Religion and Personal Law in Secular India

Religion and Personal Law in Secular India

A Call to Judgment
Edited by Gerald Larson
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 11/28/2001
Format: Paperback 1 figures, 1 index
ISBN: 978-0-253-21480-5
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Though a directive principle of the constitution, a uniform civil code of law has never been written or instituted in India. As a result, in matters of personal law—the segment of law concerning marriage, dowry, divorce, parentage, legitimacy, wills, and inheritance—individuals of different backgrounds must appeal to their respective religious laws for guidance or rulings. But balancing the claims of religious communities with those of a modern secular state has caused some intractable problems for India as a nation. Religion and Personal Law in Secular India provides a comprehensive look into the issues and challenges that India faces as it tries to put a uniform civil code into practice.

Contributors include Granville Austin, Robert D. Baird, Srimati Basu, Kevin Brown, Paul Courtright, Rajeev Dhavan, Marc Galanter, Namita Goswami, Laura Dudley Jenkins, Jayanth Krishnan, Gerald James Larson, John H. Mansfield, Ruma Pal, Kunal M. Parker, William D. Popkin, Lloyd I. Rudolph, Susanne Hoeber Rudolph, Sylvia Vatuk, and Arvind Verma.

Author Bio

Gerald James Larson is Rabindranath Tagore Professor of Indian Cultures and Civilization and Director of the India Studies Program at Indiana University, Bloomington. He is author of India's Agony over Religion and Classical Samkhya: An Interpretation of Its History and Meaning and co-editor of Interpreting across Boundaries: New Essays in Comparative Philosophy and The Encyclopedia of Indian Philosophies, vol. 4, Samkhya: A Dualist Tradition in Indian Philosophy.


“With no written uniform civil code of law, in matters of personal law concerning such matters as marriage, parentage, and inheritance—individuals of different religious backgrounds must appeal to their respective religious laws for guidance or rulings. These essays provide a comprehensive look into the issues and challenges that India faces as it tries to put a uniform civil code into practice. Readers seeking deeper understandings of Indian history and culture will find a sensitive handling of the tensions between religious law and the claims of a modern, secular state in this timely volume.”

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Table of Contents

Preliminary Table of Contents:
Introduction: The Secular State in a Religious Society Gerald James Larson

Part 1. The Secular State and Legal Pluralism: The Current Debate and Its Historical Antecedents
1. Religion, Personal Law and Identity Granville Austin
2. Religious Minorities and the Law Ruma Pal
3. Living with Difference in India: Legal Pluralism and Legal Universalism in Historical Context Susanne Hoeber Rudolph and Lloyd I. Rudolph

Part 2. Religious Endowments, Reservations Law, and Criminal Law
4. Religious and Charitable Endowments and a Uniform Civil Code John H. Mansfield
5. Personal Law and Reservations: Volition and Religion in Contemporary India Laura Dudley Jenkins
6. The Uniform Civil Code Debate: Lessons from the Criminal Procedures Arvind Verma

Part 3. Personal Law and Issues of Gender
7. Gender Implications for a Uniform Civil Code Robert D. Baird
8. The Personal and the Political: Indian Women and Inheritance Law Srimati Basu
9. Colonialism, Nationalism, and Gendered Legal Subjectivities: Observations on the Historical Destruction of Separate Legal Regimes Kunal M. Parker
10. Who Was Roop Kanwar? Sati, Law, Religion, and Post-Colonial Feminism in Contemporary India Paul Courtright and Namita Goswami
11. "Where Will She Go? What Will She Do?" Paternalism towards Women in the Administration of Muslim Family Law in Contemporary India Sylvia Vatuk

Part 4. Cross-Cultural Perspectives
12. Affirmative Action in the United States and the Reservation System in India: Some Comparative Perspectives Kevin Brown
13. Personal Law Systems and Religious Conflict: A Comparison of India and Israel Marc Galanter and Jayanth Krishnan
14. The Road to Xanadu: India's Quest for Secularism Rajeev Dhavan

Some Continuing Issues William D. Popkin
Bibliographical Note Gerald James Larson