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26.1 Introduction
26.2 Ethnicity : Conceptualisation
26.3 Perspectives to study Ethnicity
26.4 Manifestationof
26.5 Response of the State
26.6 The Main Cases of Ethnicity in India
26.6.1 North-East India
26.6.2 Nadu
26.6.4 and Kashmir
26.8 Exercises

India, like any other third world after achieving Independence from the colonial rule, was engaged with the project of nation- building. The leadership of the country at time believed that the only way .to achieve the overall development of
society was to have democratic political in the country based on the principles of secularism, liberty, equity, socialism, which were guaranteed in the Constitution of the
country. To achieve these principles the state introduced the or model of development. But project of nation-building with main purpose to achieve
democracy and development had to be carried out amidst the ethnic diversities in the
country. Apart the religious and groups, the diversities in India in of languages and regional development With different levels of development and histories, different regions and groups in the could pose a real challenge to the
nation- building. Moreover, the strategic location on the international borders of the East, Tamil Nadu, and and Kashmir made task of nation-building more challenging. With the of holocaust following the partition of the country, the goal of nation-building was top priority of the country's leadership achieving Independence. It was believed at that time that with the establishment of the democratic political system and overall development, the or the diversitiesin India will not pose any problem in nation-building.In process of nation-building,the will be to the background.

While in the first two decades following Independence, attempt in the quest building India as a nation-state was basically based on the modernisation or the developmental1 westernisation model, from the 1980s onwards the Hindu rightist forces in the country represented by the BJP and its fraternal organisations are attempting to project India as a nation-state, or a Hindu state, based on the principles of cultural nationalism. Critical of


the or the developmental model, advocatesof such understanding strive to remove what they consider the disto tions in the policies of the state. Their attempts to introduce legislation regarding the food habits, religious preferences are indication to give priority to the Hindu In such perspective the nation is considered as the Hindu nation-state where other get the secondary position. This poses
challenge to the nation- in two ways - one, it does recognise the existence of the
other faiths which disagree with it, and social hierarchy based on the
Hindu system; second, in reaction to this there has been mobilisation of-the ethnic groups based on the religious and caste considerations. It has resulted in the conflicts, terrorism, protest of the low castes in the of religious conversion, caste riots, and search for analternative ideology professes social change. Even the rise of dravidian was a reaction to the Hindu nationalism as perceived by the dravidian parties of
South India.


Generally is considered as mobilisation of a group of people who share
attributes in terms of language, religion, history, etc., and who are different from group which also shares certain attributes. This mobilisation can be on a
single attribute or more. For on basis of language, religion as communalism in the context), language, caste or tribe is considered as ethnic mobilisation. Paul R. Brass Is one of who uses the ethnic mobilisation and
interchangeably. differentiates between communalism. He argues that necessarily denotes mobilisation of a group in
relation to another reference to nation-state -the territory and the sovereignty. An
ethnic either proclaims itself to be the real the faith in the territory of a
or wants to up a sovereign state or questions the loyalty another group. The reference to the attributes of the nation-state can be direct or indirect. In a group mobilisation which is not referred to the attributes of the nation-state-territory or sovereignty is not ethnic mobilisation. It is communal the loyalty of a group to the nation-state is not doubted or proclaimed. In it is the government, which is the reference point; the government is accused of either discriminating against or favouring the groups. In the changing context of and space, can turn into
ethnicity arid vice-versa.

A nation-stateis a geographical entity whose is the shared sentiments of
a community based on history, language, religion or civilisation. But some
do not consider India as a nation-state. argue the basis of the foundation of a
nation-state is single or nationality; in such a society people share a single common language, culture or even religion. Since are a large of
who different languages, share different cultural histories, religions, she is a
multinational state, a nation-state. However, generally, in the context the
nation-state, nation or inultinational state are used


How do the people sharing attributes of culture, language, religions within a particular territorial limits or cutting across different regions form a group - ethnic group as distinct from such groups? There are basically perspectives to explain question, the primordial, the and the perspective, which combines the traits of both and the instrumentalist. According to the primordial approach the ethnic differences the people are "given", they are inherited by them. These differences are bound to of ethnic conflict between the groups. The advocates of the instrumentalist approacll believe that differences are not "given"; they are created by elite, who could be politicians, teachers, religious leaders, etc. The latter manipulate the social cleavages or differences for the attainment of their goal. The social cleavages which be existing together in despite their differences are
translated by the elite into the ethnic differences. particular contexts the differences culminate in of ethnic conflicts, riots, autonomy movements or even insurgency. The basis of social cleavages, which are turned into the ethnic groups are always real. of these are even "invented" or "constructed" by the elite. The third perspective believes both these perspectives- and instrumentalists,are unable to the issue of They divide the issue into It advocates the of both these approaches. Its advocates argue that the primordial approach does not explain as to people, sharing get activated into the ethnic groups. Similarly, the instrumentalist approach does not explain people sharing attributes respond to the call of the elite who manipulate them into the ethnic


