Academic journal article Madhya Pradesh Journal of Social Sciences

Democracy and Ethno-Religious Conflicts in India: A Study in Post 90s

Academic journal article Madhya Pradesh Journal of Social Sciences

Democracy and Ethno-Religious Conflicts in India: A Study in Post 90s

Article excerpt

Ethnic conflicts are on rise worldwide (1). The perception that the spread of means and massage of modernity along with percolation of economic growth would diminish the primordial loyalties, sadly, has not come true. All the societies marked by diversity based on factors like religion, race, languages, sects and sub-sects or similar other elements are witness to this phenomenon which seems to have exploded exponentially in the last two decades. The premise that the Europe has moved beyond the question on nationality, and the ethno-nationalists quarrels and conflicts are restricted to pre-modern societies has proved wrong. The quantum of conflicts might have been different depending on the nature and magnitude of divide in the societies, but ethnic conflict is a crude reality which all nation states are grappling with in some way or other.

There are broadly three intended objectives of the ethnic conflicts emerging from claims. They are: Secessionism, territorial autonomy and greater inclusion and integration of their community demands in the system. The conflicts emerge from the minority community which feels deprived and neglected in the existing set up and therefore want a justified change which could ensure equal veritable space of all communities in the system in terms of representation, economic opportunities, civil and ethnic rights and so on. Thus, there is always a notion of victimhood, perceived or substantial that triggers and works behind the claims and conflicts. There are some conflicts in which the ethnic (cultural, religious or linguistic) minorities aim at independence as they want a separate homeland for themselves, an ethnonationalist claim. There are others who do not seek secession but certainly want a larger control on the areas which they think should be exclusively controlled and governed by them. Territorial autonomy is what they want for and fight for. The third category of conflicts is intended at larger share in the existing system and their demands are not at all intended at ethnonationalist claims. It is not essential that such claims are always confined to mere integration of their demands just because they are relatively weaker and cannot force upon the existing state system a separate homeland or autonomy for themselves. That may be because, it is not certain when the second category would turn into first category claims. Many a times, extreme demands in form of first category are also posed or advanced in order to negotiate and settle for the second one. Thus, the groups and communities start with a separate homeland demands but that is just the bargaining ploy/tactics to force negotiation. They know their strength is not enough to achieve it. In such conditions, they really use it for greater control on resources and state decisions. Actually, the adherence to the demands depends on the strength of the community and relative weakness of the state to accept it. There can be chain in which the conflict arising at third level may subsequently turn into the third category. But it is possible only when the relative strength of the ethnic community is strong enough and there is support for such demands from outside the border especially in case of secessionism. Deepak Khosla provides an empirical assessment of 975 interventions in which he argues that in over one half of all the interventions outsiders played the key role (Khosla: 1999).

India is encountered with all three kinds of conflicts and claims today. There are separate instances as well the conflicts which hold all three opinions. For example, take the case of Kashmir issue. There is no one opinion on the conflict. There are three streams within the conflict. There are those sections which are completely in understanding with Pakistan. And to them, resolution of Kashmir conflict lies in separation of Kashmir from India and its subsequent annexation with Pakistan. For them, Kashmir is illegally occupied by India as it is a Muslim majority province and therefore should go to Pakistan. …

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