How Liberal Is India?

New Book Addresses State of Freedom in the Biggest Democracy on Earth
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It’s a question for political and economic analysts, and more importantly so for all those concerned about individual freedom: How liberal is India? To give an answer, the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom’s (FNF) Regional Director Dr. Ronald Meinardus has asked 17 experts to join him in a collective effort in this new book. All contributors are experts in their respective fields and have been - or are presently - associated with educative programs of the Foundation. The writers share their perspectives on various themes and facets of India’s history, politics, the economy and society with a focus on the overriding question: How liberal is India?

The essays provide insights into areas of importance for liberal governance. Taken together, the chapters give a conclusive perspective on the state of liberalism in the biggest democracy on earth.

“While India has a long way to go before she may be termed a liberal democracy, the book shows that Indian liberals have more in common than what holds them apart”, writes Meinardus in his introduction. “This, he argues, is a strong base to move ahead on the never-ending quest for more freedom for all.”

Original contributions

Setting out with the role of liberal ideas in India’s history of thought, the book answers the question to what extent Mahatma Gandhi could be termed a liberal and discusses the liberal principles of India’s constitution. Other chapters deal with the reasons for the lack of a liberal party, the state of economic freedom, the relationship between liberalism and Hinduism and the challenges of the educational system. Local autonomy – or the lack of it, the idea of justice and economic inequality, poverty alleviation and the market economy, the challenges of digital transformation, media freedom and, finally, gender politics and transgender rights are other topics the authors deal with in their original contributions. 

Published by Academic Foundation, the 250 pages book coincides with the departure of Regional Director Dr. Meinardus, who after what he terms “five fascinating years in this incredible country” is set to leave New Delhi for a new assignment. “The question ‘How liberal is India’ has always been on my mind”, he says. After editing and reading the chapters of this book multiple times, he has now found an answer, Meinardus adds with a smile.

We invite you to follow suit.

The online version of the book is available for FREE download here.

Hard copies on sale in major bookstores in India and via Academic Foundation's website.