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Faisal Devji, "Intimacy and Interest in Indian Political Thought"

Faisal Devji (University of Oxford), "Intimacy and Interest in Indian Political Thought"

Interest is commonly seen as the fundamental unit of liberal politics—though in a narrowly economic sense it also forms the basis of a leftist vision of history. But while there has been no dearth of interest-based action as much as analysis in modern Indian politics, its “excessive” character, whether sacrificial, idealistic or cruel, has permitted the category itself to be questioned, especially where religious relations are concerned. In this talk I shall look at how Ambedkar, Gandhi, Iqbal, Savarkar and Jinnah were part of a conversation on the apparent ‘lack’ or limitation of interest in Indian politics. For these men it was the absence of interest as a foundational category in Indian society, attributed to the fact that property did not define social relations there, that made for its violence as much as spiritualism. Their problem was either to create interests where they didn’t exist, or to dispense with them altogether