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The Political Ideas of Rabindranath Tagore: Reflections of A Public Intellectual

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Item Code: HAS333
Author: Subrata Banerjee
Publisher: Rupa Publication Pvt. Ltd.
Language: English
Edition: 2020
ISBN: 9789353338015
Pages: 257
Other Details 8.5x5.5 inch
Weight 230 gm
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Shipped to 153 countries
Shipped to 153 countries
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Book Description

Crisis and contextualism are important components of political theorizing It is an accepted fact that all crises do not lead to meaningful political theorizing, though most political theories are a product of a crisis. Usually, the responses to an unprecedented crisis are mostly restricted to helplessness or localized pamphleteering, but occasionally, it does result in significant political theorizing, as it analyses the prevailing maladies in the hope of transcending the present to a better alternative. This ability to transcend its time and place is quintessence of political theorizing. Despite this quality of transcendence, it is important to bear in mind that ideas have a context in time and place.

Rabindranath Tagore's predecessors, beginning with Raja Rammohun Roy grappled with the problem of a comatose India, as the essential ingredients of civilized existence had dried up in the eighteenth century. They dealt with the problem by focusing overwhelmingly on the social rather than the political. However, by the mid-nineteenth century, after India's First War of Independence (1857), the beginning of the British rule under the supervision of the British parliament, the establishment of the Indian Association (1876) and the Indian National Congress (INC) (1885), there was a marked shift from the social to the political. This was the time when Tagore was growing up and became politically astute as evident by his enthusiastic participation in the activities of the Hindu Mela, the annual meetings of the INC and the beginning of his reflections on varied political issues both within and outside India.

The progressive ideals of his family and its social exclusion allowed the young Tagore to imbibe the spirit of free thinking and analyse contemporary reality critically. During this phase, he was greatly impressed by Gladstonian liberalism and John Bright's brilliant oratorial skills. He became a household name by 1905, the time of Bengal partition and the Swadeshi Movement, the first mass political movement in India, largely because of his family pedigree and his literary output. His songs sustained the Swadeshi Movement and he too was personally involved with it for four months. Soon, he distanced himself from the movement because of its lack of a long-term vision of social reconstruction and nation-building.

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