Rethinking Social Exclusion in India: Castes, Communities and the State 2017015779, 9781138282179, 9781315270821

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Rethinking Social Exclusion in India: Castes, Communities and the State
 2017015779, 9781138282179, 9781315270821

Table of contents :
Half Title
Title Page
Copyright Page
Table of Contents
Notes on contributors
Part I New forms of inclusion and exclusion in contemporary India
1 Conditions of ‘developmental democracy’: new logic of inclusion and exclusion in globalizing India
2 Streets as spaces of social inclusion and exclusion: the case of street vendors in Ahmedabad
3 The nation-states and exclusion of minorities in India: the case of Gujarati Muslims
Part II Religious identities and Dalits
4 Belonging and being: unpacking Dalit Christian identity
5 Excluding themselves? Dalits converting to Buddhism
6 Affirmative action and exclusion of the Muslim outcastes in West Bengal
7 Marginalization and subversive religious rites: worship of Dharmathakur in West Bengal
Part III Ethnicity and politics of inclusion and exclusion in the north-eastern frontier
8 The forest as a site of conflict: struggles over Indigenous territory in the Bodo areas of Assam
9 Insurgency, citizenship, and entitlements amongst Indian migrant labourers in Nagaland
10 Moral geographies: the problem of sovereignty and indigeneity amongst the Nagas

Citation preview

Rethinking Social Exclusion in India

In recent years, exclusionary policies of the Indian state have raised questions concerning social harmony and economic progress. During the last few decades, the emergence of identity politics has given new lease of life to exclusionary practices in the country. Castes, communities and ethnic groups have re-emerged in almost every sphere of social life. This book analyses different aspects of social exclusion in contemporary India. Divided into three sections – (1) New Forms of Inclusion and Exclusion in Contemporary India, (2) Religious Identities and Dalits and (3) Ethnicity and Politics of Inclusion and Exclusion in the North-Eastern Frontier – the book shows that a shift has taken place in the discourse on inclusion and exclusion. Chapters by experts in their fields explore issues of inclusion and exclusion that merit special attention such as Dalit identity, ethnicity, territoriality and minorities. Authors raise questions about developmental programmes of the state aimed at making India more inclusive and discuss development projects initiated to alleviate socioeconomic conditions of the urban poor in the cities. As far as the north-east region is concerned, the authors argue that there is a tendency to highlight the homogenizing nature of the Indian culture by stressing one history, one language, one social ethos. Diversity is hardly accepted as a social reality, which has adversely affected the inclusive nature of the state. Against this development, the final part of the book looks at questions regarding ethnic minorities in the north-east. Offering new insights into the debate surrounding social exclusion in contemporary India, this book will be of interest to academics studying anthropology, sociology, politics and South Asian studies. Minoru Mio is associate professor at the Department of Globalization and Humanity and director of the Centre for South Asian Studies at the National Museum of Ethnology, Japan. Abhijit Dasgupta is a professor of Sociology at the Delhi School of Economics, University of Delhi, India.

Routledge New Horizons in South Asian Studies Series Editors: Crispin Bates, Edinburgh University; Akio Tanabe, University of Tokyo; Minoru Mio, National Museum of Ethnology, Japan

Democratic Transformation and the Vernacular Public Arena in India Edited by Taberez Ahmed Neyazi, Akio Tanabe and Shinya Ishizaka Cities in South Asia Edited by Crispin Bates and Minoru Mio Human and International Security in India Edited by Crispin Bates, Akio Tanabe and Minoru Mio Rethinking Social Exclusion in India Castes, Communities and the State Edited by Minoru Mio and Abhijit Dasgupta

Rethinking Social Exclusion in India Castes, Communities and the State Edited by Minoru Mio and Abhijit Dasgupta

First published 2018 by Routledge 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4RN and by Routledge 711 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10017 Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business © 2018 selection and editorial material, Minoru Mio and Abhijit Dasgupta; individual chapters, the contributors The right of the editors to be identified as the authors of the editorial material, and of the authors for their individual chapters, has been asserted in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. Trademark notice: Product or corporate names may be trademarks or registered trademarks, and are used only for identification and explanation without intent to infringe. British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Names: Mio, Minoru, editor. | Dasgupta, Abhijit, editor. Title: Rethinking social exclusion in India : castes, communities and the state / [edited by] Minoru Mio and Abhijit Dasgupta. Description: Abingdon, Oxon ; New York, NY : Routledge, 2018. | Series: Routledge new horizons in South Asian studies | Includes bibliographical references and index. Identifiers: LCCN 2017015779 | ISBN 9781138282179 (hardback) | ISBN 9781315270821 (ebook) Subjects: LCSH: Marginality, Social—India. | Social integration—India. | Caste—India. | India—Social policy. Classification: LCC HN690.Z9 M2665755 2018 | DDC 306.0954—dc23 LC record available at ISBN: 978-1-138-28217-9 (hbk) ISBN: 978-1-315-27082-1 (ebk) Typeset in Times New Roman by Apex CoVantage, LLC


Illustrationsvii Acknowledgementsix Notes on contributorsx Introduction




New forms of inclusion and exclusion in contemporary India9   1 Conditions of ‘developmental democracy’: new logic of inclusion and exclusion in globalizing India



  2 Streets as spaces of social inclusion and exclusion: the case of street vendors in Ahmedabad



  3 The nation-states and exclusion of minorities in India: the case of Gujarati Muslims




Religious identities and Dalits71   4 Belonging and being: unpacking Dalit Christian identity



  5 Excluding themselves? Dalits converting to Buddhism KENTA FUNAHASHI


vi Contents   6 Affirmative action and exclusion of the Muslim outcastes in West Bengal



  7 Marginalization and subversive religious rites: worship of Dharmathakur in West Bengal




Ethnicity and politics of inclusion and exclusion in the north-eastern frontier123   8 The forest as a site of conflict: struggles over Indigenous territory in the Bodo areas of Assam



  9 Insurgency, citizenship, and entitlements amongst Indian migrant labourers in Nagaland



10 Moral geographies: the problem of sovereignty and indigeneity amongst the Nagas






Figures 1.1 Voter turn out in Indian parliamentary elections 16 1.2 Increasing representation of people from different castes 16 1.3 Increasing number of political parties: Lok Sabha elections 1952–2009 17 1.4 Vote share of national and regional parties: Lok Sabha elections 1984–200917 1.5 Gini index (%) in Brazil, China and India 22 3.1 Hindu-Muslim riots in India (1950–95) 58 5.1 The population composition of Village V by ‘caste’ 92 5.2 The genealogy of Aman’s family 95

Photographs 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4

Three Gates Street vendors in Manek Chowk A shop resembling a street stall Vendors on the Sabarmati riverbank Collecting scraps from a gated community A statue of Ravidas in Ravidas Mandir in Colony A The rituals during Aman’s second daughter’s wedding ceremony Karvā Chauth day The funeral of a Buddhist in Village V

36 40 41 43 45 93 96 97 98

Tables 2.1 Sales items of stalls at the Bhadra Market (10:00~16: 00, 19 April, 2011) GR: Gandhi Road 2.2 Street vendors and their sales items 2.3 Customers at the Bhadra Market (30 December 2012) 2.4 Customers at the Gujari Bazar (December 2012) 3.1 Poverty incidence across socio-religious categories in 2004–05

39 40 42 46 61

viii Illustrations 3.2 Achievement of Garib Kalyan Mela (2009–11) 3.3 Shares of Muslim employees in selected state governments 3.4 Share of Muslim employees in selected state government departments

61 63 63

Maps 5.1 5.2 8.1 8.2

Village V A rough map of Village V Proposed union territory of Udayachal Bodoland territorial autonomous district

