Globalization, Hindutva and the Mandal agitation have transformed our social landscape over the last two decades and confronted us with new problems and possibilities. This book seeks to critically re-examine what popular common sense tells us about these and contemporary concerns. Why are we so eager to claim modernity in some contexts and so anxious to disown it in others? How does the economy come to rival religion and history as a source of national identity? Where does the moral legitimacy of the middle class come from? What makes caste such a controversial criterion for public policy? Has globalization made regions irrelevant? These are some of the questions that Deshpande explores here.
Grounded in sociology but drawing upon recent developments in the other social sciences as well as national data on economic inequality, Deshpande analyses five select themes and the routes to understanding themthe strange mixture of anxiety and ambivalence that modernity provokes in India; the shaping of the nation by the ideologies of Hindutva and development; the pivotal role of the middle class in independent India; the relative invisibility of caste inequality despite the public prominence of caste; and the uneven impact of globalization on the geography of cultural regions.
While the book is specially written for the general reader interested in going beyond common sense, Deshpandes fresh approach also makes it a must read for teachers and students of sociology and other social sciences.