India’s Liberal Values Wither
From Billings, Montana to Budapest, liberalism is under assault. While US President Donald Trump harangues his ecstatic base, Hungarian President Viktor Orban thrills his supporters with racist rants.
Like many anxious authors in the West, historian Rudrangshu Mukherjee (disclosure: he’s a colleague) has tried to identify what went wrong. He is especially concerned by the rise of hatred and attacks on liberal democratic values in India, once a poster child for tolerance among developing countries. This book is part history, part contemplations on the rise and then erosion of liberal ideas, individual freedom and equality before the law; Mukherjee offers a sobering analysis of what went wrong.
To start, the British harbingers of liberalism in India didn’t believe that traditional backward India was ready for the liberalism of JS Mill. Then modern India’s founders, like Jawaharlal Nehru and Mahatma Gandhi, let collective interests trump individual rights, priming the pump for serious equal-rights distortions. Nehru’s own daughter, Indira, destroyed an independent judiciary and impartial bureaucracy and imposed emergency rule. Mukherjee is shaken by the deterioration of liberal values in India and the poisonous effect spreading to the educated middle class, who should be its most natural defenders. This impassioned yet scholarly book is a witness to our times.
Mukherjee is shaken by the deterioration of liberal values in India and the poisonous effect.
Twilight Falls on LiberalismBy Rudrangshu MukherjeeAleph, 2018, 173 pages, 399 rupees (Hardcover)