understanding that will a seat in the face of the development which would follow as a result of - boosting the process of nation- state building, was contested soon. before the results of the model became visible, on it was based was questioned. It was argued that such a of nation-building the nationalities in the country. It was an imposition on identities, cultures, aspirations were neglected. This model of nation-state building to their interests. The advocates of this perspective protested against the nationalist perspective. with the revolt of the in the it spread to Nadu and and and in the North. to nation-building in all parts of the country since then, on the lines of caste, religion, region, language, tribes, etc. While a single attribute could be most visible the of the ethnic identity, it has been combination of more one actually provided the basis for it. Similarly, Hindu rightist forces were Its critics argued that India is a nation-state. It is a multi-national state. Paul R. Brass in fact argued that though in practice level followed the model, they had accepted the pluralist characteristics- different linguistic, religious and other minorities
the country in terms of its policies. sort of pluralism was accepted in the national

level policies only, But the state followed discriminatory and assimilative policies towards the ininorities. project is nation-state is virtually a denial existence of the pluralism and the diversities in the country.

The ethnic challenge to the building took the following shapes in

1) Autonomy movements

2) Demand for secession


4) Conflicts and riots on the basis of -tribe, caste, religion, etc.

First three of ethnic manifestation are called self- deternzination movements. It to be noted that these forms do not follow a sequence of occurrence in the country. It with and another in different situations. From 1950s onwards the based on these have been common in various regions of the country. fact, Salig S. Harrison first two decades the Independence as dangerous decades" to the linguistic or
conflicts which too!: at that Very conflicts in the states were rooted in the local

The linguistic of the states created states on the basis of
linguistic traits. But there the basis of religion, native-immigrant dichotomy, controversy parts for the within states and for the secession the cropped These often resulted in violence. While in the case of the and
the main targets of the protagonists is the state agencies, especially identified the central government quite also involves conflict or riots
in a region. But if it is a the basis of language, religion, castes, tribal identity, it is mainly between different groups. such cases tlie state can be perceived as being partisan to a particular community or be really so as the other. The scholars have, however, noticed that secessionist India have existed alongwith the nationalist


The response of the state depends on context of political situation. pattern of the state response to the ethnic manifestations in India has coercion, accommodation, causing the division within the movement, appeasement of and patronage to a particular section of the leadership of etc. Paul R Brass has argued that in the 1950s and 1960s the central pursued
rules towards the conflicts, etc., - not considering the for political
recognition of the religious no concession to the demand.of the linguistic, or culturally defined and concession to the cultural groups in conflict unless both sides it For it was not until the ,

demand for a Punjabi got support of the leadership in Haryana for a separate Hindi speaking area that the Suba - the state of was created.


There are several of manifestation in different regions of India. This section discusses the of

North-East India

With their distinct geographical location and diverse ethnic almost all the states of North-East have been beset with the problems of ethnicity, They all have witnessed insurgency, ethnic and riots and autonomy movements varying degrees at point of post-Independence period. They have generally taken violent
Even as the elements of the insurgency present in almost all the states, it
most strident form in Nagaland and There ase forces in of the states of
East India believe that they not Indians; their been with forcibly consent. They would prefer to have their own nation-states. insurgent groups in Nagaland for did not accept Indian Constitution, its VI schedule meant for the No th-East, boycotted the first election held in 1952 in the country, and declased to have set own sovereign state exile -the Federal Republic of Nagaland. In the past two decades insurgent groups have emerged in almost all states of region. Supported by the countries, especially the bordering these have set umbrella under the readership of the NSCN (National Socialist Council of sovereignty of the Indian state the concept of nation-state. The areas of which are inhabited by the and Garos had witnessed the movement for state in the It resulted in formation
of a separate of in 1972. In there agitations the creation of .
states and Anglong, etc. The target in the insurgency is the sovereignty of the state - police, and institutions; the autonomy movements
do sovereignty of the state, but their attack also is diverted against the state agencies. insurgency result the ethnic riots, especially between the tribals and or between one or the other tribe. All these ultimately get linked to the state policies regarding Nort-East region.

