The State, Ethnicity and Nationalism
  • Vernon Hewitt


The degree of social pluralism in India is by any account extraordinary. To the European observer, the multiplicity of differing — and often competing — identities within the Republic of India seem more appropriately described by concepts such as ‘Empire’ or ‘Civilisational Areas’ rather than the more familiar and monolithic idioms of state and nation.1 India consists of an area measuring 3, 287, 263 square km, with a population somewhat in excess of 900 million persons. The Indian constitution recognises no less than 19 regional languages, (which themselves break down into over 250 regionally distinct dialects). In turn these languages lend themselves to many differing and interrelated scripts. In terms of religious and confessional identities, India contains numerous communities, from the Hindus (who constitute over 83 per cent of the population), to Indian Muslims (11 per cent), Sikhs (just over 2 per cent) and further minorities such as Jains, Buddhists and Parses.


Indian State Ethnic Identity Indian Constitution Territorial State Religious Minority 
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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1999

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  • Vernon Hewitt

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