91 94 128 130


The chapters in this volume examine some aspects of inclusion and exclusion in contemporary India. Scholars from Japan, UK and India contributed in various ways towards publication of this book. Most of these chapters were presented in an international conference held at Japfu Christian College, Kohima, Nagaland, on 21 and 22 of December 2012. The conference was funded by the Young Researcher Overseas Visits Program for Accelerating Brain Circulation Scheme by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, the National Museum of Ethnology, Osaka and the Northeast Centre of the Indian Council of Social Science Research. We express our gratitude to these funding organizations. We thank Prof. Visakhonuo Hibo, principal of the Nagaland Christian College, for hospitality and for ensuring all possible logistical support to the participants of the conference. It was just the right location for the conference: an excluded space in the true sense of the term. A large number of scholars from the north-east universities joined the conference and took an active part in the discussions. We are grateful to the rappoteurs Dr. Dulali Nag (Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management), Dr. Suryakant Waghmore (Tata Institute of Social Science) and commentators Dr. Hia Sen (Presidency University, Kolkata), Dr. Riho Isaka (University of Tokyo), Dr. Toshie Awaya (Tokyo University for Foreign Studies) and Dr. Shinya Ishizaka (Kyoto University) of this conference. For additional assistance, we owe a great deal to Ms. Sohini Ghosh, and to Ms. Prama Mukhopadhyay for preparing the index. Minoru Mio Abhijit Dasgupta

Notes on contributors

Rita Banerjee is an associate professor at the Centre for English Studies, School of Language, Literature, and Culture Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India. Apart from her work in her area of specialization, she pursues interdisciplinary research. She has published articles on subaltern deities and rituals in Bengal. She is currently working on a book on representations of India in early modern travel narratives and researching political movements in West Bengal. She has translated Suprakash Roy’s Peasant Revolts and Democratic Struggles in India (1999). Abhijit Dasgupta is professor, Department of Sociology, University of Delhi, India. He has published several books including Growth with Equity (1998) and Displacement and Exile (2016), and edited Minorities and the State (2012) and On the Margins: Tribes, Castes and Other Social Categories (2013). Kenta Funahashi is a research fellow at the Center for South Asian Studies, Ryukoku University, Kyoto, Japan, and the National Institutes for the Humanities, Japan. Funahashi has an interest in Dalit issues in India, especially Buddhist conversion movements, and is majoring in cultural anthropology and South Asian area studies. His recent publications are “Converted-Buddhists” Living in Contemporary India (Genndai Inndo ni Ikiru ‘Kaisyu Bukkyoto’), Showado, 2014, in Japanese; “Living as a ‘Minority’: A Case of Buddhist-Dalits in Contemporary Uttar Pradesh”, The South Asianist 2 (1), pp. 28–39, 2013. Michael Heneise is a social anthropologist at the Kohima Institute, where he is also a trustee. He has carried out fieldwork among indigenous communities in upland South America and South Asia, most recently among the Nagas in North-East India, where he explored the relationship between dreams, personhood and political imagination. His interests generally encompass the intersection between ancestral knowledge, spirituality and modernity. He maintains a long-term interest in medical anthropology, the works of Maurice MerleauPonty and liberation theology. He is the editor-in-chief of the South Asianist journal and co-editor of the Highlander, a new area studies journal of highland Asia. Both journals are open access and published by the University of Edinburgh where he received his PhD.

Notes on contributors xi Ayako Iwatani is an associate professor at the Graduate School of Global Environmental Studies, Kyoto University, Japan. She is interested in “Gypsy”/Roma studies and anthropology of migration. Her recent publications are “Dreaming and Magic: On Recent Devotion to Magical Beings among the Vaghri, a Semi-Nomadic Community in Tamil Nadu”, 2006, Journal of the Japanese Association for South Asian Studies, 18: 1–23; and Yume to Mimesis no Zinruigaku: Indo o Ikinuku Syogyo Idomi Vaghri (“Anthropology of Dreaming and Mimesis: Survival Tactics of the Vaghri, the Commercial Nomads in India”) (in Japanese), 2009, Akashi Syoten. Anderson H. M. Jeremiah is a lecturer in the Department of Politics, Philosophy and Religion at Lancaster University, UK. He teaches and researches in developing a localised perspective of the growth and expansion of Global Christianity. He is the author of Community and Worldview among Paraiyars of South India: ‘Lived’ Religion (Bloomsbury, 2012). His main research focus is rearticulating Dalit Christian identity, history and culture in India. He has also published widely on the heterogeneity and plurality of lived Christian experience in different global contexts, thus bringing to focus the interface between culture, worldview and belief within Christianity. Makiko Kimura is an associate professor at Faculty of Liberal Arts, Tsuda University, Tokyo, Japan. She is interested in ethnic relations and movements/ conflicts in Northeast India. Her recent publications are ‘A Fluid Homeland: Erosion, Displacement and Life in the Char-Chapori Areas of Assam’, 2016, in Lipokmar Dzuvichu, G. Amarjit Sharma and Manjeet Baruah, eds., Fixity and Fluidity: History, Politics and Culture of North East India, New Delhi: Jawaharlal Nehru University, pp. 122–132; The Nellie Massacre of 1983: Agency of Rioters, 2013, New Delhi: Sage Publications; and ‘Ethnic Conflict and Violence Against Internally Displaced Persons: A Case Study of the Bodoland Movement and Ethnic Clashes’ in International Journal of South Asian Studies, Volume 5, 2013. Arkotong Longkumer is an anthropologist, who is a lecturer in Religious Studies at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, UK. He is the author of Reform, Identity and Narratives of Belonging: The Heraka Movement of Northeast India (Continuum, 2010) and has published in journals such as Himalaya, South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies, HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory, Contemporary South Asia and Religion. He is currently writing a book on Hindu nationalism in Northeast India and Hindu nationalists’ engagement with indigenous peoples. Minoru Mio is associate professor at the Department of Globalization and Humanity and director of the Centre for South Asian Studies at the National Museum of Ethnology, Japan. He is interested in socio-cultural anthropological study of Indian popular religious practice. His recent publications include Cities in South Asia (co-edited with Crispin Bates, London, Routledge, 2015)

xii  Notes on contributors and “Young Men’s Public Activities and Hindu Nationalism: Naviyuvak Mandals and the Sangh Parivar in a Western Indian Town” in David Gellner (ed.), Ethnic Activism and Civil Society in South Asia (New Delhi, Sage, 2009). Kazuya Nakamizo is currently professor at the Graduate School of Asian and African Area Studies, Kyoto University, Japan. He received his PhD in political science from the University of Tokyo, Japan. He specializes in socio-political research of South Asia, with an emphasis on the relationship between poverty, violence and democracy. His publications include “Democracy and Violence in India: The Example of Bihar”, in Bates, Crispin, Tanabe and Mio (eds), Human and International Security in India, Oxon, Routledge, 2016, pp. 110– 127; and “Poverty and Inequality under Democratic Competition: Dalit Policy in Bihar”, in Yuko (ed), Inclusive Growth and Development in India: Challenges for Underdeveloped Regions and the Underclass, Basingstoke and New York, Palgrave-Macmillan, 2014, pp. 157–180. Akio Tanabe is a professor at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Tokyo, Japan. He specializes in anthropological and historical research of South Asia, with an emphasis on caste, religion, state and market; democratization and social change; and South Asian path of development. His publications include Caste and Equality: Historical Anthropology of Local Society and Vernacular Democracy in Eastern India (in Japanese) (University of Tokyo Press, 2010) and Democratic Transformation and the Vernacular Public Arena in India (London: Routledge, 2014) as co-editor.

