Book Review: The Argumentative Indian

Book Title: The Argumentative Indian

Author: Amartya Sen
Publication: The Penguin Group

Review by: Zulkhan Indra Putra

The Argumentative Indian. The title is seemingly quite provocative here. The book under review here is a book by an Indian origin noted scholar and Nobel laureate in economics, Amartya Sen.

Seeking to extend my knowledge of Indian history, politics, and culture, I found a solid foundation in this book, which covers India pre-history down to the modern era. With sixteen essays, this book is a useful contribution for those involved and interested in matters related to India. It highlights some important features of Indian culture, political, economic, religions, identity, and many others in the view of mr. Sen.

India is an immensely diverse country with many distinct pursuits, vastly disparate convictions, widely divergent customs and a veritable feast of viewpoints. Any attempts to talk about the culture of the country, or about its past history or contemporary politics, must inescapably involve considerable selection. I need not, therefore, labour the point that the focus on the argumentative tradition in this work is also a result of choice. It does not reflect a belief that this is the only reasonable way of thinking about the history or culture or politics of India. I am very aware that there are other ways of proceeding.”

The focus principally is on India’s long argumentative tradition, its contemporary relevance, and its relative neglect in ongoing cultural discussions. And is likely addresses the topic to understand the rigid socio-political entity of India, especially in light of the recent interest in an upbeat Indian economy and its implications for the global market.

Argumentative Tradition

Argumentative tradition is not a new habit for Indian. They do like to speak. This habit can be traced from the ancient Sanskrit epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata in which engagingly full of dialogues, masses of arguments and counterarguments that spread over incessant debates and disputations. Interestingly, in Bhagavad Gita, one small section of Mahabharata, we find a tussle between two contrary moral positions between Krishna and Arjuna. The debate occurs on the eve of the great war that is central event in the Mahabharata.

Arjuna questions whether it is right to be concerned only with one’s duty to promote just cause and be indifferent to the misery and the slaughter – even one’s kin – that the war itself would undoubtedly the cause.”

“Krishna insists on Arjuna’s duty to fight irrespective of his evaluation of the consequences. It is a just cause, and, as a warrior and a general on whom his side must rely, Arjuna cannot waver from his obligations, no matter what the consequences are.”

This conversations became an important theological importance in Hindu philosophy, focusing particularly on removal of Arjuna’s doubts. Thereof, this nature corresponds to how many Indians, we find today, fond to be involved in prolonged debate and embroil into perpetual dialogues, and would never stop until they get what they want.


~ by zulkhanip on October 4, 2010.

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