakistan) increasing there defense spending year after year, India was left with no choice then shield itself. Dr. Sen also mentions Bangladesh to be safer than India after Pokhran II. I wonder what he must be thinking now when after all the media reports of the blasts and terrorist activities.
To sum it up in spite of the difference of opinions on some of the contents and reasoning, this book provides excellent food for thought and coerces the reader to ponder.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This collection of essays is disappointing and in my opinion a waste of time. As other reviewers have said, Sen is obsessed with his hatred of political Hinduism or even Hinduism... Read morePublished 7 days ago by Amazon Customer
Very good but eventually becomes repetitive. Plus, I disagree with the main thesis of the book since similar 'argumentative traditions' may be found in many other regions and... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Daniel Garcia
Sen is provoking us to think seriously about India not only as a parallel cultural space to the west, but rather as having an independent development, intersecting with fundamental... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Angelus Veritatis
Enlightening and engaging at the same time heavily biased and coloured given Dr. Sen's strongly held opinions, likes and dislikes. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Twisha
I started reading this book with an unbiased mind to understand Amartya Sen's perspective. Idea was to remove blinkers and understand his view point. Read morePublished 13 months ago by neophyte
This book is a complete biased view against hindus .From the first chapter you can smell that he is going to spend the whole in anti hindu theme. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Nipon Bharali