Introduction Minoru Mio and Abhijit Dasgupta

At the time of Independence, Indian citizens hoped that democracy, universal adult franchise and a new constitution would guarantee inclusive character of the state and that those who were excluded from social, economic and political processes under the colonial rule would get an opportunity to unite with the rest. However, after six decades of Independence, it is quite evident that exclusionary processes are dividing citizens in different spheres of social life. The chapters in this book highlight the nature of exclusionary processes in India, especially in social, economic, religious and political arenas. Today, the state has to deal with issues pertaining to social exclusion of Dalits, tribals, minorities and women almost on a daily basis. The debate on inclusion and exclusion in the Indian caste system began way back in the 1950s when D. F. Pocock drew our attention to this process among the Patidars of Gujarat. He noted, To speak of inclusion is to recognize at once its corollary exclusion. A caste that includes itself with a superior at the same time excludes an inferior and we shall see that this is also the case within the caste. By using the very name of Patidar a low section includes itself with the highest section of the Patidar caste. Since in the eyes of an outsider belonging to another caste, the Patidar caste is a unity, such a claim endangers the status of highest levels and consequently of the caste as a whole in the area. A Patidar of Matugan cannot say that Patidar of Nanugan is of low status without calling his own status in question. As we have seen, the difficulty is solved by the custom of hypergamy or marriage circles. The higher levels excludes the lower by refusing to give their daughters in marriage and in this way preserve their distinctiveness without suffering a rupture in the caste. (1957: 39) According to Pocock, then, two opposite forces were at work among the Patidars of Gujarat, which would appear as some kind of paradox. This was not an isolated case; the process was noticed in many parts of India. Inclusion and exclusion and their implications in the Indian caste system have remained a popular topic for research for several decades. The problem was examined at length by scholars who studied caste ranking with reference to interactional and attributional

2  Minoru Mio and Abhijit Dasgupta theories. Studies showed why some castes are excluded in day-to-day social interactions and in sharing food. For instance, the Brahmins included some castes within its social circle by accepting water from them and excluded others from whom they never accepted water. In the same way, the social circle of the Brahmins included those castes whom it served, and excluded the rest. Such practices are not only restricted among the Brahmins, almost all other castes followed such practices; they permeated down the social ladder and touched even the outcastes. Sociological studies on the Indian caste system in recent years have shown that these opposite forces are still at work, dividing almost all the caste and sub-castes. In contemporary India, a shift has taken place in the discourse on inclusion and exclusion. Scholars are now exploring the problem of exclusion among Dalits or those who are regarded as outcastes. These chapters shed new light on the life stories of Dalits, discriminations that they encounter in everyday life and atrocities and violence that take place against them. Some of these accounts highlight not only exploitation of Dalits by the higher castes but also by those who are known as backward castes. The latter managed to do this because of their newfound economic prosperity, political clout and numerical dominance. This is why M. S. S. Pandian noted, The political biography of Tamil Nadu during the 1990s was marked by increasing caste conflicts between the backward castes and Dalits. In the northern district of the state, the backward caste Thevars and Devendra Kula Vellalars were the key players in such conflicts. In these areas the conflict, by and large, takes place between the most backward caste Vanniyars and the Parayars. (2000: 197) With the loss of political hegemony over Dalits, the backward castes are now resorting to violence to fulfil their objectives in states such as UP, Bihar, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh (popularly known as the ‘Hindi belt’). Even among Dalits, those who have power and resources are now excluding those who are lacking them. In recent years, as noted earlier, the discourse on inclusion and exclusion has shifted from caste and religion to new areas of research such as Dalit identity, ethnicity, territoriality, minorities and so on. One of the objectives of the present volume is to examine some of these new areas of research where issues of inclusion and exclusion merit special attention. In this volume, several authors have raised questions about the developmental programme of the state that aimed at making India more inclusive. They are of the view that some of these programmes have ended up by widening the gap between the privileged and the underprivileged. For instance, the affirmative action programme of the state in the form of quota had several unintended consequences. The Other Backward Classes (OBC) list included many socially and economically backward classes, but a close scrutiny of the list will show that several groups have been left out. This is particularly the case with the disadvantaged sections among the minorities. Inclusion of a large number of castes as OBCs who are numerically dominant in some states created

Introduction 3 a large number of problems. Today, the Jats in Rajathan and UP, and the Patidars in Gujarat are on a warpath for their inclusion in the OBC list. The Gujjars in Rajasthan are now demanding inclusion of their caste on the list of the Scheduled Tribes (ST). Moreover, non-implementation of the provision for a ‘creamy layer’ from the ambit of reservation has again created more schisms between those at the upper echelons of the OBCs, who are the beneficiaries of the quota system, and those who hardly gained anything from it. The processes of inclusion and exclusion are more complex today than they used to be a few decades back. Caste is replacing class, ethnicity and other forms of social inequality. The contributors in this volume have tried to draw our attention to the fact that there is a need to shift our focus from the study of caste-based inequality to one based on class, ethnicity, religion and other new juridical categories such as the OBCs. During the last two decades, with economic growth in the country, several new development projects had been undertaken in some of the cities in the country. The objective of these projects was inclusionary in nature; they were meant to alleviate socio-economic conditions of the urban poor in the cities. In this volume, several authors have shown that development projects have hardly benefitted those who remained on the margins in cities and towns. These projects also created a new space for participation of so far suppressed minority groups in overall democratic debates for securing human rights and for a fair share of the fruits of economic development. In India, concepts such as ‘nation’ and ‘state’ hardly take note of aspirations of the ethnic communities, their identities, histories and territorial diversities. There is a tendency now to highlight the homogenizing nature of the Indian culture by stressing one history, one language and one social ethos. Diversity is hardly accepted as a social reality. This has adversely affected the nation-building process as ethnic groups and minorities are carving out a space for themselves. Against this development, some of the contributors in the present volume examine questions of the ethnic minorities in the north-east. The volume is divided into three thematically linked sections. The first section focuses on this emerging new form of inclusion and exclusion in Indian politics and society in the era of globalization and liberalization. Akio Tanabe’s chapter begins with a positive note since he argues that institutions such as local government, various administrative bodies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), schools, companies, banks and shops allowed diverse social groups such as Dalits, Adivasis, OBCs, minorities, women and other underprivileged sections to become part of the wider processes of democratization, and this has led to the emergence of wide networks of markets. To a large extent, this development has blurred the distinction between the elites and the subalterns – the rulers and the ruled. There is a need today to understand inclusion and exclusion from the perspective of what Tanabe calls ‘development democracy’. He points out that development democracy allows increasing public participation of diverse social groups with contending viewpoints, interests and values. According Tanabe, “this is a churning process that includes contention, frustration, and antagonism but hopefully leads to a more inclusive society”. Some of the indicators that may be used to test this new development are (a) political participation by the people,

4  Minoru Mio and Abhijit Dasgupta (b) the spread of a pluralistic multi-layered public sphere, (c) economic development led by the service sector and (d) importance of the informal sector. Therefore, the discussions on inclusion and exclusion need to take note of all these recent developments for a better understanding of the problem. Ayako Iwatani’s chapter illustrates spaces in urban settings where these “churning processes” are going on. Based on her own ethnographic fieldwork in Ahmedabad, in two locations known as the Bhadra Market and Gujari Bazar, she clearly shows us that a vibrant urban street is a contested space for everyday inclusion and exclusion. In these markets, the roadside vendors are mostly migrants trying to eke out a living by selling food items, jewelleries, handicrafts and used garments. The buyers are mostly from the underprivileged sections of the society except some belonging to the middle class who for several reasons prefer these shops. However, globalization and liberalization blurred the distinction between different types of markets, as understood by the Gujratis in Ahmedabad. Vendors and their customers’ are now subaltern citizens who are taking part in the global economy. However, the vendors and stall owners are always under the threat of forcible eviction by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation and other agencies that are involved in the city beautification and restructuring enterprise, which reflects the desire and aesthetics of the globalized middle class. Iwatani shows that the excluded shop owners and vendors often fight against forcible eviction and make full use of their agency. NGOs, such as the Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) and others that are concerned with globalizing citizens’ consciousness and practice, are also trying to intervene in the conflicts, but that does not undermine agency of the marginalized groups. The two are complimentary to each other, working to alleviate the condition of the street vendors. Thus the contemporary Indian urban street has become a space for negotiation of various stakeholders; globalization is transforming the civil society in multifarious ways. Following Iwatani, Kazuya Nakamizo too critiques political processes in the state of Gujarat, especially measures undertaken for inclusion and exclusion. He takes up the case of the Muslims in the state after the 2002 riot. He is of the view that in order to follow the complex situation of the minority communities in Gujarat, it is important to examine the developments in the post-Partition phase. Initially, the Gujarat state government wanted to reach out to the minority communities by implementing a series of welfare measures. However, today, the Muslims are in no better position than the Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Tribes. A comprehensive review of conditions of the Muslim community in India can be found in the Government of India Report (2006) which is popularly known as Sachar Committee Report. Nakamizo observes that the report showed that the condition of the Muslims in Gujarat was no better than that in other parts of the country. He points out that to examine the merits in the report, one can take note of poverty, education and employment. In 2004–05, in the state of Gujarat, 31% of Muslims remained below the poverty line, which was higher than the percentage in many other states in the country. In the field of education, the state did little to fulfil the educational aspirations of the Muslims. They did not have access to better schools and centres of higher learning. The most glaring example of the

