Introduction to Political Thought

Course Description: The course attempts to give an overall view of political philosophy as presented by various thinkers down through the centuries. An in-depth understanding of the many doctrines would help the participants to make-sense of the ideologies and propaganda put forward by today’s political parties.

Course Contents: 1. State: What is a State? The modern State; civil Society and the State; nation; the State of Nature; Social Contract; Utilitarianism; Liberalism; Class State and Marxism; Patriarchal State and Feminism; recent debates on the Sovereignty of the State. 2. Democracy: Definition; concept; direct participatory democracy; Liberal Democracy; objections to Democracy, Perspectives on Democracy; Indian debates on Democracy; key debates in democratic theory. 3. Citizenship: Definition and meaning; historical development of the concept; Universal Citizenship; limits of liberal citizenship; Marxist critique of Liberal Citizenship; Feminism and Citizenship; Multiculturalism and Globalization. 4. Liberalism: Classical and Contemporary; foundations of Liberalism. 5. Socialism: Historical background; the socialist alternative; principal ideas. 6. Nationalism: Meaning; the history of the idea; non-European nationalism; the future of Nationalism. 7. Secularism: definition and meaning; political secularism; establishment of religion; crisis for Secular States; Indian secularism – Is secularism a western doctrine? 8. Affirmative Action: Meaning; justice and social disadvantage; affirmative action in India; the limits of affirmative action. 9. Freedom of Speech: Definition and meaning; and the question of censorship; new dimensions of freedom of speech and expression; limitation/grounds of restrictions. 10. Rights: The concept of rights; division of rights; Human Rights; Human Rights in India; some recent debates on Rights.

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