ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The State of the Science of Politics in Contemporary India

ICSSR Research Surveys and Explorations: Political Science edited by Achin Vanaik (4 Volumes), New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2013;₹3,995 (4-volume set).

The Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR) under Javeed Alam’s chairmanship undertook an ambitious project of surveying and exploring the state of research in political science in India from 2003 till 2009. It is a bold departure from earlier surveys of research. Achin Vanaik is the general editor of this four-volume set, which addresses the Indian state, democracy, political thought and India’s engagement with the world. Vanaik in his introduction to the project lays down its distinctiveness in three ways. First, this survey contextualises the literature; second, future research directions are indicated; and finally, the personal stamp of the reviewers in terms of their personal preferences and positions are put forth.

Vanaik sums up the general thrust of research in political sciences as surveyed in all the four volumes as “the search for an Indian distinctiveness” (p xiii). Of course, he qualifies this by stating that the “Indian” is not always to be seen as a mere synonym for the “national.” The other feature following from this “search” is the theoretical and conceptual breaks and innovations to produce a theory, which is also distinctively Indian. A critical engagement with Western categories has emerged out of this search, especially under the influence of post-positivist approaches.

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