Introduction  5 exclusion of the Muslims may be noted in the field of employment. Only 9% of the Muslims have been gainfully employed in the public sector as compared to the all-India estimate of 16%. Nakamizo observes that exclusion of different Muslim occupational groups form the OBC list is one of the reasons behind this low percentage of Muslims in public-sector jobs. Options before the Muslims in the state are limited. However, the electoral politics, universal adult franchise, central government developmental planning and judicial intervention are now the main sources of empowerment for the Muslims in the state. The second section of this volume takes us to the debate on Dalits and OBCs, from somewhat different perspectives. It is well known that there are religious minorities who are like Dalits. But it has not yet been well examined how they are integrated with and at the same time distanced from the other communities. The first three chapters of the second section take up these ‘minorities among minorities’ to analyse their identity formation under changing socio-economic conditions. These discussions will also elucidate logic behind exclusion/inclusion of Dalits on the whole. Firstly, Anderson H. M. Jeremiah focuses on the social construction of Dalit Christian identity. He deals with some markers that contribute to the formation of Dalit Christian identity in South India. To examine the construction of the identity, Jeremiah takes into account social commensality, self-perception, imposed and absorbed behaviour, stereotyping and name calling. Then Kenta Funahashi takes us to the world of converted Buddhist-Dalits in Western UP, those who are known as Jatavs or Chamars. Dalits have accepted Buddhism as their religion without giving up Hindu rituals and practices. They identify themselves as the followers of Ravidas, especially in their practice of the teachings of Ravidas. Funahashi notes that as a result of them following Ravidas, a unique syncretism has developed among the Buddhist-Dalits. Ravidasis, in their everyday life, follow both Hindu and Buddhist rituals. After conversion, they do not reject all that they had inherited. Abhijit Dasgupta examines with the help of ethnographic material that the Muslim outcastes in West Bengal have been overlooked in the affirmative action programme of the state. The OBC list of the state of West Bengal excluded many outcaste-like Muslims. This is why the Sachar Committee Report criticized the state government policies on the Muslims, especially those who are called arzals or who are like Dalits in Hindu society. The report recommended inclusion of arzals, or Muslim Dalits, in the OBC/SC list, as their position is more or less similar to the Hindu-Dalits. Dasgupta argues that the state policy of affirmative action is exclusionary by nature; it has remained contentious, especially in the context of the reservation for the OBCs. In certain cases, the marginalized groups maintain their distinctive religious identities without merging with the mainstream religious groups. This is what Rita Banerjee tries to explore in her chapter. In the last chapter of this part, she deals with religious practice and its logic, which works on the fault line of subalternity. According to her, Dharmathakur was a pre-Aryan or non-Aryan deity of the indigenous communities of Bengal, primarily worshiped by the lower castes and untouchables, although occasionally worshiped by upper castes also. Despite his

6  Minoru Mio and Abhijit Dasgupta later appropriation by upper-caste Hindus, Dharmathakur’s character as a deity is distinctively different from that of the Brahmanical gods. While the import of Brahmanical rituals suggests a desire to assimilate and conform, there is an urge to continue indigenous practices such as the attempt to conform to folk and popular literature rather than officially sanctioned liturgy, the worship and consumption of toddy, of communal feasts and the emphasis on the body as opposed to the spirit. They show resistance to appropriation and a need to maintain one’s identity. The history and the practice of Dharma worship, as a marginalized cult in Bengal, is marked by contradictory and conflicting yearnings. Her nuanced approach to subaltern religious practice strongly reminds us of the eternally dynamic and essentially porous nature of socio-religious demarcations among Indian communities. Porosity does not mean mutation of the voices of the subalterns, as the worshipping of Dharmathakur exemplifies the opposite. Voices against social exclusion, then, find a medium of expression which is worshipping a non-Aryan deity. For several decades, the north-eastern states in India were in political turmoil. A large number of social and political factors have alienated all those who live in this part of the country. Here migration has remained a contested issue for several decades, as it is believed that migrants have changed the demographic landscape in the region. Moreover, the demand for self-rule, more regional autonomy and the withdrawal of central armed forces has added a new dimension to an already explosive political situation. In the study of social exclusion, ethnic identity and conflicts have been undeservedly less discussed in the bulk of Indian sociological as well as political literature. But as we shift our focus to the north-eastern states, we find the significance of ethnicity as a basis for social exclusion. The three chapters of the third section directly tackle this issue. Makiko Kimura points out that in some regions in the country, such as Bodoland in Assam, the Bodos oppose the inclusive policies of the state. The migrant Muslims feel that they are excluded from the mainstream society. A sense of alienation after an unsuccessful attempt to form Bodoland led to tensions in the region. The othering of the non-Bodos and protests against land grabbing by the migrants ended up in violent conflicts between the two groups, which led to loss of lives in the region during the last few decades. Here religious identities and ethnic identities have long intersected each other in a complicated way. Careful extrication of this entanglement is obviously necessary for the construction of a more inclusive society. However, the goal seems to be an uphill task for the Indian state. Michael Heneise’s chapter examines the ways in which Indian migrant labourers in Nagaland aspire for better work opportunities, while negotiating labour laws, sectarian isolation and elusive state entitlements in the midst of deeply rooted customary laws and larger unresolved political contingencies. Based on ethnographic research, the chapter argues that the lack of services and protections for migrant labourers in the state can be attributed to both long-standing negligence on the part of India’s policymakers and to significant cultural barriers. The chapter suggests four important points which account for these developments in the state. First, postcolonial India has long privileged capitalist expansion over the

Introduction 7 politics of democracy, thus systematically ignoring migrant labour – despite its indisputable role in India’s growth. Second, in the context of Nagaland, constitutionally protected customary laws and deeply rooted segmentary social structures govern state resources and institutions, state welfare programs and state entitlements to village kinship groups. Third, as the church benefits from the increasing wealth of its members, it is reluctant to confront corruption, often spiritualizing social discontent. Fourth, though the cheap labour of distressed migration fuels Nagaland’s growth, re-emergent Naga nationalism and anti-immigrant sentiment threaten to destabilize the tenuous political calm. Therefore, in a place like Nagaland, a migrant labourer is doubly disadvantaged, first as a migrant and then as a labourer. Finally, Arkotong Longkumer explores the significance of Christianity in the conceptualization of a nation by the Nagas. He explains why we need to rethink the traditional form of sovereignty comprising strong nation-states that allows for difference. He emphasized that the moral idea of geography that includes rights of the Christians and indigenous people has shaped Naga identity. Although the Nagas are incorporated in the Indian nation, they asserted their difference at the time of Independence and on other occasions. Today, with transnational links, the Nagas are involved in the articulation of a new form of sovereignty and nation-state. The chapters in this volume explore various aspects of social exclusion as far as caste, communities and ethnic groups are concerned. However, it needs to be emphasized that there are common issues that cut across all these groups. In this connection, the role of the state in accentuating social exclusion merits our attention. The state policies not only alienated the Muslims in the state of Gujarat; they were also instrumental in displacing a large number of street vendors in the streets of Ahmedabad. The attempts by the state to empower the OBCs hardly took note of several groups of minorities that were deprived like Other Backward Classes. The state in Nagaland remained indifferent towards the plight of the migrants who were engaged in construction work. Away from their native states, they led a liminal existence in Nagaland. One can cite many such examples to highlight alienating influence of the Indian state policies. Two other recurring themes may be mentioned here. First, a community asserts its identity in multifarious ways, often by rejecting the hegemonic ideology of those who occupy a higher position in the social hierarchy. This was evident in the case of worship of Dharmathakur by the lower castes in West Bengal or in the practice of Christianity by the Nagas. Second, rejection of hegemonic ideologies often takes place by adoption of homogeneity or belief in the sameness of ethnic or other characteristics. This is a recurring theme in many of the chapters, especially in the account on the Bodos in North-East India. Therefore, one finds several underlying sub-themes cutting across different studies in the present volume. Finally, we may add that the theories and concepts that helped us in examining social exclusion during the last few decades are in need of revaluation. This, indeed, was the primary objective of the chapters in the present volume, and this has been done with the help of empirical data.

