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An American who flies the Indian flag

June 19, 2007
Martha C Nussbaum will tell you that the only flag she keeps in her home in Chicago is the Indian Tricolour. A Distinguished Professor of Law and Ethics, she is involved with the Department of Philosophy, Law School and the Divinity School at the University of Chicago.

Her involvement with India is quite substantial. Nussbaum is the author of The Clash Within: Democracy, Religious Violence, and India's Future published recently by the Harvard University Press.

The book seeks to point out to Americans that while America is focused on religious militancy and terrorism in the Middle East, democracy has been under siege from religious extremists in another part of the world.

Throughout the book, Nussbaum challenges the vision of those who want to create a homogeneous India, and she bemoans the threat to the legacies of Rabindranath Tagore, Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharal Nehru.

The author of a new book on religious freedom in India recently spoke to Rediff India Abroad Managing Editor (Features) Arthur J Pais.

You have dedicated this book to Amita Sen. Tell us about her.

To readers she might be best known as the mother of (the Nobel Laureate) Amartya Sen but I don't think of her in that way only. She was one of Rabindranath Tagore's leading pupils. She had leading roles in the dance dramas in his school in Shantiniketan.

Then later in her life she wrote two very interesting books about the school. One of them has been translated into English, under the title Joy In All Work. It talks about the role of the arts in the school.

So, to me, she was a wonderful expression all through her life, of 92 years, of the spirit of Shantiniketan; a spirit that was not only alive, critical, participatory, and democratic but also involving the imagination and the arts, very centrally in the development of children.

First published in India Abroad

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