The Argumentative Indian Summary

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Book review – the argumentative Indian by Amartya Sen

It takes courage and defiance for a person still learning, to select a work from celebrated author like Mr. Amartya Sen, and accept that one might even require to criticize the work, based on one’s limited yet very personal understanding of it. Even so I was able to gather the courage because the content of ‘The Argumentative Indian’, is so profound, stimulating and overarching, that it compelled me to go beyond a simple reading.
Mr. Sen is looking at the History, Identity and culture of India through the lenses of contradictions that have been part of literature, religion, gender conceptions and society the nation. He organizes his study in four sections, dealing with ‘Voice and Heterodoxy’,
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Amartya Sen might be focusing too much on the religious part, which is great but too narrow a view to even touch the tip of gigantic civilization of India. But as we move forward ‘Gargi’; the female intellectual, ‘Draupadi’; the Mahabharata queen and ‘Rani Laxmi Bai’; who fought the first ‘war of independence’ get mentioned, and we realize that a prolific intellect like Amartya Sen could not have limited himself to one-dimensional study . He presents that argumentation is as much a characteristic of disadvantaged Indian as it is of an elite. He solidifies his argument by mentioning religious movements of Buddhism, Jainism and caste movements for equality. While such an argument is very valid, the proportion of these voices has been abysmally low, and hence one would rather count them as exceptions than recurring themes.
He goes on to celebrate the tolerance and diversity of India through usage of panoramic verses from Meghdutam, Mricchakatikam and Mudraraksam of Kalidasa. (pg 19) He explores Akbar’s ‘Din-e-Ilahi’ and Ashoka’s great peace missions to establish how secularism flourished in India despite struggled history. These themes and names are great examples in establishing his point about divergent Indian, but their multiple repetition ends up emphasizing on dearth of examples, thereby giving contradictory

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