Saarang Narayan

Profile

Born and brought up in Delhi in a diverse family of musicians, theatre artists, and teachers, I completed my B.A. in History (Honours) from Hans Raj College, University of Delhi in 2016 with a first-class degree. Four of my research papers written during the undergraduate degree were published in a digital peer-reviewed journal for undergraduate students. I also established a philosophy and political theory reading group at Hans Raj College, University of Delhi, and was editor-in-chief of the Undergraduate Journal of History for the college in 2015-2016. Subsequently, I went on to do an M.St. in Modern South Asian Studies from the University of Oxford under Dr. Faisal Devji's supervision. My Master's thesis focused on the relationship between Liberal Democracy in India and Hindu Nationalism, arguing that the later is not antagonistic or rejecting the former. While at Oxford, I also worked under Dr. Imre Bangha, learning Brajbhasha, and received training in translation from Urdu and Hindi into English. Apart from Hindi and Urdu, I also have translational skills in Punjabi and its dialects.

I have been working as a Research Assistant with Dr. David Priestland on his ongoing project on market liberalism and political culture. As part of this project, I have looked at newspapers, magazines, interviews, manifestos, and other publications from various political organisations regarding the attitudes of various groups, with special reference to the Hindu Nationalists, towards Globalisation and the Liberalisation policies of the Indian government(s).

Research interests

My research attempts to answer the question, what facets of Hindu Nationalism are represented through the idea swadeshi? The central concern of my research is examining what swadeshi means to the Hindu Right, and how it can be seen as a central theme in Hindu Nationalism in postcolonial India from the 1950s to the late 1990s and early 2000s. The term swadeshi, literally meaning “of one’s own country”, “domestic”, or "homemade" has been ever-present in Indian public discourse. It was in the early 20th century that the idea and slogan of swadeshi entered the popular politics of anti-imperialism. Its invocation, however, has not been restricted to the Congress. The right-wing has openly adopted swadeshi and has, in fact, used it against the Congress. 

I expect broadly to investigate swadeshi along four themes – nation-making, (re)locating tradition, criticising ‘Western Modernity’, and anxiety in the face of global capital. Although these facets may seem to be shaped as more of a weltpolitik, I try to demonstrate through an intellectual history of swadeshi in postcolonial India how this outlook is constantly reflected in the everyday politics of Hindu Nationalism on questions of the cow, “development”, national security, cultural censorship, and so on. Current scholarship on Hindu Nationalism either has no analysis of swadeshi or attempts to explain swadeshi-ists as some sort of an older antagonistic ideological faction within the larger Sangh Parivar. Most scholars tend to argue that the project of swadeshi is not important for the BJP anymore. However, I hope to establish swadeshi as not an economic idea as such, but as a larger intellectual framework that governs the ideological terrains of Hindu Nationalism, and thus continues to hold sway over how Hindu Nationalism thinks.

Qualifications

  • M.St. in Modern South Asian Studies; University of Oxford; 2016-17
  • B.A. in History (Honours); University of Delhi; 2013-2016