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Tradition Of Modernity – Editorial Opinion – The Times of India


However, civilisations are not static … How this took place over millennia in what appears to be vastly different societies in the geographical area now known as India requires investigation if only because we appear to be uncommonly gifted as a culture to take on board new ideas and adapt to them.

Modern India needs to be understood in terms of civilisation because the development of our state is unparalleled. As Sen noted, in Europe the state came first and then coerced peoples into a sense of national identity. It was the opposite in India where our ancestors developed a sense of Indianness and then a state to manage it. Such developments are inexplicable quandaries to those reared on dualistic European concepts. They only become explicable if we abandon foreign categories and recognise the very modern sensibilities of our traditions and how they came about by studying India as a civilisation evolving over the long duration.

Unlike China’s, our history has been broken up and disconnected from us by scholars raised on dualistic European categories. A civilisational approach to Indian history exposes the undercurrents connecting historical ages. Embedded in them are categories and concerns guiding our democratic masses. Inimical to our intellectuals, they might wrestle with them. But the clash is worth the discoveries to be made. (via Tradition Of Modernity – Editorial Opinion – The Times of India).

Some parts of this article are nice – and the bits about ‘abandon foreign categories’ or the gem when he identifies “scholars raised on dualistic European categories’. Of course, his statement about “vastly different societies in the geographical area now known as India” deserves lengthy rebuttal.”

Some other pitfalls of revolve around the fact that attempts to capture India on Western photographic films usually gives a ‘discolored’ picture. That is why Kodak had to create the ‘Eastmancolor’ film for shooting Indian films.

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