Baba Amte Memorial Lecture: The Amnesias of Democracy with Nandini Sundar

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09 July 2015 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm

Prest Theatre, G06, FBE Building, 111 Barry Street, Carlton VIC 3053.

The Australia India Institute is delighted to host its second Baba Amte Memorial Lecture. Baba Amte (Murlidhar Devidas Amte, 1914-2008), was a social activist and champion of India’s lepers and outcastes. Born to a wealthy Brahmin family in Maharashtra, Amte came to be known as Baba, a nickname acquired in childhood. He trained and practised as a lawyer and became involved in the movement for Indian independence from Britain acting as a defence lawyer for leaders of the freedom movement imprisoned in the 1942 Quit India movement. 

The Amnesias of Democracy with Professor Nandini Sundar 

The 2014 national elections and the 2015 Delhi elections, both of which delivered absolute majorities, have reinforced the public notion that Indian democracy is vibrant and unique, with the capacity to reinvent the polity. In conformity with the Modi government’s performance over the past year, the media has focused on maintaining the development agenda and avoiding being sidetracked by communal issues.However, our speaker for this year’s Baba Amte Memorial Lecture, Professor Nandini Sundar, will argue that the framing of the development agenda illustrates most clearly the failures of Indian democracy. More specifically, in the context of the ongoing civil war in central India between Maoist guerillas and the Indian state, Professor Sundar will argue that far from being a palliative or alternative to insurgency, Indian democracy – both in its procedural electoral aspects, and its substantive welfare aspects – may be serving as an active tool of counterinsurgency and a means of evading accountability.


Brief Introduction: Nandini Sundar M.A., M.Phil, Ph.D.(Columbia University, NY) is Professor of Sociology. Her publications include Subalterns and Sovereigns: An Anthropological History of Bastar (2nd ed. 2007; translated in Hindi as Gunda Dhur Ki Talash Mein, 2009), and the co-authored Branching Out: Joint Forest Management in India (2001). Edited volumes include Civil War in South Asia (co-edited with Aparna Sundar, Sage 2014), Legal Grounds: Natural Resources, Identity and the Law in Jharkhand (OUP 2009), Anthropology in the East: The founders of Indian sociology and anthropology (Permanent Black 2007, co-edited). Her research interests relate to citizenship, war and counterinsurgency in South Asia, indigenous identity and politics in India, the sociology of law, and inequality. Her writings are available at Nandini Sundar