The Colours of Nationalism



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The second in the series of Nandita Haskar’s introspective memoirs, The Colours of Nationalism is the story of an Indian human rights lawyer’s journey to discover India. Born to a privileged upper-caste and upper-class family, her human rights work takes her to the remote corners of the country, and in the process, she discovers how her fellow citizens, across religions, ethnicities, classes and castes, experience India. She meets and works with Nagas under virtual army rule, minorities living in fear of violence, Adivasis in mineral-rich lands living in destitution, skilled and patriotic public sector workers demonized for inefficiency, women—urban, rural, rich and poor—crushed by patriarchy.

Born in 1954, Nandita grows up imbibing the promise of the socialist Nehruvian vision for India—a developed nation of equals. But her encounters with the people of the country force her to question some of its assumptions. From resisting the saffron of the Hindu Right to experiencing the various shades of red on the Left, her quest for finding India even leads her to embrace identity politics for a time. And yet, through it all, she returns to a deeper understanding of a wider vision of the nation, one which embraces its diversity and is uncompromising of the commitments of the Constitution.

The author of more than twenty books documenting voices that are seldom heard—migrant and trade union workers, Adivasis living in remote areas, Kashmiri militants and Naga nationalists—Nandita Haksar has written a deeply personal account of her life which is simultaneously an illuminating story of the other Indias, without which our nationalism is incomplete.

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