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Singh, Gurharpal (1995) 'The Punjab crisis since 1984: A reassessment.' Ethnic and Racial Studies, 18 (3). pp. 476-493.

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Abstract

Over the last decade there has been increasing scholarly interest in the ethnic character of the Indian state. This interest has coincided with the rise of the Hindu revivalist Bharatiya Janata Party [BJP], nation‐wide clashes between Hindus and Muslims, and bitter conflict over affirmative action for backward classes. Simultaneously, the Indian state has been confronted by regional movements in Kashmir, Assam and Punjab seeking secession from the Indian Union. By focusing on the Punjab crisis this article argues that conventional explanations have concentrated on national political centralization and regional economic factors, to the neglect of Sikh ethno‐nationalism and its dialectical relationship with strategies for ethnic conflict management followed by the Indian state since 1947. Drawing on recent revisionist accounts, the Indian state, it is suggested, should be viewed as a form of an ethnic democracy in which hegemonic control is exercised over non‐Hindu ethnic groups. The Punjab case‐study shows that hegemonic control has characterized the relationship between the Sikhs and the Indian state between 1947 and 1984, and efforts to re‐establish hegemonic control after 1984 degenerated into violent control. The experience of the last ten years suggests that hegemonic control and violent control are unlikely to provide an enduring solution to the Punjab crisis. Rather, there is a need to address fundamentally the crisis of the Indian political system and how it has managed its minorities since 1947. Central to this reassessment is the viability of India's majoritarian political system in the context of an ethnically plural society.

Item Type: Journal Article
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > School of History, Religions & Philosophies > Department of Religions & Philosophies
Legacy Departments > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Department of the Study of Religions
ISSN: 01419870
DOI (Digital Object Identifier): https://doi.org/10.1080/01419870.1995.9993875
Date Deposited: 06 Sep 2016 08:03
URI: https://eprints.soas.ac.uk/id/eprint/22957

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