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It is clear from the foregoing discussion that both integrative and disruptive forces have been simultaneously released by developmental and political dynamics in India. It is the changing balance between these two mutually incompatible forces that defines the characteristics of the ethnic scene in the country. Looking at the prevailing situation, one cannot avoid the impression that over the past few years ethnic conflicts and disorders in India have gained in ascendancy and ugliness.

However, the battle of preserving and promoting "unity in diversity" in India is far from being lost. It can be won not because of the coercive power of the Indian state, but because of the inherent strength and resilience of Indian society. Notwithstanding the raging ethnic conflicts in the Punjab, Kashmir, Assam, and the North-East region, the ethnic situation in India is still not unmanageable, keeping in view India's vastness and diversity and the challenge of externally inspired subversion (which we have not discussed in this paper).

It must be recognized that the Indian masses, not the power Úlites, are strongly rooted in their composite culture and secular commitments, evolved over centuries of cultural synthesis. This composite culture's vitality and resilience have not been lost even in the face of distortions brought about by India's power Úlites, its developmental dynamics, federal polity, or democratic politics. No wonder, then, that the Akalis in the Punjab have to accept the reality of their internal ethnic contradictions and fluctuating electoral fortunes. Similarly, the BJP has to realize that there are severe limits on the "profitability" of communalizing politics - otherwise they could continue to spit fire on the Ayodhya issue. Even the intensity of the Mandal issue, so closely linked to the ideas of social justice and egalitarianism enshrined in the Indian Constitution, has had to fade out politically.

For the future, one thing is clear: if India is to resolve its ethnic conflicts and work for a harmonious balance in its ethnic and cultural fibre, political opportunism and expediency cannot be allowed to go uncurbed. To permit this would distort the logic of development and the thrust of federal and democratic institutions. The problem is not with the institutions and the common people in India, but with a leadership that surrenders values and larger gains for short-term, selfish advantages.


1. Rashiduddin Khan, Federal India: A Design for Change (New Delhi: Vikas, 1992).

2. Marguerite Ross Barnett, The Politics of Cultural Nationalism in South India (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1976).

3. Samina Ahmed, "The Politics of Ethnicity in India," Regional Studies (Islamabad) IX, no. 4, (Autumn 1991): 22-50.

4. Arun Bose, "India and Indians: Disintegration and Reintegration," Contributions to Indian Sociology 25, no. 1 (Jan.-dun. 1991); David Washbrook, "Ethnicity in Contemporary Indian Politics," in Hamza Alavi and John Harris (eds), South Asia: Sociology of "Developing Societies" (London: Macmillan, 1989), pp. 174-86.

5. India, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Jawaharlal Nehru's Speeches September 1953 - August I 957, vol. 3 (Delhi, 1950), pp. 36-7.

6. Op. cit., vol. 4 (September 1957 - April 1953), pp. 7-20.

7. Stanley J. Tambiah, "Ethnic Conflicts in the World Today." American Ethnologist 16 (1989): 335-49

8. Dipankar Gupta, "Communalism and Fundamentalism: Some Notes on the Nature of Ethnic Politics in India," Economic and Political Weekly, Annual Number (March 1991): 573.

9. Op. cit., p. 579.

10. Bose, op. cit.

11. Asaf Hussain, "Ethnicity, National Identily and Praetorianism: The Case of Pakistan," Asian Survey XVI, no. 10 (1976): 925; Paul R. Brass, Language, Religion and Politics in Northern India (London/New York: Cambridge University Press, 1974), pp. 14-20, cited in D. Reetz, "National Consolidation or Fragmentation in Pakistan: The Dilemma of General Zia ul-Haq (1977-1988)," in Diethelm Weidemann (ed.), Nationalism, Ethnicity and Political Development in South Asia, (New Delhi: Manohar Publications, 1991), p. 126.

12. Weidemann, op. cit.

13. Washbrook, op. cit.

14. P.R. Rajgopal, Communal Violence in India (New Delhi: Uppal, 1991); Jaytilak Guha Roy, "Politics, Religion and Violence in India," Indian Journal of Political Science 52, no. 4 (Oct.-Dee. 1991): 43947; S.K. Ghosh, "The Changing Faces of Communal Riots," The Hindustan Times (New Delhi), Sunday Magazine section, 31 May, 1992.

15. Ibid. Also Dennis Austine and Anirudha Gupta, "Politics of Violence in India and South Asia: Is Democtacy an Endangered Species?", Conflict Studies 233 (July-Aug. 1990); Asghar Ali Engineer (ed.), Communal Riots in Post Independence India, (Delhi: Sangam Publications, 1984); Asghar Ali Engineer and Moin Shakir (eds), Communalism in India (Delhi: Ajanta Publications, 1985); Veena Das (ed.), Mirrors of Violence: Communities, Riots, Survivors in South Asia (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1990), pp. 1-34.

16. Yogendra K. Malik and Dhirendra K. Vajpeyi, "Rise of Hindu Militancy: India's Secular Democracy at Risk," Asian Survey 29, no. 3 (March 1989): 308-25; Premshankar Jha, "Fascist Upsurge Against Secular Democracy," Mainstream 29, no. 6 (1 December 1990): 7-8, 35; Ayodhya Movement in Manthan (special issue), May-June 1991.

