Religion and Politics in South Asia by Ali Riaz (ed.)

  • Share
  • Tweet
  • Email
  • Whatsapp
  • Linkedin
  • Print
  • January 2014
    Book Review

    In the post-colonial era, religion has emerged as a powerful political force in South Asia. The key question that emerges is: how and why did religion become this potent political ideology in the South Asian region? Aiming to find the answer to this question, Ali Riaz, along with other scholars from the region—namely Abdulkader Sinno, Amalendu Misra, Subho Basu, Farhat Haq and A.R.M. Imtiyaz—offers a comprehensive analysis of the interaction between religion and politics in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. In the introduction, Riaz opposes the essentialist view of religion being monolithic, unchanging and immutable; rather he argues that every religion is multifocal. He establishes three arguments why religion has become so powerful in South Asia. First, the interplay of religion and politics in South Asia is not an aberration; rather it has long historical antecedents. Second, the abject failure of secular liberal states in South Asia to deliver developmental goods and services has delegitimised the state and ruling blocs within which religion has appeared as an ideology of the ruling class and the masses. Finally, the appeal of religious identity is a result of ontological insecurity and existential uncertainty faced by individuals because of globalisation.