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On Being Indian

On Being Indian

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Originally a talk delivered at Jamia Millia Islamia University, New Delhi, in February 2020, and then published as an essay in Social Research Quarterly the following year, On Being Indian is many things. On one level, it is a record of the various events and utterances that led up to and characterised the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act in India. On another level, it questions, and shows us the limited value of, dichotomies such as the secular and the religious. The protests were an occasion for these humanist binaries to be dismantled exuberantly, often by thinkers who emerged at the time not from academic institutions but from diverse walks of life. Part analysis, part intellectual and cultural history, part literary criticism, and part an impassioned expression of, and meditation on, what it means to ‘be Indian’, this long essay is an exploration of how such a critique might be written in a way that’s urgent but not journalistic; intellectually rigorous but not academic; political as well as imaginative.

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Amit Chaudhuri / essays / indian / nonfiction / poetry /