8  Minoru Mio and Abhijit Dasgupta

References Dumont, Louis.1998. Homo Hierarchicus: The Caste System and Its Implications. Delhi: Oxford University Press. pp. 79–91. Pandian, M. S. S.2000. ‘Dalit Assertion in Tamil Nadu: An Exploratory Road’, Journal of Indian Political Economy, 12 (3 & 4): 501–17. Pococok, David F.1957. ‘Inclusion and Exclusion: A Process in the Caste System of Gujarat’, Southwestern Journal of Anthropology, 13 (1) Spring: 19–31. The Government of India .2006. Social, Economic and Educational Status of the Muslim Community in India: A Report. New Delhi: 2006.

Part I

New forms of inclusion and exclusion in contemporary India

1 Conditions of ‘developmental democracy’ New logic of inclusion and exclusion in globalizing India Akio Tanabe 1.1 Introduction – new logic of inclusion and exclusion in globalizing India This chapter attempts to discuss the new logic of inclusion and exclusion in globalizing India and tries to assess its potentiality as well as limitation. Contemporary India is experiencing a deepening of democracy and growth of market economy where there is increasing political and socio-economic participation from below and at the same time the penetration of governance and capital into everyday life. As Giddens points out, “The global experiment of modernity intersects with, and influences as it is influenced by, the penetration of modern institutions into the tissue of day-to-day life” (Giddens 1994: 58). The penetration of modern institutions such as local government, administrative bodies and NGOs as well as private schools, companies, banks and shops, is very evident in almost all corners of India. This does not mean, however, that there is unidirectional encompassment of Indian society by the institutions of governance and capital from above. What is notable is that there is a process of subjectification and participation of diverse social groups – Dalits, Adivasis, OBC, minorities, women, people from rural areas, towns and cities, middle classes – in the widening sphere of democratization and marketization. In other words, we can no longer understand the present situation in India in terms of the elite/subaltern dichotomy where subalterns are excluded from the national space occupied by the elite (Guha 1982). Previous agendas in Indian society have encompassed how to include the subalterns who have been hitherto excluded from national politics and economic development. Underlying such agendas was the reality of a clear division between citizens who were part of the nation-state and subalterns who were excluded from this space and denied agency. The subalterns were without voice and place in the national politics and economy. However, in today’s globalizing world, everyone is increasingly permeated and mediated by institutions, technology and discourse of market and governance as they insinuate into the everyday. That is to say, there is no longer a ‘pure space of subalternity’ left outside the globalizing world. Here almost all localities and bodies are connected and mediated by the workings of the institutions of governance and market, such as

12  Akio Tanabe government bodies, political parties, industrial corporations, the mass media, NGOs and people’s organizations. In this context, the previous attempts at recovering ‘authentic subaltern voices’ loses its relevance, and our attention must shift to how the newly emerging ex-subaltern agencies and voices are mediated and represented, as well as disregarded, marginalized and, at times, brutally excluded by these institutions. The new agenda is to investigate to what extent this globalizing situation enables participation and inclusion or results in marginalization and exclusion of various social groups in democratic processes and market economy. In this chapter, we try to look at this question from the perspective of ‘developmental democracy’. By this, we point to an aspect of the politico-economic regime of India after the 1990s, which has aimed at not only development under democracy but also the deepening of democracy through human and social development, by promoting the opportunities of popular public participation. To what extent has this aspect of policy worked to include the diverse subjects in the democratic politics and market economy? What are the remaining agendas?

1.2 Contradictions between democracy and the market – and beyond In today’s India, there are two contending views on the present state of democracy in India: success and failure. On the bright side, diverse voices are raised invigorating democratic politics, while, on the dark side, chronic poverty and inequality continues. How can we understand these two aspects of Indian politics in a coherent manner where inclusion and exclusion take place at the same time? We are of the view that the politicization and criticism of poverty and inequality is leading to the increasing participation of the hitherto marginalized populations, which leads to further dialogue, negotiation and conflict among diverse voices in Indian politics. Thus the deepening of democracy also accentuates the present predicament of the poor and the marginalized, and vice versa (Mehta 2003). This mutual process, which includes inner contradiction, supports the rise of ‘developmental democracy’, where there is increasing public participation of diverse social groups with contending viewpoints, interests and values. This is a churning process that includes contention, frustration and antagonism, but hopefully leads to a more inclusive society. Here let us see what has happened so far. What is remarkable about contemporary India is that there has been simultaneous democratic deepening and economic development, especially since the 1990s. While political and public participation from below by the subalterns such as the low-caste people, tribals, religious minorities and women grew consistently, India has also maintained an economic growth rate exceeding an average of 6% per year for more than 20 years. This is a situation worth noting. Historically speaking, democracy has only been established after economic development had been achieved through industrialization in other parts of the world. Besides India, no country has brought about industrial development after having established democracy (Varshney 1995). How has this been possible? To pose the question

Conditions of ‘developmental democracy’ 13 in another way, how is India attempting to overcome the contradictions of an equality-oriented democratic state and the disparity-inducing global market? Kothari is of the opinion that equality-seeking democratic politics and the disparity-producing, neo-liberalist economy are in contradiction with each other. This is a view that sees the contemporary Indian economy as being one that operates on the ‘corporate capitalist model’. Kothari points out that the “rise of technocratic mode of capitalism” increasingly constrains the proper functioning of democracy in the nation-state (Kothari 2005). Kohli takes a different view and states that the contemporary Indian political economy is being driven forward by collaboration between a developmental state and corporate capital in which the state attempts to legitimize such measures by redistributing state resources to the people and thus securing their votes. According to this understanding, the development model of the Indian economy would be close to that of the East Asian countries, except that India’s democratic set-up forces her to make a compromise with the people (Kohli 2006, 2012). These two views differ in that Kothari sees the nature of the contemporary Indian economy as being based on Western neoliberal market-principles, while Kohli sees it in terms of an East Asian–style collaboration between the state and capital. While emphasis differs, both interpretations presuppose that the forces propelling the current economy forward and the directionality of democracy are in contradiction. There is either-or understanding between national democracy and market economy, where corporate capitalism is seen to impede democracy, while redistribution by democratic pressure is seen to compromise the workings of the capital and market. If we were to pay attention to the workings of the economy centring on big capital and large corporations, we would certainly find that these work in the opposite direction to the nature of equality-oriented democracy. It is true that a group of large corporations, supported by a combination of technocracy and market-based principles, forms one pole of the Indian economy, while a large number of people who have no connection with this big-capital-centred economy oppose such elitist politics that promotes this economy and insist that a more democratic and egalitarian society be formed. Out of the three dominant classes in modern India – the rich farmer, the industrial capitalist and the professionals in the public sectors – the industrial capitalist has become ascendant with the advent of globalization, and there is a tendency for these people to become connected with state power (Bardhan 1984; Gupta 2012: 280). In addition, as with, for example, the anti-Muslim Hindu nationalists in Gujarat, or the Maratha supremacist campaigning against immigrants in Maharashtra, there are often cases in which political forces aligned with industrial capital are linked with majoritarian politics which marginalize minorities. It cannot be denied that in these cases, economic development centred on industrial capital and backed up by political authority is facing in the opposite direction to the people-centred democracy that attempts to listen to diverse voices. This kind of view, however, sees only one aspect of the reality. The problem with such a perspective is that it only reiterates the conventional framework

