For the major part of the 20th century, the concepts of individual liberty and social justice have been viewed as being mutually exclusive. However, John Rawls’ Theory of Justice (1971) radically altered this perspective by providing the most elaborate example of the coexistence of liberty and egalitarian principles. The first principle of his theory refers to liberty while the second principle (pertaining to social justice) consists of fair equality of opportunity and the difference principle. Secularism, Democracy, Justice undertakes the difficult, yet challenging, task of applying these Rawlsian principles to four major areas—secularism, democracy, social justice, and agency—in Indian context. Relying largely on the Kantian notions of rationality and universality, Nalini Rajan combines a philosophical analysis of the Rawlsian framework with a defense of certain kinds of state policies. Within these four major areas, she discusses secularism and the rationale for a uniform civil code; the necessity for greater democratic participation as well as its limits; the importance of positive discrimination to combat social backwardness; and the role of self and of universality in realizing human agency. While the issues raised are riddled with practical and theoretical difficulties, this book effectively seeks answers to some of the major problems plaguing fragile institutions like secularism, democracy, and social justice.
IntroductionPART ONE: SECULARISMGandhi and PostmodernismThe Principles of AutonomyIs There a Case for a Uniform Civil Code?PART TWO: DEMOCRACYRole of the StateLimits to DemocracyPART THREE: SOCIAL JUSTICEBeyond WelfarismJustice as ImpartialityPART FOUR: AGENCYDealing with PluralismConclusion