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2015: Swapan Dasgupta

Swapan Dasgupta: Political Conservatism in India - Old Ideology and New Politics

Narendra ModiSwapan Dasgupta delivered the second Distinguished Lecture Series at the Tagore Centre for Global Thought from 21 to 23 November 2015. The series was entitled "Political Conservatism in India: Old ideology or New Politics?"

The victory of the Narendra Modi-led BJP in the general election of May 2014 indicated a decisive rupture with India’s ‘Nehruvian consensus’ that had prevailed for six decades. The shift has been called a ‘conservative revolution’ and a development that had largely been unforeseen by those who had focussed on India’s bumpy ride to post-socialist modernity.

Over three lectures, the well-known journalist Swapan Dasgupta explored the ideological underpinnings of today’s political conservatism, its linkages with the colonial encounter, the movement for independence and the ‘right-wing’ opposition to the Congress. He attempted to locate the different strands of Indian conservatism within conservative thought in non-Indian societies and its connections with the ‘political’ Hindutva movements that emerged after the 1920s.

The lectures explored some of the recurrent concerns of conservative thinkers and politicians from the late-19th century to the present. These include the basis of Hindu civilizational decline, the ‘Muslim question’ and the battles over secularism, and India’s place in the contemporary world.

Finally, the lectures addressed the complex interaction of conservative beliefs and governance. How is political power likely to shape India’s conservative discourse in the coming years?

The programme of lectures was as follows:

23 November: How conservative is Indian conservatism?

This lecture can be viewed here.

24 November: Indian conservatism as a protest movement

This lecture can be viewed here.

25 November: Indian conservatism and the compulsions of political power

This lecture can be viewed here.

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