Social Scientist. v 18, no. 203 (April 1990) p. 1.


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Editorial

As caste and communal tensions threaten to consume the progressive strand in India's nation-building process, it is becoming clear that the hegemonic elements in the ideological superstructure in post-Independence India had never sought to make that break with traditionalism and religiousity necessary to provide the foundation for a secular republic consisting of a multi-religious and ethnically and culturally diverse population. This, in fact, is1 not purely a post-Independence phenomenon, according to K.M. Panikkar, who analyses the problem in the lead article in this issue. Rather, there has never been any simultaneity in political and cultural advance even during the pre-colonial and colonial periods, because of the lack of any integration between political and cultural struggles, and a consequent intrusion of culture into politics. Instead of politics transforming backward culture, politics was vitiated by cultural intrusion. The fall-out of that history, especially in the present political context, when the dominant elements in India's political and economic structures are gearing up to fabricate a blatantly communal ideological superstructure through the use of the apparatus of state at their command, makes the domain of culture the principal arena for the battle for the minds of men. But such a battle requires an understanding of why, despite the winds of modernization that have swept the country over the last three centuries, many layers of backward culture still mar the understanding of man and his project. Panikkar's article is a survey of the issues that must be confronted in the course of approaching that understanding.

The first of these issues is the fact that the effort during the colonial period to bring religion within the critique of reason, that began with Ram Mohan Roy's work in the early 19th century, remained incomplete. There were clearly two strands to that effort which was continued by many other thinkers of the time: first, the critique of religion as a mechanism to preserve and regulate the prevailing property and social relations and therefore the role of religious systems as systems of social deception; and second, the extension of the application of rationality to religion to all natural and social phenomena, so that social issues were decided not by religious faith and social sanction.

However, Panikkar argues, though unlike the reform movements in the precolonial period, religious reform in colonial India was



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