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Liberalism as IdeologyEssays in Honour of Michael Freeden$
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Ben Jackson and Marc Stears

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199600670

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199600670.001.0001

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Liberalisms in India: A Sketch

Liberalisms in India: A Sketch

Chapter:
(p.53) 3 Liberalisms in India: A Sketch
Source:
Liberalism as Ideology
Author(s):

Rochana Bajpai

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199600670.003.0004

Indian liberalism is relatively understudied as liberalism, although liberal ideas have been examined as part of other ideological currents. This chapter explores the reasons for this neglect, and distinguishes three strands of Indian liberalisms: colonial, nationalist, and radical. Within each strand, some significant thinkers are discussed: Cornwallis and Macaulay in colonial liberalism; Rammohan Roy and M. G. Ranade in nationalist liberalism; Jyotirao Phule and B. R. Ambekdar in radical liberalism. While these three liberalisms have clashed politically, important ideological similarities can be found, in particular, a strong belief in the state as the agent of liberal reform, and recognition of group-differentiated rights. Liberalism has been more prevalent in India than is commonly believed; however, strong liberalisms are weakly articulated, with many sophisticated thinkers of individual freedom best described as anarchist. Indian liberalism is thus also a useful reminder of the limits of liberalism as a category for comparative political thought.

Keywords:   India, colonial liberalism, nationalist liberalism, radical liberalism, Macaulay, Rammohan Roy, M. G. Ranade, Jyotirao Phule, B. R. Ambekdar, comparative political thought

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