Ashis Nandy

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Ashis Nandy
Prof. Nandy receiving Fukuoka Asian Culture Prize in 2007, Japan
Prof. Nandy receiving Fukuoka Asian Culture Prize in 2007, Japan
Born (1937-05-13) 13 May 1937 (age 85)[1]
Bhagalpur, Bihar, British India
Occupationpolitical psychologist, social theorist, Former Director of CSDS Delhi
Alma materGujarat University (PhD)
SpouseUma Nandy
ChildrenAditi (daughter)
RelativesPritish Nandy and Manish Nandy
Academic background
ThesisRole of a Valued Object in Personality: a Clinical Psychological Study of Money (1967)
Doctoral advisorP. H. Prabhu
Academic work
Doctoral studentsTridip Suhrud

Ashis Nandy (Bengali: আশিস নন্দী; born 13 May 1937) is an Indian political psychologist, social theorist, and critic. A trained clinical psychologist, Nandy has provided theoretical critiques of European colonialism, development, modernity, secularism, Hindutva, science, technology, nuclearism, cosmopolitanism, and utopia. He has also offered alternative conceptions relating to cosmopolitanism and critical traditionalism. In addition to the above, Nandy has offered an original historical profile of India's commercial cinema as well as critiques of state and violence.

He was Senior Fellow and Former Director of the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) for several years. Today,[when?] he is a Senior Honorary Fellow at the institute and apart from being the Chairperson of the Committee for Cultural Choices and Global Futures, also in New Delhi.[2][3]

Nandy received the Fukuoka Asian Culture Prize in 2007.[4] In 2008 he appeared on the list of the Top 100 Public Intellectuals Poll of the Foreign Policy magazine, published by The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.[5]

Early life and education[edit]

Nandy was born in a Bengali Christian family[6][7] at Bhagalpur, Bihar, in 1937. He is the eldest of three sons of Satish Chandra Nandy and Prafulla Nalini Nandy, and brother of Pritish Nandy. Later, his family moved to Calcutta. Nandy's mother was a teacher at La Martiniere School, Calcutta and subsequently became the school's first Indian vice principal. When he was 10, British India was partitioned into two sovereign countries – India and Pakistan. He witnessed the time of conflicts and atrocities that followed.

Nandy quit medical college after three years before joining Hislop College, Nagpur to study social sciences.[8] Later he took a master's degree in sociology. However, his academic interest tended increasingly towards clinical psychology and he did his PhD in psychology at Dept. of Psychology, Gujarat University, Ahmedabad.

While a professed non-believer, Nandy identifies with the Bengali Christian community.[9]

Academic career[edit]

Nandy joined the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), Delhi, as a young faculty member. While working there, he developed his own methodology by integrating clinical psychology and sociology. Meanwhile, he was invited by a number of universities and research institutions abroad to carry out research and to give them lectures. He served as the Director of CSDS between 1992 and 1997. He also serves on the Editorial Collective of Public Culture, a reviewed journal published by Duke University Press.

Ashish Nandy in the library of the CSDS.

Nandy has coauthored a number of human rights reports and is active in movements for peace, alternative sciences and technologies, and cultural survival. He is a member of the Executive Councils of the World Futures Studies Federation, the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, the International Network for Cultural Alternatives to Development, and the People's Union for Civil Liberties. Nandy has been a Woodrow Wilson Fellow at the Wilson Center, Washington, D.C., a Charles Wallace Fellow at the University of Hull, and a Fellow of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Humanities, University of Edinburgh. He held the first UNESCO Chair at the Center for European Studies, University of Trier, in 1994. In 2006 he became the National Fellow of the Indian Council of Social Science Research.

Professor Nandy is an intellectual who identifies and explores numerous and diverse problems. He has written extensively in last two decades. His 1983 book, titled The Intimate Enemy: Loss and Recovery of Self Under Colonialism, talked about the psychological problems posed at a personal level by colonialism, for both coloniser and colonised. Nandy argues that the understanding of self is intertwined with those of race, class, and religion under colonialism, and that the Gandhian movement can be understood in part as an attempt to transcend a strong tendency of educated Indians to articulate political striving for independence in European terms. Through his prolific writing and other activities supported by his belief in non-violence, Professor Nandy has offered penetrating analysis from different angles of a wide range of problems such as political disputes and racial conflicts, and has made suggestions about how human beings can exist together, and together globally, irrespective of national boundaries.