17. Gupta, op. cit.; D.L. Seth, "Movements, Intellectuals and the State," Economic and Political Weekly 27, no. 8 (22 February 1992): 425-30.

18. On the Jharkhand Movement, see A.L. Raj, "Ideology and Hegemony in Jharkhand," Economic and Political Weekly 27, no. 5 (1 February 1992): 200-3; Upjit Singh Rekhi, Jharkhand Movement in Bihar, New Delhi: Nunes Publications, 1988.

19. See editorial on the subject in The Hindustan Times (New Delhi), 1 June 1992.

20. D. Reetz, in Weidemann (ed.), op. cit., p. 126.

21. Tambiah, op. cit., p. 347.

22. For the concept of "ethnic nepotism" see Tatu Vanhanen, "Politics of Ethnic Nepotism in India," in Weidemann (ed.), op. cit., pp. 69-92.

23. Pramod Kumar; Manmohan Sharma, Atul Sood, and Ashwin Handa, Punjab Crisis: Context and Trends (Chandigarh: Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Development, 1984); Lloyd I. and Susan H. Rudolph, In Pursuit of Lakshmi: The Political Economy of the Indian State (Chicago London: University of Chicago Press, 1987); Patwant Singh and Harji Malik (eds), Punjab: The Fatal Miscalculations (New Delhi: Patwant Singh 1985); Sucha Singh Gill and K.C., Singhal, "Punjab Problem: A Genesis of Present Crisis," Economic and Political Weekly 19 (7 April 1984).

24. India, Constituent Assembly Debates, vol. 7, p. 43.

25. As cited in Sandeep Shastri, "Indian Federalism and National Integration," Indian Journal of Political Science 51, no. 2 (April-June 1990): 172-85.

26. States Reorganisation Commission's Report, as cited in Sandeep Shastri, op. cit.

27. For a brief description of the reorganization of states in India, see P.C. Mathur, Social Bases of Indian Politics (Jaipur: Aalekh Publishers, 1984), chap. 9, pp. 135-91.

28. These lists, along with the "Union list," where only the Union Parliament has exclusive rights to make laws, are included in the Seventh Schedule of the Indian Constitution. A detailed definition of the devolution of power and the conduct of relations between the centre and the States is given in Part XI (arts. 245-263) of the Constitution.

29. Paul R. Brass, "Pluralism, Regionalism and Decentralising Tendencies in Contemporary Indian Politics," in A.J. Wilson and D. Dalton (eds.), The States of South Asia (New Delhi: Vikas Publishing House, 1982); K. Rangachari, "Centre-State Dialogue: Focus on Finance Commission," in Statesman (New Delhi), 24 September 1987.

30. Times of India (New Delhi), 24 September 1987.

31. This demand of Sikkim is based upon the fact that, as articulated in the ruling Sikkim Sangram Parishad Party's May 1992 convention, Sikkim shared difficult mountainous terrain, poor resources, and mass poverty with the North-East states. The idea is therefore to enhance Sikkim's bargaining position vis-Ó-vis the centre.

32. Satish K. Sharma, "Social Mobility and Growing Resistance: A Study of Social Development and Ethnic Conflicts in India," Social Action 41, no. 1 (Jan.-Mar. 1991): 64-77.

33. For a discussion of this issue, see Richard Sisson, Politics and Culture in India, Ann Arbor, Ml: University of Michigan Press, 1988; Iqbal Narain, "Cultural Pluralism, National Integration and Democracy in India," Asian Survey 19, no. 2 (February 1979): 165-77. India's State Ministers of Culture debated a new cultural policy for India: see The Hindu (New Delhi), 25 and 27 May 1992.

34. Government of India, Report on the Centre-State Relations in India (Sarkaria Commission) (New Delhi: 1988).

35. Dipankar Gupta, "The Communalizing of Punjab, 1980-85," Economic and Political Weekly 20, no. 28 (13 July 1985): 1185-90; Bhagwan G. Dua, "Federalism or Patrimonialism: The Unmaking of Chief Ministers in India," Asian Survey 25, no. 8 (August 1985): 793-804; Jagmohan, My Frozen Turbulence in Kashmir (New Delhi: Allied Publishers, 1991).

36. Nagaland People's Council, Subversion of the Constitution of India in Nagaland (New Delhi: 1992), pp. 1-2.

37. As cited in Shastri, op. cit.

38. Khan, op. cit.

39. Cynthia H. Enole, Ethnic Conflict and Political Development (New York: University Press of America, 1986), pp. 59-60.

40. D.L. Seth, "Movements, Intellectuals and the State," Economic and Political Weekly 27, no. 8 (22 February 1992): 425-30.

41. Ratna Naidu, The Commercial Edge of Plural Societies: India and Malaysia, (New Delhi: Vikas, 1980).

42. Vanhanan, op. cit. (see Table I for identification of ethnicity and region based parties).

43. Sudha Pai, "Regional Parties and the Emerging Pattern of Politics in India," in Indian Journal of Political Science 51, no. 3 (Jul.-Sap. 1990): 393-415.

44. Gupta, op. cit., n. 35; Mark Tully and Satish Jacob, Amritsar: Mrs. Gandhi's East Battle (London: Jonathan Cape, 1985).

45. Sunday (weekly magazine, Calcutta) vol. 15, 14-20 February 1988.

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