Historian Romila Thapar Explores History Of Dissent In Her New Book

Romila Thapar will come out with a historical essay next month, exploring dissent, including its articulation and public response to its particular forms, with a special focus on recent protests in the country. Penguin Random House India and Seagull Books have come together to publish the book titled “Voices of Dissent”. The book will be available in stores from October 19.

Dissent has a long history in the subcontinent, even if its forms have evolved or changed through the centuries. Thapar, in her book,  looks at the articulation of dissent, focusing on nonviolent forms, that which is so essential to all societies, and relates it to various moments of time and in varying contexts as part of the Indian historical experience, the publishers said.

Beginning with Vedic times, she takes readers from the second to the first millennium BC, to the emergence of groups that were jointly called the Shramanas – the Jains, Buddhists, and Ajivikas. She explores the views of some Bhakti saints and others of the 15th and 16th centuries and brings the readers to a major moment of dissent that helped to establish a free and democratic India: Mahatma Gandhi’s satyagraha.

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In her argument, she emphasizes the use of the idiom of religion as reflecting social change, ending with the eventual politicization of religion in the present. She also highlights the public response to particular forms of dissent. She places in context the recent protests against the citizenship law and the National Register of Citizens.

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