  • 1978 – The New Vaisyas: Entrepreneurial Opportunity and Response in an Indian City. Raymond Lee Owens and Ashis Nandy. Bombay: Allied, 1977. Durham, NC: Carolina Academic P, 1978.
  • 1980 – At the Edge of Psychology: Essays in Politics and Culture. Delhi: Oxford UP, 1980. Delhi; Oxford: Oxford UP, 1990.
  • 1980 – Alternative Sciences: Creativity and Authenticity in Two Indian Scientists. New Delhi: Allied, 1980. Delhi: Oxford UP, 1995.
  • 1983 – The Intimate Enemy: Loss and Recovery of Self Under Colonialism. Delhi: Oxford UP, 1983. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1988.
  • 1983 – Science, Hegemony and Violence: A Requiem for Modernity. Ed. Ashis Nandy. Tokyo, Japan: United Nations University, 1988. Delhi: Oxford UP, 1990.
  • 1987 – Traditions, Tyranny, and Utopias: Essays in the Politics of Awareness. Delhi; New York: Oxford UP, 1987. New York: Oxford UP, 1992.
  • 1987 – Science, Hegemony and Violence: A Requiem for Modernity. Ed. Ashis Nandy. Tokyo, Japan: United Nations University, 1988. Delhi: Oxford UP, 1990.Traditions, Tyranny, and Utopias: Essays in the Politics of Awareness. Delhi; New York: Oxford UP, 1987. New York: Oxford UP, 1992.
  • 1988 – Science, Hegemony and Violence: A Requiem for Modernity. Ed. Ashis Nandy. Tokyo, Japan: United Nations University, 1988. Delhi: Oxford UP, 1990.
  • 1989 – The Tao of Cricket: On Games of Destiny and the Destiny of Games. New Delhi; New York: Viking, 1989. New Delhi; New York: Penguin, 1989.
  • 1993 – Barbaric Others: A Manifesto on Western Racism. Merryl Wyn Davies, Ashis Nandy, and Ziauddin Sardar. London; Boulder, CO: Pluto Press, 1993.
  • 1994 – The Illegitimacy of Nationalism: Rabindranath Tagore and the Politics of Self. Delhi; Oxford: Oxford UP, 1994.
  • 1994 – The Blinded Eye: Five Hundred Years of Christopher Columbus. Claude Alvares, Ziauddin Sardar, and Ashis Nandy. New York: Apex, 1994.
  • 1995 – The Savage Freud and Other Essays on Possible and Retrievable Selves. Delhi; London: Oxford UP, 1995. Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 1995.
  • 1995 – Creating a Nationality: the Ramjanmabhumi Movement and Fear of the Self. Ashis Nandy, Shikha Trivedy, and Achyut Yagnick. Delhi; Oxford: Oxford UP, 1995. New York: Oxford UP, 1996.[10][11]
  • 1996 – The Multiverse of Democracy: Essays in Honour of Rajni Kothari. Eds. D.L. Sheth and Ashis Nandy. New Delhi; London: Sage, 1996.
  • 1999 – Editor, The Secret Politics of Our Desires: Innocence, Culpability and Indian Popular Cinema Zed: 1999. (also wrote introduction)
  • 2002 – Time Warps – The Insistent Politics of Silent and Evasive Pasts.
  • 2006 – Talking India: Ashis Nandy in conversation with Ramin Jahanbegloo. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2006.
  • 2007 – TIME TREKS: The Uncertain Future of Old and New Despotisms. New Delhi: Permanent Black, 2007.
  • 2007 – A Very Popular Exile. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2007.

Selected articles

  • Nandy, Ashis (1984). "Culture, State and the Redisovery of Indian Politics". Economic and Political Weekly. 19 (49): 2078–2083. JSTOR 4373849.
  • Nandy, Ashis (1995). "An Anti-secularist Manifesto". India International Centre Quarterly. 22 (1): 35–64. JSTOR 23003710.
  • Nandy, Ashis (1997). "The Twilight of certitudes: Secularism, Hindu Nationalism, and Other Masks of Deculturation". Alternatives: Global, Local, Political. 22 (2): 157–176. doi:10.1177/030437549702200201. JSTOR 40644885. S2CID 145675018.
  • Nandy, Ashis (12 August 2006). "Nationalism, Genuine and Spurious: Mourning Two Early Post-Nationalist Strains". Economic and Political Weekly. 41 (32): 3500–3504. JSTOR 4418563.

Selected essays



During the Jaipur Literature Festival held in January 2013, Nandy participated in a panel where he was quoted to have made controversial statements on corruption among "lower" castes in India. It was reported that he said,

It is a fact that most of the corrupt come from OBCs and Scheduled Castes and now increasingly the Scheduled Tribes. I will give an example. One of the states with the least amount of corruption is state of West Bengal when the CPI(M) was there. And I must draw attention to the fact that in the last 100 years, nobody from OBC, SC and ST has come anywhere near to power. It is an absolutely clean state.[12]

Rajasthan Police lodged an FIR under the SC/ST Act against Ashis Nandy for his statement regarding corruption among the SC/ST and OBCs.[13] After Nandy's lawyer moved the Supreme Court to quash all the allegations against him, the Court issued a stay order on his arrest on 1 February 2013.[14] The subaltern scholar Dr. Satyanarayana has challenged Nandy's remarks and expressed shock at the vociferous support he received for this from the Indian media and academia, asking rhetorically, "Is Prof. Nandy a holy cow?".[15][neutrality is disputed]

Scholars say Nandy was at his satirical best when he made the comment but the sarcasm was lost on his detractors. They took this as an opportunity to attack him. But Nandy's sarcasm is well known in academic circles who were not surprised by the comment. In fact, he found support from academic quarters. Interestingly, three years later, in 2016-17, he received the KK Daomdaran Award from the Sree Narayana Mandira Samiti, Mumbai for his lifetime achievement as a scholar and intellectual, and for his contribution to the cause of the marginalised communities and castes.

