Understanding Religious Conception of Community: British Colonial Legacy
Shefali Jha
INDIA’S COMMUNAL CONSTITUTION: LAW, RELIGION AND THE MAKING OF A PEOPLE by By Mathew John Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2023, 147 pp., INR 995.00
June 2024, volume 48, No 6

It is refreshing to read a book in which the author comes straight to the point and the structure of the work is clearly laid out. All chapters of this book are organized around three moments from recent Indian history: the colonial moment, the constitutional moment, and the moment of independent India’s judicial practice. The domain in which these three moments are traversed is made up of four issues, with each of the four chapters being devoted to one issue. The first chapter discusses the role played by British colonialists in constructing religious identity in India, followed by an analysis of how this religious identity was defined during the framing of the Indian Constitution, and then through judicial interpretation in independent India. Similarly, in the second chapter, the development of personal laws in India is traced through these three stages. The third chapter examines how minority rights were and are understood in India, and the fourth chapter is on the construction of caste in India through these three moments. This ensuing grid of 12 different components brings us to the central argument of the book:

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