14  Akio Tanabe where efficiency-seeking governance and capital-led economic development is placed on one side, and the role of the democratic state to carry out poverty reduction through redistribution is placed on the other. This would lead us to a cul-de-sac where it is impossible to resolve the contradiction between the market economy and state democracy, and results in the end in a facile dichotomy of whether to adopt Western market-based principles or East Asian authoritarianism. However, the way today’s India somehow manages both democratic deepening and economic growth does not seem to follow either Western or East Asian path. We would like to suggest that there might be South Asian path of development in history whose potential is manifesting itself through developmental democracy in contemporary India (cf. Roy 2002; Sugihara 2003, 2004). How has it been possible for today’s India to somehow manage both democratic deepening and economic growth at the same time? Here Partha Chatterjee’s argument following Sanyal gives us a hint towards understanding how democracy and development are connected with each other in today’s India (Chatterjee 2008). He argues that the process of democratization as well as the function of redistribution by the state provided the peasants and the exsubalterns with the means to participate in the economy based on non-corporate capital. According to Sanyal and Chatterjee, although there is inevitable primitive accumulation of capital in which peasants lose their land and other means of production with the economic development, the government under electoral democracy provides them with the state resources so that people can meet their basic needs of livelihood. In this way, there is simultaneous continuity and development of both political society related to non-corporate capital that is concerned with fulfilling livelihood needs and civil society related to corporate capital that seeks profit making. While Chatterjee’s argument sheds light on one aspect of the linkage between democracy and development, his view does not go beyond the dichotomy between the corporate capital related to ‘politics of economic growth’ (civil society) and non-corporate capital related to national democracy and ‘politics of redistribution’ (political society) (Chatterjee 2004, 2011). In fact, he seems to stress the contradiction between the two, which is only thinly connected to redistribution. This kind of framework does not sufficiently explain the process of democratization and economic development where the large number of ex-subalterns – peasants, urban poor, Dalits, tribals, etc. – play increasingly important politico-economic roles as active agents and not mere recipients and spenders of the redistributed resources.1 We would like to propose here that contemporary India indicates the potential for a model of development that differs from the presupposition of the contradiction between democracy and market economy. To realize its potential, we must change our understanding of what is happening to democratic politics and economic development in contemporary India. It is important to note that in India, the economy is not necessarily being directed only by the state-led and big-capital-led initiatives, and the people are not necessarily demanding redistribution alone

Conditions of ‘developmental democracy’  15 under the present democratic system. In fact, there seems to be much broader linkages between democracy and development, as well as between livelihood and growth in contemporary India. In order to comprehend one further aspect of contemporary Indian political and economic dynamism, we must broaden our frame of reference beyond the conventional framework of looking at the relationship between the state and market to include society where people’s daily lives are taking place and where the expansion of the contemporary lifeworld links the local community to the global world. That is, we need to look at the dynamics of the global network in which the state, the market and society are interwoven. We believe that the key to understanding the simultaneous advance of democracy and the market economy in contemporary India is to see that while economic liberalization and devolution of power have been taking place, people belonging to various classes and diverse social groups have gained both political and economic agency. It is our contention that within the contradiction of the market economy and state democracy, people in society are bringing about a new dynamism that bridges these in the exercise of political and economic agency. This understanding may indicate the new potentials in ‘developmental democracy’ in the global age that can mediate the global market economy and national democracy.

1.3 The progress of political participation by the people Seen from the normative standpoints of rationality, liberalism and the rule of law, we can hardly avoid giving contemporary Indian democracy a low evaluation. In particular, since the coalition government of 1989 was created, when many people from various classes of society including ‘low’ castes such as OBCs that differed from the elite that had hitherto made up the Parliament and cabinet entered politics, the discourse and content of politics have undergone a significant qualitative change. It is generally considered that the quality of debates in Parliament subsequently has deteriorated and the fact shows that less time has been spent on debates (Sato 2009). From the standpoint of political participation by the people, however, it is possible to see the political participation from below as a remarkable achievement by Indian democracy. More than 700 million people in India now have voting rights, and this is why the country is known as ‘the world’s largest democracy’. In the 15 elections to the lower house (Lok Sabha) of the Parliament of India held till 2009, the voter turnout in the first election in 1952 was 61.16%, the turnout in 2009 was 58.19% and the average for the whole period was 59.18%. While there has been some variation in the turnout from year to year, there has been an almost constant high turnout for elections in India (Figure 1.1). It is common to find in other countries that the voter turnout among low-income and poorly educated groups is low, but from the 1990s onward, higher turnouts have continued in India for the lower classes and religious minorities. In the national Lok Sabha elections of 2009, the voter turnouts across social classes, castes, religious groups and gender were all roughly the same percentage.

16  Akio Tanabe

Figure 1.1 Voter turn out in Indian parliamentary elections Source:

Other Upper Castes Brahmins 1952 1957 1902 1967 1971 1977 1980 1984 1989 1991 1996 2004

40 30 20 10 0

Other Backward Castes

Figure 1.2 Increasing representation of people from different castes Source: Kumar (2010: 91). Figures in y-axis in percent

Looking at the caste composition of elected members to the Lok Sabha, whereas in the 1952 election Brahmins accounted for 24%, other high castes 25% and OBCs 12%, in the 1989 election, these proportions were, respectively, 14%, 29% and 22%, and in the 2004 election, they were 10%, 28% and 30%, showing a remarkable surge of the OBCs (Figure 1.2). The numbers of political parties taking part in the elections have shown a dramatic increase from 55 in 1952, to 117 in 1989 and then 370 in 2009. Of these, 37 parties won parliamentary seats in 2009. In contrast, the number of national parties has hardly changed from eight in 1952 to seven in 2009. The remaining parties are regional parties based in one or several states (Figure 1.3). Extremely diverse social groups have attained political participation since 1989, and from the 1990s onward, the importance of state-level politics and administration has increased. The regional parties serve as the medium through which the differing and diverse needs and interests of these social groups and regions are reflected (Figure 1.4).

Conditions of ‘developmental democracy’ 17 400 300

No. of Parties Contesting Election


No. of National Parties

100 1952 1957 1962 1967 1971 1977 1980 1984 1989 1991 1996 1998 1999 2004 2009


No. of Parties Represented in Parliament

Figure 1.3 Increasing number of political parties: Lok Sabha elections 1952–2009 Source: Kumar (2010: 78)

60 50



Regional Parties








1984 1989 1991 1996 1998 1999 2004 2009

Figure 1.4 Vote share of national and regional parties: Lok Sabha elections 1984–2009 Source: Kumar (2010: 79)

However, as a result of the large increase in the number of political parties, coordination between the parties in the coalition government has come to be more time consuming, thus it has become more difficult to formulate effective policies. If the original and required role of political parties was to put forward universal and consistent policy proposals by taking into account pluralistic interests and values, the nature of contemporary Indian party politics is far off the mark. It is also possible to point to deterioration in quality in this area. We may also pose the following question. Has Indian politics become more representative of the voice of the people through the electoral participation of the people and the increase in the number of political parties? Unfortunately, the answer to that question is unavoidably ambivalent. It is hard to say that the voices of the hitherto marginalized people, who have achieved political participation with so much hope, are being fully harnessed in the actual political decision-making

