Author Ananya Vajpeyi talks at UCF about India
Published: Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Updated: Thursday, October 11, 2012 14:10
The Global Perspectives Office at UCF invited author Ananya Vajpeyi to speak about her book and the political foundations of modern India as part of The Changing Face of Freedom in Today’s Turbulent Times lecture series.
The event, which was held on Monday in the Cape Florida Ballroom, was open to both students and faculty.
The lecture was also part of the India Center, which opened in January and is jointly administered by the Global Perspectives Office and the department of political science.
“We are approaching it with a lot of energy,” said Jessica Gagnon, the public affairs coordinator for Global Perspectives. “Our mission is to broaden people’s understanding of the interconnectedness of the global community.”
The lecture was the first talk Vajpeyi has given since her book came out one week ago. The book, titled Righteous Republic: The Political Foundations of Modern India, is about the search India’s search for identity after gaining independence from the British.
“The main idea is one of self-rule,” Vajpeyi said. “It’s [the] relationship between self and sovereignty.”
Vajpeyi began her talk by outlining the main ideas of her book, which led to her saying that in spite of the fact that India broke off from British rule in 1947, it is still on a search for self-identity.
“It is a question that has actually returned to haunt India,” Vajpeyi said.
The book is structured by exploring five of India’s founders: Mohandas Gandhi, Rabindranath Tagore, Abanindranath Tagore, Jawaharlal Nehru and Bhimrao Ambedkar, and their search for the answer to self-identity. Vajpeyi structured her speech in a similar way and explained how these founders looked at old text to find India’s identity in a modern world.
“We see India one way, but it debunks any common myths you might have,” senior political science major Kerry Mawn said. “You can’t get that experience anywhere else.”
One of Vajpeyi’s main points was that India was struggling in its desire to keep up technologically with the western world, but the people of India are trying to find their culture again and what makes them unique to the rest of the world.
“As you become more globalized, the more you start looking like other parts of the world,” Vajpeyi said.
Vajpeyi also said that although the colonization of India had a lot to do with its struggle to find its own identity, it is not worth it to imagine scenarios in which the colonization didn’t happen. Both India and Europe were changed with the colonization of India and Pakistan.
“Modernity as we know it is a result of an equally significant impact on each other,” she said.
The room was full of political science students such as senior Krissa Anderson, who said she wanted to hear Vajpeyi speak because she wants to take advantage of opportunities to hear people from all over the world.
“It’s interesting to meet all these people and the global connections opportunities we get to have,” she said.
Vajpeyi ended her speech with a question-and-answer session in which she expressed her wishes for modern India and the world.
“It’s important to integrate and embrace the growth,” she said. “But the self is elusive and it’s escaping our grasps.”