x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Righteous Republic: perceptions of how India should be governed

In her book on how India should be governed, Ananya Vajpeyl examines the teachings of five of India's most important founding figures, including Mohandas Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru.

Righteous Republic
Ananya Vajpeyi
Harvard University Press

Swaraj: a word pervasive in the Indian philological lexicon, originating from the Sanskrit swa, meaning "of the self", and rajya - rule. The matter of deciding its true meaning from the combination of its two root verbs should be simple and yet, as Ananya Vajpeyi reveals in her first book on modern India's political foundations, it all depends on different perceptions of national duty.

Vajpeyi's unique spin on the topic has her examining the classical sources of inspiration behind the teachings of five of India's most significant founding figures: Mohandas Gandhi, Rabindranath Tagore, his nephew Abanindranath Tagore, Jawaharlal Nehru, and BR Ambedkar. The "righteous republic" based on self-rule, under Vajpeyi's close study, divulges its interwoven web mixing Sanskrit poetry, Buddhist teachings, the legacies of the Emperor Ashoka and Mughal dynasties of the past, and even the Bhagavad Gita, each having played a key role in shaping the political visions of these icons.

Despite confessing to the self-perceived inadequacy of her completed work in her conclusion, there is scarcely a fault regarding the author's zest for the subject, a plus point that proves effective in rousing this reader's own interest.