18  Akio Tanabe process. If we were to evaluate Indian democracy in terms of the reflection of the will of the people in politics, we would find that it still leaves much to be desired. In the first place, even if one has the ability to choose a party or a government, the mechanism of electoral democracy is such that it does not allow people to politicize the important issues that they really care about. From 1989 and throughout the 1990s, as a variety of parties gained the direct experience of holding the reins of government, the overall policies of the different parties became closer to one another. In that sense, it has become impossible to select the content of substantial policies through elections. Moreover, for people voting in an election, the aspect of anticipating resource distribution and protection from the government for their own group is stronger than that of overall policy choice. The feature of elections as a patronage mechanism for national resource distribution has a strong bearing on India’s condition as a dysfunctional state (Chandra 2004). Since bribery and corruption are rife, the state organization is exceedingly inefficient as an organ of policy implementation, and it can be said that it only functions as a mere agency for the distribution of national resources. Elections have thus become a mechanism for providing opportunities for the people to access this resource distribution. At present, however, the people are not satisfied simply by receiving distributed resources from the government but have come to desire the improvement of their livelihood basis for survival and life chances. This is related to the broadening of social, economic and political opportunities for the non-elite people (and the possibility of being excluded from these) as the market economy and state governance reaches down to the grass roots. Within this, in order to grasp the new opportunities arising in the globalizing In this situation, the people are beginning to voice political demands for the securing of education, employment and health. Thus they are not only expressing their will concerning the choice of their representatives by electoral politics, but have also begun to express their demand and desire over governance and policy through other channels, such as people’s movements, public litigation, and mass and social media. In twenty-first-century India, new political issues and new political arenas as well as new political agencies are beginning to expand.

1.4 The spread of a pluralistic and multi-layered public sphere In India of the 1990s and onward, in step with the advance of globalization, a multi-layered political decentralization has also progressed, and the methods of state-led planned economy and issues of state integration through nationalism have diminished. This, however, does not mean that laissez-faire, market-based principles have come to dominate. In India, where democracy is firmly maintained and political participation by the people is advancing, the people are continually demanding as the important duty of the state that the livelihood basis for survival and life chances of all people are guaranteed. From that point of view, rather than

Conditions of ‘developmental democracy’ 19 claim that the state has retreated (pace Strange 1996), we should probably say that the state’s role has changed from the planning of the national economy to securing and improving life chances. In this context, diverse social groups have come to raise their voices through various forms of social movements (or people’s movements) not limited only to the channel of representative democracy involving political parties and elections. Social movements in Indian politics have a tradition that has been handed down since the independence movement led by M. K. Gandhi. These movements are attempting to realize political and social reform through associational channels that differ from the institutionalized national politics. The people of India have always attempted through this kind of political and social movement to politicize issues that are important to their own daily lives rather than simply select a government through elections. Movements such as the JP Movement that criticized authoritarian politics in the 1970s, the ‘Save Narmada Movement’ to oppose construction of dams across the Narmada River, the Chipko Movement to protect the forests, the movement opposing Coca Cola factories and, in 2011, the widespread Anna Hazare Movement criticizing corruption are examples of this. Moreover, although they cannot be called social movements, rallies and demonstrations were organized especially in the 1990s by proponents and opponents of the caste-quota system or the establishment of a temple at the birthplace of Lord Rama. In contemporary India, these public political activities and expressions of will are spread through NGOs/NPOs (Non-Profit Organizations), citizens’ organizations, various intermediate organizations and the mass and social media, and are not limited to party politics and social movements. The number of NGOs/ NPOs reached 3.3 million in 2009. The number of citizens’ organizations has also increased greatly. This is because diverse organizations representing pluralistic positions have increased. The development of the mass media has also been remarkable. Newspaper circulations have increased greatly since the 1980s, and television spread around the country from the 1990s. Entering the twenty-first century, the Internet and social media are permeating society, particularly among the middle class. According to June 2012 statistics, the number of cell phones rose to 929 million. By simple arithmetic, that would be 77% of the population. The number of television channels has increased rapidly in recent years, with various kinds of exclusive channels appearing for politics, economy, entertainment, music, religion and so on in the different languages of India. Looking at the circulations of daily newspapers, what was 5.25 million in 1961 ballooned to 98.84 million in 2006. Of these, 24% (1.26 million) of the total circulation was in English in 1961, and this proportion declined to 13.4% (13.26 million) in 2006. Newspapers published in the various Indian languages have contrastingly increased their share of the total circulation. The most notable of these are the Hindi language newspapers, which, in 1961, accounted for no more than 11.8% (620, 000) of circulation, surged to 43.6% (43.08 million) in 2006 (Neyazi 2010, 2011).

20  Akio Tanabe Thus in contemporary India, a pluralistic and multi-layered public sphere, in which diverse social groups participate, is being constructed and in which people of various social positions, such as class, caste, religion, gender and region, are raising their voices.

1.5 Economic development led by the service sector Looking at the development pattern of the contemporary Indian economy, it is noticeable that the manufacturing and service sectors expanded after deregulation, institutional improvements and investments and lending by the government in the 1980s. Since the late 1990s, however, the service sector has made great progress while the growth rate of the manufacturing sector has remained unchanged. The share of the service sector in gross national product (GNP) reached 63.3% in 2010–11. South-East Asian countries, followed by China, have achieved economic growth based on manufacturing by relying heavily on foreign investment and exports. Since the 1990s, in contrast, while becoming more closely linked to the global economy, India has seen striking growth in the service sector by taking advantage of both foreign and domestic capital and demand. Moreover, while in the West and in East Asia, transformations in the industrial structure with technological development have occurred first from the agriculture, forestry and fisheries sector, to the manufacturing sector and then to the services sector (as per the Petty-Clark’s law). We can see that India, where the service sector has been the driving force of economic development, has a different development path. The IT service industry has exhibited a phenomenal growth rate of 30% per year since 1991 and with software accounting for more than 26% (2010–11) of total export values, it has been the star performer in the Indian economy. While accounting for only 1.2% of GNP in 1997–8, this industry’s share in GNP rose to 7.5% in 2011–12. We should note, however, that unlike the manufacturing sector, the IT service industry does not have a broad base and being an export-led industry (78.4% in 2010–11), it is dominated by one section of the elite. A breakdown of the service industry as a whole (2010–11) is as follows: trade, hotels and restaurants (16.3% of GNP) ; transport, storage and communication (7.8%) ; financing, insurance, real estate and business services (16.7%) ; community, social and personal services (14.4%) ; and construction (8.2%). Contrary to the image of the IT industry as the leading sector, the business categories that are growing in step with the expansion of domestic demand are those providing the trade, retailing and various kinds of services rather than the export-oriented sectors dominated by big capital and the elite. The importance of the construction industry should not be overlooked either. At the same time, it is also true to say that the manufacturing industry is largely supported by high growth in domestic consumer products. In the background to the expansion of domestic demand is that not just in the cities but also residents in the towns and villages have come to participate in the market economy as agents of production and consumption. As the physical

Conditions of ‘developmental democracy’ 21 and social space that links the cities and the villages has been activated, the new middle class and those aspiring to become middle class have relocated from the villages to the city suburbs, where their consumption activities multiply as their lifestyles become more urbanized. These people take out loans to build houses, send their children to school and private tutoring schools, commute to their workplaces, shop in markets, keep in touch with relatives and friends using mobile phones, take medical care at hospitals, sometimes eat out and make holiday trips and so on. In this way, industrial promotion centring on the service sector is seen to arise in step with this expansion in livelihood-related demand. This, however, does not mean that large numbers of people have been able to gain a higher education or regular employment. While the literacy rate in India has risen steadily from 18.3% in 1951 to 74.4% in 2011, more than a quarter of the population are still illiterate. The desire for education has been rising recently, but the reality remains one of great disparities in educational levels. The five-year primary education completion rate is just over 70%, and the eight-year secondary education completion rate is just over 50% in 2005–6, while the university enrolment ratio is low at just under 18% in 2011 (Economic Survey 2011–12). Educational and income levels are closely related. This is because the labour market has formed a hierarchy based on levels of education, resulting in large disparities in income.

