The Truths and Lies of Nationalism as Narrated by Charvak

Edited by Partha Chatterjee
Notes by Partha Chatterjee

Subjects: India And South Asian Studies, Postcolonial Studies, Hindu Studies
Hardcover : 9781438487779, 357 pages, March 2022
Paperback : 9781438487762, 357 pages, September 2022

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Table of contents

Editor's Preface

Introduction: Charvak Speaks

1. All Nations are Modern

2. All National Borders are Accidental

3. Princes Have No Place in a Republic

4. India is Not a Hindu Rashtra

5. India is Not a Pluralist Secular Democracy

6. India is a People's Federation

7. People's Alliances Strengthen the Nation

8. The Nation Belongs to the Entire People


Rejects Hindu nationalism and pluralist secularism in favor of a revitalized politics of Indian federalism.


Written in the voice of the mythical atheist, naysayer, and general all-purpose heretic of Indian philosophy, The Truths and Lies of Nationalism as Narrated by Charvak presents a completely new way of telling the history of Indian nationalism. Severely criticizing the doctrines of both Hindu nationalism and pluralist secularism, it examines the ongoing debates over Indian civilization and recounts in detail how the present borders of India were defined by British colonial policy, the partition of 1947, and the integration of the princely states and the French and Portuguese territories. The emphasis is not so much on the state machinery inherited from colonial times but on the moral foundation of a new republic based on the solidarity of different but equal formations of the people. After a trenchant critique of the present-day conflicts over religion, caste, class, gender, language, and region in India, the book proposes a new politics of revitalized federalism. Intended for a general readership, and eschewing academic jargon, this book will be of interest to anyone concerned about the future of India.

Partha Chatterjee is Professor Emeritus of Anthropology and Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies at Columbia University, New York, and Honorary Professor of Political Science at the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta. His previous books include The Nation and Its Fragments: Colonial and Postcolonial Histories and I Am the People: Reflections on Popular Sovereignty Today.