India

The State, Ethnicity and Nationalism
  • Vernon Hewitt

Abstract

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.

Keywords

Settling Defend Ethos Glean Concession 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes

  1. 1.
    S. Rudolph and L. Rudolph, In Pursuit of Lakshmi: State-Society Relations in India, Chicago, Chicago University Press, 1987.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    V.M. Hewitt, Reclaiming the Past? The Search for Political and Cultural Unity in Contemporary Jammu and Kashmir, London, Portland Books, 1995.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    D. Quigely, Interpreting Caste, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1994.Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    M. Srinivas, Caste in Modern India and Other Essays, Bombay, Media Promoters, 1962.Google Scholar
  5. 6.
    A. Jalal, Authoritarianism and Democracy in South Asia: A Comparative History, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1995.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 7.
    A. Smith, National Identity, Harmondsworth, Penguin, 1991.Google Scholar
  7. 9.
    B. Hettne, ‘Ethnicity and Development — an elusive relationship’ in Contemporary South Asia, Vol. 2, No. 2, 1993, pp. 123–150.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 11.
    Comprehending the appropriate association between the categories of language, culture and religion are crucial in being able to locate ethnicity, especially in India. It is not, for example, my intention to imply that the shift in ethnic identities in India, away from language towards religion is a shift towards a more ‘real’ or ’primordial’ basis. The distinctions, within Hinduism, between religion and culture are in themselves notoriously difficult to establish, and often as not have been located and policed by outsiders. See S. Madan, Non-Renunciation: Theories and Interpretations of Hindu Culture, New Delhi, Oxford University Press, 1987, p. 144.Google Scholar
  9. 12.
    V. Oldenburg, The Building of Colonial Lucknow., Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1984.Google Scholar
  10. 13.
    M. Galanter, Law and Society in Modern India, New Delhi, Oxford University Press, 1984.Google Scholar
  11. 16.
    V.M. Hewitt, ‘The Prime Minister and Parliament’ in J. Manor (ed) Nehru to the Nineties, London, Hurst, 1995.Google Scholar
  12. 17.
    V.M. Hewitt, Reclaiming the Past? The Search for Political and Cultural Unity in Contemporary Jammu and Kashmir, London, Portland Books, 1995.Google Scholar
  13. 18.
    D.L. Sheth, ‘The Great Lanuage Debate: Politics of Metropolitan vs Vernacular India’ in U. Baxi and P. Parekh, Crisis and Change in Contemporary India, New Delhi, Sage, 1995, p. 187.Google Scholar
  14. 20.
    B. Graham, Hindu Nationalism and Indian Politics: The Origins and Development of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1992.Google Scholar
  15. 22.
    Y. Malik, and D.K. Vaypeyi, ‘The Rise of Hindu Militancy’ in Asian Survey Vol. 29 (1989) pp. 311–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 22.
    M. Limaye, Contemporary Indian Politics, New Delhi, Sangam Books, 1987.Google Scholar
  17. 24.
    M. Tully, and S. Jacob, Amritsar: Mrs Gandhi’s Last Battle, New Delhi, Rupa Books, 1985.Google Scholar
  18. 26.
    S. Madan, Non-Renuciation: Interpreting Hindu Culture, New Delhi, Oxford University Press, 1987.Google Scholar
  19. A. Lamb, Kashmir 1947: The Birth of a Tragedy, Herefordshire, Roxford Books, 1994.Google Scholar
  20. 29.
    P. Brass, Politics of India Since Independence, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1990.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Vernon Hewitt

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations