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Competing Nationalisms

Release date: October 25, 2021
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Rajshree Chandra is an academic, a teacher and an author. Most of her writing and research is pri... Read More

Product Description

Rajshree Chandra is an academic, a teacher and an author. Most of her writing and research is primarily at the intersection of political philosophy, law and politics. She is the author of The Cunning of Rights (2016) and Knowledge as Property (2010) and has written several research articles and political commentaries. Chandra has received the UKERI (UK-India Research Initiative) award for research collaboration, the ICSSR post-doctoral award, the Australia India Institute's ELF fellowship and the IWM (Institute of Human Sciences, Vienna) visiting fellowship. This book-a political biography of her grandfather, rendered through the prism of nationalist history-has been generously supported by the New India Foundation Fellowship.

Rajshree Chandra is professor of political science at Janki Devi Memorial College, University of Delhi, and is a senior visiting fellow at the Centre for Policy Research.

Competing Nationalisms is more than a political biography of Jagat Narain Lal-now forgotten by history, but once an influential member of the freedom movement in Bihar. As a member of the Congress and of the Hindu Mahasabha; as a Hindu nationalist who wanted to combine religion with civic virtues; as a Gandhian and an 'ascetic nationalist' seeking freedom in a political world, Jagat Narain Lal's life becomes a mirror for the times in which a mix of religiosity, spirituality and ritual could not be separated from either the social or the political field.

The book travels with Jagat Narain Lal on his journey through four pathways-Ascetic, Hindu Nationalist, Anti-Colonial and Civic nationalisms. His life and times give us a glimpse into these intersecting, contesting and mutating idioms of nationalism. There are bigger leaders, taller nationalists, more valiant fighters of freedom, but none who perhaps so tortuously embodied the many possibilities and contradictions of Indian nationalism. In his anxieties, vulnerability, negotiations and truth-telling, we glimpse Indian nationalism's own fraught relationship with questions of identity, faith and nationhood.

In leafing through her grandfather's life, page by yellowed page, Chandra presents not just his political biography but, in a sense, a personal biography of Indian nationalism as well. In Jagat Narain Lal's small story lies a bigger history of competing nationalisms, as well as a tale that
speaks to the present.

'Rajshree Chandra's fascinating book throws fresh light on the complex journey of Indian nationalism. . . Using a wide array of sources, Chandra sensitively narrates the thoughts and struggles of a passionate individual, living through intensely charged times. This richly readable book demonstrates the enormous potential of the biographical genre in illuminating wider historical trends''An extraordinary biography of a man who literally personified the tensions between the competing and conflicting strands of Indian nationalism, which are as much in contention today as they were in his time. Chandra brings to her subject the sensibility of the political theorist as she explores Jagat Narain Lal's inner conflicts, and how he negotiated and reconciled the tensions between contrary strands of nationalism in his political life and thought''A finely written history of a sacrificing patriot, gifted in Sanskrit and Persian, who was enchanted by religion's sacred character but was tempted by its political potential, and who returned to the ethic of equal rights for all in a democratic India'

'There is much to savour in Rajshree Chandra's detailed, devoted and diligent biography of her grandfather, Jagat Narain Lal, an important figure in Bihar politics in the early twentieth century. The portrait she paints is not of a giant among men-that would be a cardboard cutout of no interest at all. No, she instead tells the story of an ordinary man who finds he lives in extraordinary times; times that make him grapple with conflicting emotions and wrenching questions in himself.
'What is this thing called "nationalism"? What does it demand of him every day? How does it colour morality, faith and even sexual desire? It's Lal's lifelong struggle to face these questions head on that make him such a fascinating character, and make this such an unexpectedly compelling book'

This is an extraordinarily persuasive, rigorous and convincing account, a philosophical portrait and a gripping tale of co-existence of multiple strands of nationalisms in colonial India. Chandra's unusual biography of her grandfather qualifies to be what Stanley Wolpert in his 2010 essay said: 'biography is the finest form of history'A fine and high readable biography that shows that it was individual lives, actions and ideas that made and transformed India's political history. Through the life of her grandfather, Chandra provides novel insights on how the everyday made the exceptional happen in history. This is a fresh history of India's transition to freedom with an intimate view of the North Indian world of society and family. The contention between religious and inclusive nationalism recounted here through the life of Jagat Narain will resonate widely with readers today.

Product Details

Title: Competing Nationalisms
Author: Rajshree Chandra
SKU: BK0454406
EAN: 9780670095490
Language: English
Binding: Paperback
Release date: October 25, 2021

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