A New Caste War: The End of a Tradition
This book is about . . . people working their butts off and cooperating and squabbling and struggling to survive. [It also is] about the West's tendency to misperceive India, to downgrade and underestimate and stereotype the population. The fact is that it's impossible to write about India without confronting head-on the narrowness and self-servingness of some of our lingering colonial assumptions about the nature of Indian society. . . . This is the kind of thing we're up against: the systematic reduction of living human beings to things. If we want to retain any semblance of morality, we have to fight this tendency.
Robert Bohm ( 1982: 3-4)
India's antiquity, present, and future--as well as folklore and human reality--bubble with the romance of life--its rituals, humanity, strife, and violence. The ideological spectrum, from the deep red Left to the saffron/green Right, is pervaded by a hierarchial religious-caste order that defines the ubiquity and pointlessness of existential forces. The remains of democracy in post-feudal India represent the undying legacy of "casteism" and colonialism that sustains the pulse of a dying tradition. Liberated people need the balmy freedom of democratic institutions. However, societal atavism tends to engulf benign expectations, and stark realities continue to perpetuate the seeds of Hindu acedia and decadence.
The current Indian drama is being played out in a temporal ghetto without a sense of the past or future. However, there is a unique pattern in the continuity of a disorder. South Asian stability and chaos emanate from the subcontinental cacophony of diverse political interests and a mystified culture of religious ethos. India's diversity--a daunting challenge to democracy and secularism--is a cause and consequence of an age-old conflict between the Hindu psyche and the Hindu Creed--a dilemma that