Views on Narendra Modi[edit]

In 2019, The New Yorker magazine reported:[16] “During the dispute over Babri Masjid, Ashis Nandy began a series of interviews with R.S.S. members. A trained psychologist, he wanted to study the mentality of the rising Hindu nationalists. One of those he met was Narendra Modi, who was then a little-known BJP functionary. Nandy interviewed Modi for several hours, and came away shaken. His subject, Nandy told [the reporter], exhibited all the traits of an authoritarian personality: puritanical rigidity, a constricted emotional life, fear of his own passions, and an enormous ego that protected a gnawing insecurity. During the interview, Modi elaborated a fantastical theory of how India was the target of a global conspiracy, in which every Muslim in the country was likely complicit. ‘Modi was a fascist in every sense,’ Nandy said. ‘I don’t mean this as a term of abuse. It’s a diagnostic category.’”


  • Ashis Nandy in conversation with Gurcharan Das[17][18][19]
  • Ashis Nandy in conversation with Vinay Lal[20]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ashis Nandy - Laureates Fukuoka Prize
  2. ^ Ashis Nandy Emory University.
  3. ^ Ashis Nandy – Senior Honorary Fellow Archived 4 May 2009 at the Wayback Machine Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) website.
  4. ^ "Fukuoka Asian Culture Prize – Laureates for 2007". The Fukuoka Asian Culture Prizes. Archived from the original on 8 February 2009. Retrieved 19 November 2008.
  5. ^ "Top 100 Public Intellectuals". Foreign Policy. May 2008. Archived from the original on 5 December 2008. Retrieved 19 November 2008.
  6. ^ "25, yet no Christian". The Herald of India. Retrieved 27 January 2013.
  7. ^ "A short pause". Rediff. 12 January 1999. Retrieved 27 January 2013.
  8. ^ "The Oppressed Have No Obligation to Follow the Rules of the Game". Retrieved 21 May 2019.
  9. ^ "But as a Christian, do you identify with your community? Yes, I do, even though I am not a believer. I have been a nonbeliever from my teens, much to the sorrow of my parents, who were devout Christians. But I am a product of the Bengali Christian family and culture. I identify with it. I don’t disown it, particularly because it is such a small community. I do not belong to the majority community, which is 82% of the country’s population but some of them still feel and behave like a minority. [Laughs]" "Ashis Nandy on being an Indian Christian, Julio Ribeiro's pain and why he opposes conversion". 4 April 2015. Retrieved 5 April 2015.
  10. ^ Israel, Milton (October 1998). "Ashis Nandy et al. Creating a Nationality: The Ramajanmabhumi Movement and Fear of the Self (book review)". The American Historical Review. 103 (4): 1311–1312. doi:10.2307/2651320. JSTOR 2651320.
  11. ^ Menski, Werner (1998). "Creating a Nationality: The Ramajanmabhumi Movement and Fear of the Self by Ashis Nandy (book review)". Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies. 61 (2): 371–327. doi:10.1017/s0041977x00014294. JSTOR 3107702. S2CID 161779447.
  12. ^ "Most of the Corrupt From SC/STs, OBCs: Ashis Nandy". Outlook India. Outlook Publishing India Pvt. Ltd. Retrieved 16 December 2016.
  13. ^ "Rajasthan Police file FIR, summon Ashis Nandy". 29 January 2013.
  14. ^ ANI (1 February 2013). "JLF controversy: Supreme Court steps in to prevent Ashis Nandy's arrest". Daily News & Analysis. Retrieved 1 February 2013.
  15. ^ "Is Prof. Ashis Nandy a holy cow?". roundtableindia. 31 January 2013. Retrieved 2 March 2014.
  16. ^ Filkins, Dexter (27 November 2019). "Blood and Soil in Narendra Modi's India". The New Yorker. Retrieved 24 January 2020.
  17. ^ Video on YouTube
  18. ^ Video on YouTube
  19. ^ Video on YouTube
  20. ^ "Frontpage - MANAS". MANAS.


  • Sardar, Ziauddin and Loon, Borin Van. 2001. Introducing Science. US: Totem Books (UK: Icon Books).

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]