There are mainly two perspectives which analyse the issue of ethnicity and nation- building in the context of the North-East India. The first is the "nation-state building" perspective. is "federation-building" perspective. The former views the problems as the of the following: process of "nation- building" in face of conflict between the modern and tradition; the process of modernisation transition conflict between the modem and traditional leadership; and the inability of the to the aspirations of the new generation. The

scholars who have used
r perspective are S V B B G Verghese, Myron
Wiener and Hiren The second perspective is basically a critique of the first one. This perspective is available largely in the writings of the scholars who hail the North-Eastern .
region. The prominent representatives of this perspective are Sajal

Nag, Hiren and M P In fact, opinion that the main leadership in the entire South Asia followed
notion of nationhood as per the considerations of the dominant and ignored minority constituents of the society. The scholars who adhere to this perspective
that problems in the North-East me the result "nation-state building" perspective
of the mainstreamnational level leadership. They further argue that in their quest of "nation-state building" the dominant groups of the country represented by the central the mainstream leadership ignored the the smaller nationalities of the North-East; have acted as a "step mother" to them; shown arrogant attitude; paid less attention to the human rights violation in the North-East than other parts of the country. These factors have resulted in the problem in the North-East. This perspective is well in the suggestion of Sanjib that the leadership of should replace their "nation-state building" approach in favour of ''genuine federation-building"in order to retrieve situation.

26.6.2 Tamil Nadu

The most strident opposition to the of as a nation-state had come in
much before was freed the colonial rule. The Dravidian
of Nadu became the representative of in tlze region. Originating in the Self- Respect Movement and later getting in the form of the Justice Party, Dravidian notion of the and nation-state in the country on three grounds - religion, language caste.
the Dravidian nationalism, E V as Periyar, argued that
the dominant nationalism in India was articulated by Congress which was based the religion or Hindi castes, especially It antithetical to the Dravidian based on non-Aryan Dravidian religion,
and low castes. It was necessary to protect the Dravidian identity and nationalism
the domination of the North Indian high caste two of
could not exist together. The for secession, anti-Hindi agitation and later demand more autonomy were the examples of implications of to state South India.

The legacy of Periyar wascarried forward by C M and M however, disagreed with the Periyar, Periyar only responsible the plight of the low castes, said it was also because of the colonial policies the domination of the high castes Congress was established over the According to the way to liberate Dravidas two oppressors
-colonialism and the Indian was to secede India and set up independent Nadu. He argued independent, democratic republic of India would be to demand for secession. observes Dravidian parties were first political parties to challenge the hegemony the Congress in an Indian state. Comparing the ethnic assertion with other movements
in the country, he observes that it was less violent in nature. It was basically an ideological
movement. The as an to the Congress in the
power in 1967. Since then the power in Tamil Nadu been shared by DMK
with the help of 'allies.

102 i

The demand for secession, however, did not generate the support those of Nagaland or Nor did it generate that level of violence. The of secessionism was dropped by the Dravidian parties the course of the sense of their separate identity continued even The secessionist tendencies gave way to demand for the autonoiny of states in the 1960s. The Dravidian of Tamil Nadu became important allies of tlze forces which demanded autonolny in the countsy.

The the Dravidian culture deterred the of on lines of in Nadu. Unlike other states of South India, the basis to the Hindu in Nadu been ideological.

The got manifested mainly in the of autonoiny movement and insurgency, had regional, religious and basis. Sometimes it had the of the conflict between Hindus and had witnessed the autonoiny movement during the 1950s and which was spearheaded the Akali Dal. The Akali leadership argued the areas of which were inhabited by people tongue was Punjabi, followed religion be given an autonomous province of their own. According to Baldev Raj Akali leadership followed three-pronged strategy
to the support - constitutional, infiltration and agitational. first involved constitutional means like the second large
of the to penetrate the Congress and influence its decisions within in favour of a and the third consisted of marches to shrines, use of force, intimidation. The agitational strategy often led to violence. In fact, there were two within the Akali Dali, one represented by giving the explanation; another was represented by Master justified the demand for
Suba on the religious ground - for autonomous province of the

