Ram Madhav
May 4, 2020

The Indian Conservative – A History of Indian Right Wing thought

Author: Jaithirth Rao

The Indian Conservative is doubtless the first of its kind Indian book on the topic authored by eminent tech-entrepreneur and author Jaithirth Rao. It is a monologue essentially in a ‘discursive, anecdotal, conversational and elliptic’ style as the author puts it. Rich in information, this book about Indian conservatism gives the nationalist individuals and scholars a lot of confidence that after all theirs is a valuable thought process. It helps in overcoming the psychological impact of the Liberal’ attacks on Indian nationalist school branding them as thoughtless morons living in a bygone era. That bygone era of India is not something to loath, but to be proud of, insists Jaithirth Rao, comparing it with the history of European conservatism.

While I strongly recommend this book as an essential reading material for thinking people on the right and left, I still feel that any effort to ideologically straightjacket Indian reality into an essentially western construct of conservatism and liberalism will end up in doctrinal confusion only. Both these western constructs go hand-in-hand here. An economic conservative can be an environment liberal. The author too points out this unique dilemma on occasions in the book. For example, between a Gandhi and a Savarkar, who could be called a liberal and who a conservative. Many such dilemmas arise while going through the book.

One more thing that struck me, especially after reading some good books authored by contemporary conservative scholars in the west challenging liberal dogmas, was that this book is more about a conservative than about conservatism per se. It is a good book for beginners on the topic. There is a need for more profound works with solid conservative ideological contestations of the liberal brouhaha in India in particular and in the East in general. Hope Jaithirth Rao’s book inspires more scholars to come out with such works.

An excellent bonus is a list of publications the author provides as a ‘guide for further reading’.

Published by Ram Madhav

Member, Board of Governors, India Foundation

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