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Thursday, April 20, 2006

"I am Plural" and "Plural Monoculturalism"

I read a wonderful interview of Amartya Sen in the April 16th, 2006 edition of "The Week". His thoughts and ideas are amazingly lucid, and hard hitting. This interview is a must read, and, I believe, his new book "Identity and Violence:The illusion of Destiny" must be too.

He defines a new term, plural monoculturalism, as having two or more styles or traditions coexisting side by side, without the twain meeting at all. He goes on to give the example of Britain today as a loose federation of different cultures or different religions.

Listen to this:

You can have strong religious faith, without it being brought into politics, or you can have very weak religious faith, but make great sectarian politics out if it. They are two sides of the same coin. Jinnah may have drunk whisky and eaten pork, but he certainly was a great spokesman for the anti-secular politics of India at that time. Mahatma Gandhi was certain very religious, but at the same time, a staunch defender of a secular, non-separatist India. These are both examples which show that strong religiosity and strong use of religion in politics are not the same thing at all.

In fact, much used terms like "moderate Muslim" reflects complete confusion, because you are confusing their moderation in religious practice with moderation in political practice. A person can be a very devoted Muslim, but at the same time very liberal in politics. Abdul Kalam Azad is one of many such examples.

Be sure to pick up The Week and read the full interview. Unfortunately, I could not find this interview online.

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