06 January 2009

Samuel Huntington and Hindutva

Samuel Huntington, author of Clash of Civilisations (1996), is no more. Before reading his book I had been interested only in philosophy, and not in religion. Some snobbery was at work here: 'high-brow' philosophy vs 'low-brow' religion. But Clash of Civilisations powerfully brought home the importance of religion in today's world. I realised I had some catching up to do. I re-read the Bhagavad Gita and read the Quran. I also brought a Bible from home, but didn't make much progress with it.

Samuel Huntington's achievement was to remind people that our world is made up of civilisations – civilisations based on specific religions/cultures. His book was an important blow against secularists and multi-culturalists. He correctly identified India as a Hindu civilisation. Not that Hindutva needs an endorsement from a foreign scholar. But some Indians accept the truth about their country only when it is stated by a Westerner, especially an American.

PS: "Clash of Civilisations" has an interesting history. In 1989 – the year the Berlin Wall fell – Francis Fukuyama (a student of Huntington) wrote an article in the National Interest called "End of History". The article argued that history had ended with the triumph of free-market democracy. 3 years later he expanded his article into a book of the same name. The next year his teacher wrote an article in Foreign Affairs called "Clash of Civilisations". It argued that history was far from over, and that religion/culture would play a central role in the post-ideological world. The article provoked a lot of controversy and debate. 3 years later Huntington expanded his article into a book of the same name.

1 comment:

DEEPAK said...

Love your blog, Dheeru..Please keep writing!!!