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“Prophet” Looking for a Nineteenth Century Future

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Nanda writes disparagingly of “Hindu” intellectuals––including those in the West—who try to produce alternative sciences often inspired by post‐modernism. She is unaware that many—including Einstein and Schrödinger—fit her descriptions of such “Hindu” Western prophets “facing backward” who revolutionized science by “alternative sciences”. She misreads those positions she criticizes into one anti‐science conspiracy of post‐modernism and Vedic science adherents. Her misconstructions are easy to spot Examples: Key citations on India are Western; her statements often ex‐cathedra statements. Her history is patchy, sometimes wrong. She derides social‐constructionism but turns to it when she wants it. A presumed Western leftist she quotes Daniel Bell (“End of Ideology”) approvingly. “Third Ways” and “Alternatives” between alleged Western liberalism and Marxism which she denounces are in the Western left agenda for nearly thirty years. She ignores key factors in India's predicament like low literacy. Nanda derides contemporary Hindu nationalism as a scavenger picking up from different sources. This “scavenging” however, is a sign of confidence, paralleling the attitude of Europeans during hte Renaissance and the Enlightenment. Although she claims that there are a few elements from the Indic tradition which are useful, she does not explore this except for Ambedkar Buddhism. Here she puts more emphasis on its alleged western roots than on Ambedkar's declared Buddhism. For her, Western modernity is one universal ignoring the many different trajectories different western societies have taken in their science development. She regrets the breaking down in comtemporary India of conventional boundaries between presumed right, left, progress and development. Instead of rewriting received Western wisdom to fit this real historical experience of India, she resorts to only Western conceptual categories. She damns both Indian social reality as well as attempts at fresh Indian conceptualization. For her, secularization means brainwashing the local populaton into an unashamed McCauleyite template illustrating deep feelings of insecurity about her own culture.
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Keywords: Alternative sciences; Ambedkar Buddhism; Hindu nationalism; Ideology; Intellectual history; McCauley; Post‐Colonialism; Social construction; post‐modernism; “Third Way”

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2005-01-01

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