Dealing with the Intimate Enemy: Civil Society and Ethno-Religious Conflict in Contemporary India

  • Sarbeswar Sahoo


Civil society, once boasting its democratic contribution, is now undermining the secular-democratic culture of India. Based on ethnographic fieldwork, this chapter examines the role of Rajasthan Vanvasi Kalyan Parishad (RVKP), a Hindu nationalist organization, among the Bhil tribes of Rajasthan. The chapter argues that the RVKP has implemented several developmental projects as a medium to gain people’s trust. By claiming to represent tribal interests, the RVKP has established itself as a “counterforce” against local Muslims and Christians and projected them as the “threatening others”. In this regard, it has received economic and politico-legal support from the state of Rajasthan, which is governed by the Hindu nationalists. The chapter concludes that the exclusivist politics of the RVKP and the Hindu nationalist state in Rajasthan have not only created a insecurity amongst the religious minorities; they have also radically polarized the public life and threatened the secular-democratic ethos of Indian society.


Hindu nationalism Religious violence Threatening others Civil society Politics of development India 



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  1. Interview 1. RVKP activist in Kotra, 20 September 2006.Google Scholar
  2. Interview 2. Teacher at the Modern School in Kotra, 23 September 2006.Google Scholar
  3. Interview 3. RVKP activist in Kolyari, 25 October 2006.Google Scholar
  4. Interview 4. Pastor in Jhadol, 26 November 2006.Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sarbeswar Sahoo
    • 1
  1. 1.Indian Institute of Technology DelhiNew DelhiIndia

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