Jyotirmaya Sharma

Professor of Political Science, University of Hyderabad, India.

His recent publications include, The Ocean of Mirth: Reading Hāsyārṇava-Prahasanaṁ Of Jagadēśvara Bhaṭṭāchārya, a Political Satire for All Times (Routledge, London & New York, 2019); A Restatement of Religion: Swami Vivekananda and the Making of Hindu Nationalism (Yale University Press, New Haven & London, 2013); Hindutva: Exploring the Idea of Hindu Nationalism (Context, Chennai, 2019 edition); M.S. Golwalkar, the RSS and India (Context, Chennai, 2019 edition).  

Research Project

In her book, Ordinary Vices, Judith Shklar has argued that apart from the inherent challenges that are familiar to political theorists, liberalism demands protection from certain vices that threaten contradictions, complexity, diversity and freedom. She ranks cruelty to be one of the most debilitating factors that can thwart liberalism but can also produce for the citizens a state of material comfort, one that lacks political responsibility as also the absence of remorse for the loss of freedom. If it is possible to speak of `ordinary vices’ in the European/Western context that vitiate the patience and self-restraint so essential for a liberal polity, it ought to be perfectly possible to speak of `ordinary vices’ in other contexts, and, specifically in the Indian case. In the absence of such factors as the distinction between the public and the private, the good citizen and the good man, immoral politics and moral privacy in the Indian social and historical context, it is still possible to draw a list of ordinary vices, or, rather, extraordinary vices, in order to demonstrate the fragility of the liberal democratic ethos inherited from Europe and its extraordinarily uneven unfolding in India in the past seventy years. In fact, these vices come in the way of any sustained framework of liberal democracy surviving in the Indian context.