The term “secular” has long been interpreted in academia either as opposition towards religion or as a neutral position. As a Western concept deeply entangled with Christianity, its application to non-Christian and non-Western societies is highly contested. In our second case study, we focus on media discourse around Nepali democracy as a secular (dharmanirapekṣa) state. The discourse understands dharmanirapekṣa as neutrality or indifference towards all religions, but the idea of opposition is lacking. Secularism is attacked as a Western concept threatening Nepali culture or welcomed as a tool in the fight for recognition of different groups after centuries of domination under high-caste Hindu rule.
This conclusion summarises and compares the two preceding case studies: “Secular Voices on Air: The British Debate on Thought for the Day” (Tim Karis) and “The Understanding of dharmanirapekṣa (“secular”) in the Nepali Online Newspaper Nagarik” (Johanna Buss).
The study of the history of print technology in South Asia is a multidisciplinary enterprise which involves attentive consideration of the cultural and linguistic diversity of the region, as well as of the historical time in which print technology was massively adopted, namely the colonial period. Here, we focus on the complex fabric of relationships between print and modes of recording and using texts in long present oral and manuscript cultures, also pointing out the limits of applying interpretative models based on the cultural history of Europe to the histories of print in South Asia. Furthermore, we present aspects of the formative stage of print cultures concerning Vedic, Limbu, Nepali, Newari, and Tamil textual traditions—which are studied in the essays of this special issue. This multi-layered perspective helps making sense of social and cultural dynamics concerning the uses of printed books, the (new) meanings associated with them, and the formation of hegemonic configurations within literary and religious traditions.