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April 07 , 2011

Gandhi's Conscience Keeper

C. Rajagopalachari and Indian Politics


Hailed by Mahatma Gandhi as his conscience keeper, Chakravarti Rajagopalachari (18781972; better known as Rajaji) epitomized the practical wisdom, religious tolerance, and statesmanship that Gandhi brought to the nationalist movement. He articulated how Gandhis ideas and practices could be reconciled with the needs and aspirations of a modern nation-state. His political and philosophical positions were argued in a manner, and with an ideological orientation, strikingly different from that of Jawaharlal Nehru. And yet Rajaji remains virtually unknown today. Vasanthi Srinivasan presents Rajajis vision as that of a theocentric liberal. She argues that he tried to temper majoritarian democracy with statesmanship, a free economy with civic virtue, realistic patriotism with genuine internationalism, and secularism with a religiosity derived from the Hindu epics. Examining his political ideas and actions alongside his literary works, as well as in relation to statesmen-ideologues such as Nehru and Periyar, she shows how Rajaji steered clear of ideological dogma and charted an ethic of responsibility. This book will interest general readers as much as scholars of Gandhi, political theory, and Indian politics
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