period 1980s onwards was by next phase of the autonomy
Unlike the earlier one, had developed into
the sovereignty of the Indian state and for setting up of the Sikh on tenets of religion. It also bred communal divide between the Sikhs and the Hindus in by tlze scale violence, resulted in deaths and colossal loss of property, in challenged the edifice of Indian nation-state. The context of the agitation in this phase was different from the
1950s and 1960s. Following decline of the Congress and rise of the Altali Dal as significant Force in changed the trends in the state politics from late 1960s. In an
attempt to retain her control the politics of country, and Congress organisation, Indira Gandhi personalised the Congress and intervened in the politics of the states directly, especially the selection of Chief Ministers of the states. This with rising for change centre-state relations to be to the states. The challenge posed by Dal to of Congress in in the 1970s prompted Indira Gandhi to use religious to the Sikh votes. In the 1980 election to the Legislative Assembly, she took the help of Sant
Sing11 Bhindranwale, a religious leader to seelc the support of Sikhs. This had two
consequences. On the one hand it religious leaders, especially

to act independent of the political and become belligerent. support of foreign forces, he was able to sally a large of the youth and demand a separate - the movement scale violence took place, resulted in the of Gandhi, was part the of the processes following the Operation Blue Star. The agitation had challenged the legitimacy
Indian Nation-State. On the other hand, use of religion
imposition of the code of conduct created the communal divide between the and Hindus in sometimes, culminated into riots and conflicts.

There are two types of explanation of crisis as the there came
be addressed the 1970s and 1980s - the and political. The first is by the economists and the Marxist scholars. The representatives of this
are - Gill, C Joyce Pettigrew,
Javeed and They argue that the roots of the crisis lie in social of the people, especially the of the green to meet the cost in along with the unemployment, the crisis
of identity caused by the impact of values provided a fertile
ground for rise of militancy in scholars give political explanation, for example Paul Brass, the socio-economic explanation as argue, other hand, that the crisis has been outcome of the political of the religion and the problems of the people by the politicians. According to Brass, it actually been manipulation of the of by
in the context of changing relations gave to

in ab.

and Kashmir

The autonomy and in and is linked to geographical, historical and religious factors. Before its accession, political leadership in the
been divided on the issue of its to the While the king who
wanted to retain it as an state, opposed the accession of to India, the popular leader of state wanted it to be
India. But once the state got acceded to India and Sheikh Prime
Minister of the state, post which existed only this stale and later was
to the post of chief He started wavering on the issue of and to He formed the Plebiscite tlie central government to depose 1953 till 1964.

There have demands for state of Kashmir from two - the substantial part of the population. state of and has also joined other for the regional autonomy in of change in centre-state relations. witnessed the insurgency 1980s which resulted in scale violence divide in the
state. The of Pakistan the has posed challenge to the
Nation-state. According to the reasons for the insurgency in and
are: attitude of central lack of opposition in slate,
of democracy by state central leadership, rising and of the people, and Cold opinion the causes of insurgency in

state have been existing from 1947 itself, its phase whicli started from 1986 does not have links with the earlier period. The central goveriunent curtailed the autonomy gsanted to the state in 1947; through the Amendment, it made Articles 356 and 357 applicable to the state of and Kashmir. central as well as Sheilch Abdullah did not let the opposition grow in state; democracy was derailed in the name of nationalism; the interference of the central government in the affairs of the state and the unprincipled stance of state government. factors bred the feelings of helplessness among the people of and Kashmir. It coincided with the rising unemployment and deterioration in the material conditions of the people. At the same time refusal to grant autonomy state to the regions of and engendered regional divide within the state. The void created by the absence of democratic opposition, political parties was filled by the and forces. Encouraged and abated by these forces the of insurgency in the state. The failure to find the solution could integrate people of to the state, instead relying on forces has aggravated the problem.


To up, is one of the challenges the Indian faces. It is
in the of the self-determination - movements, secessionist and conflicts riots. In an attempt build the nation-state, national in country in the first two decades following independence believed
the overall of the would result subordinating the ethnic challenge. It the model for building the nation-state. within a few of independence, country was engulfed in linguistic agitations
and communal violence. model of nation-state building was contested by the nationalities in various parts of country - and Mizos in the North-East,
in Tamil and and of ethnic conflicts continue to grow tlie

There are sets of explanation for rise of ethnic challenge to tlie nation-state
-the primordial, a combination of primordial and the instrumental. The explanation is the most predominant. It has been argued by some
that the nation-state building model is an attempt of the dominant leadership the to
subordinate the smaller nationalities. To retrieve the situation, has to be a reversal in the
policies from the "nation-state building" to "genuine federation-building",


4) What is Discuss perspectives to study it.

5) Identify the forms of inanifestation of ethnicity. Compare the challenge of ethnicity to the nation-state in and and

6) the ethnicity the context of India.

7) Write a note on the ethnicchallenge to the nation-state with the example of


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