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On the enchantment of the state: Indian thought on the role of the state in the narrative of modernity

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 February 2006

Sudipta Kaviraj
Department of Politics and International Studies, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London [].
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One of the fundamental ideational changes brought by modernity into Indian intellectual culture was the transformation in the idea of the state. From an institution that was traditionally seen as a necessarily limited and distinctly unpleasant part of the basic furniture of any society, the idea of the state has been transformed into that of a central moral force, producing an immense enchantment in India’s intellectual life. Indeed, in the Indian context, as distinct from the European one, it has been the primary source of modernity. This paper seeks to present an absurdly short history of the curious adventures of this idea. It also seeks to explain why, despite the global dominance of ideas of liberalisation, and a reduction of the state’s interference in social and economic life, in India this enchantment is still undiminished.

Research Article
2005 Archives Européenes de Sociology

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