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T.K. Oommen

This has reference to the review of my book: Crisis and Contention in Indian Society, published in your esteemed journal (vol. XXX, No.7, July 2006) by T.N. Madan. I thank Professor Madan profusely for reviewing the book and The Book Review for publishing the review. I want to make the following clarifications.     One, the book was published in 2005 and not in 2006. Two, although Madan finds the expression Union of Indian States (UIS) quaint, let it be noted that it is a constitutional expression. The first sentence of the Constitution of India reads: ‘India, that is Bharat, shall be a Union of States’. The states under reference being Indian states I thought the expression UIS is admissible. Three, I completely agree with Madan that modernity (and globality too) is destructive of diversity. But there is an element of voluntariness in processes such as modernization and globalization and the ‘destructions of diversity’ caused by them often occurs unobtrusively. In contrast, the institution of nation-state and the ideology of cultural monism consciously intend to destroy cultural diversity. And I was not simply listing the factors which destroy diversity but highlighting the ruthlessness of nation-state and cultural monism. Four, the notion of secularism is a contentious one and professor Madan has done pioneering work on the theme with special reference to India. My purpose in this book is not to debate the conceptual contours of secularism (which I have done elsewhere) but to understand whether the Indian state is adhering to the version of secularism which it is constitutionally mandated to follow. To evaluate the performance of the Indian state based on the western version of secularism is pointless. Five, in commenting on my plea for a second reorganization of Indian states Madan writes: ‘He does not go into the economic costs and administrative viability of small states’ (p.26). But this is not correct. I have written on p.151: ‘in conceding the demands for new states, factors such as viable size (population and territory), financial sustainability and regional-cultural specificity-should also be taken into account. In this context not only the fission of the existing units but also their fusion may be thought of’. My basic argument is that a broad and rough co-terminality between political-administrative units (panchayats, districts, regional councils, provincial states) and linguistic units is desirable. If there are ‘encysted speech groups’, to recall Madan’s phrase, whose language/dialect are different from ...

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