1.6 Importance of the informal sector The total number of employed persons in India is 457.5 million people (2004–5), but of these, the ‘organized’ sector (government, public corporations and registered private enterprises) employs a mere 7.6%. The vast majority, the remaining 92.4%, find employment in the so-called informal sector, or ‘unorganized’ sector. Interestingly, if households are classified into three levels by per capita monthly expenditure, the proportion of unorganized employment (2004–5) in each level is 98.3% for ‘extremely poor and poor’ households (below the poverty line, population 236.9 million, employed persons 89.3 million) and 95.7% for ‘marginal and vulnerable’ households (up to twice the level above the poverty line, population 599.1 million, employed persons 255.8 million), but it is also as high as 80.1% for ‘middle- and high-income’ households (more than twice the level of the poverty line, population 253.7 million, employed persons 112.4 million). The combined poor and vulnerable groups amount to more than three-quarters of the total population, but not only the vast majority of these people but also more than 80% of the middle class and above, who are those most eagerly participating in consumption activities, are employed in the unorganized sector (Sengupta, Kannan, & Raveendran 2008: Table 6). Along with India’s economic growth of the 1990s onward, regional and class disparities are widening amid strong condemnation. The issue of stark disparities certainly does exist. The poverty rate is said to have diminished by between a minimum of 8% and a maximum of 15% in the 1990s, but was still at a high level of 21.74% in 2004–5.

22  Akio Tanabe

80 60 40 20 0

India China Brazil 1981



Figure 1.5 Gini index (%) in Brazil, China and India Source: Ravallion (2011)

Nevertheless, compared with other countries, the level of disparity is not so great, and the pace of the expansion of disparities is also slow. Looking at the Gini coefficient that expresses levels of inequality, the value was 35.1 in 1981, fell to 30.8 in 1993 and then rose again to 33.4 in 2005. For the same period in China, the respective values were 29.1, 35.5 and 41.5, indicating a rapid expansion in disparity, and they were 57.5, 59.5 and 57.6 in Brazil, where a high level of disparity is continuing (Figure 1.5).2 While the issue of class disparities failing to be resolved in step with economic growth certainly exists, looking overall, each class is achieving an economic rise to a certain extent, and the poverty rate is in decline. A sharp expansion in class disparities in the early stages of economic development is a pattern which has been seen in the Western and East Asian countries. If this is so, then rather than ask why India has not been able to resolve disparities, the question we really need to ask is how the different social groups and classes have been able to develop economically without a more rapid expansion of disparities. It would seem that the key to understanding this is the role of the non-corporate capital in the unorganized sector. If it were only big capital that was driving economic development, the beneficiaries would be a mere handful of people, and disparities would expand rapidly. The reason why regional disparities are widening even in India is that large companies are regionally concentrated. However, one more force that is driving the Indian economy forward is the non-corporate capital in the unorganized sector. It is here that the various classes, including the lower income bracket and the middle class, are engaged in economic activities. It is possible that one important aspect of India’s economic development is that it is characterized by a ‘diversity-driven path of development’ in which diverse materials, technologies and knowledges are combined to produce a large variety of goods and services on a small scale according to the wide range of different needs arising from diverse social groups.3 The competitiveness of the small-scale

Conditions of ‘developmental democracy’ 23 unorganized sector is due to its ability to respond to diverse needs that large-scale production finds difficult to fulfil (Krishna 2011; Datt & Ravallion 2011). Within this vigorous informal economy, even though regular employment is scarce, non-regular work for the employment of unskilled workers, such as trade, construction and manufacturing, is currently showing a large increase, and this is contributing to poverty reduction. This diverse employment situation indicates that there is a broadening in the various kinds of opportunities for earning incomes. However, the fact that it is not regular employment that is increasing but self-employment and temporary employment, signifies that even if total income is growing, it is temporary and unstable and not permanent employment or income (Nayak et al.2010). Seen in this light, many people are gaining some kind of income from the unorganized sector, unstable though it may be, and through that income, they are engaging in consumption activities from which a further expansion of demand is occurring. In other words, production, employment in the informal sector and the ensuing demand arising from livelihood activities constitute one of important bases that is supporting the Indian economy.

1.7 Seeking life chance improvements – public participation of the people The background of the people becoming economic agents is not only due to the factors of economic growth and trickle down but also strongly tied to the improvement of social infrastructure and institutions by the state. The move towards democratization through participation of the people was also a significant factor in accelerating this institutional upgrading. Thus it is possible to assume that in India from the 1990s onward, the gaining of both political and economic agency by the people has acted in a mutually complementary and reinforcing manner. The social infrastructure and institutions supporting the participation of the people in the political and economic arenas include, in addition to the reservation system and the panchayat (local self-government) reforms (1992), the Right to Information Act (2005), the Forest Right Act (2005), the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (2006), the Rights to Education Act (2009) and the National Food Security Act (2013), which have had a decisively important influence on Indian society. The social infrastructure and institutions in question were not simply for the purpose of the redistribution of wealth, but were rather for securing the people’s livelihood basis for survival and the advancement of their life chances. Put another way, these were not institutions for the equality of results but for securing the equality of opportunities and equality of minimal care among the diverse population. In present-day India, where marketization and democratization are advancing, the people are actively engaged in education, employment-seeking, business, political activities and so on in efforts to broaden their own life chances. Within this activity, many people are demanding that the government improve daily life infrastructure, education, employment and health care, and improve institutions

24  Akio Tanabe that guarantee the public participation of diverse social actors. At the same time, people are seeking income generation in the informal economy, where diverse yet unstable employment opportunities are expanding, and they are voicing increasingly strong demands for the enhancement of education and health care as the prerequisites for making this possible. Thus, with human development and social development at the core, more and more people are gaining political and economic agency. Nevertheless, the hierarchical nature of society that has characterized Indian history is still being persistently reproduced today. As the workings of capital and governance permeate down to the grass roots, the crisis of the marginalized is not that they will be left behind by development but rather that they will be deprived of their very livelihood basis for survival, because they are considered to be a hindrance to development. The workings of the governance and capital have well reached almost all corners of India. The real problem is not that they are not encompassed within the national space defined by the state and the capital – their presence is well recognized by both - but that the marginalized are seen as impediments to the proper functioning of governance and economy. They are seen as threats to security and development. Corbridge argues, It is perhaps also the case . . . . that ‘the only thing worse than being exploited by capital is not being exploited at all’. . . . The tragedy of large parts of eastern India, to repeat, is that capital is too often absent. (Corbridge 2011: 77) However, at least in the case of the Maoist-affected areas of Eastern India, the tragedy is that the global capital has come down like a parachute in order to use forest and mineral resources without connecting with the local capital and labour but rather displacing the local capital and human beings as a hindrance to development. There is no denying that existence of capital – be it corporate or non-corporate – is indeed important for economic development, but what is necessary is to combine global capital and domestic capital at various levels and also to utilize human and natural resources so that the local people living in the area and belonging to diverse social groups can benefit from the process of economic development. Although Corbridge’s view is that the problem of Eastern India is that the government has not been able to invite enough foreign direct investment (FDI), the real problem is not lack of Foreign Direct Investment but that there has not been enough coordination between the market, government and society, resulting in the displacement and marginalization of the local people in the functioning of the global capital. If the people affected by the penetration of the global capital have no hope that their dissatisfaction stemming from exclusion and marginalization will be resolved through normal democratic channels, they will have no option but to seek a resolution through violent resistance. That, for example, can be seen in the

Conditions of ‘developmental democracy’  25 Maoist movements of the Eastern Indian hill forest areas, where mining and forest resources have become the targets of development by global capital.

1.8 India in the global age – the potential of developmental democracy in a diverse society In present-day India, in combination with the advance of democratization and marketization, many people who were formerly marginalized have gained political and economic agency, and diverse social groups are participating in public dialogue and the process of exchange in the marketplace. In the conventional model of nation and economic development, there is a tendency to see the existence of diversity as a negative factor for the formation of a national people and economic development. This is because a homogenous, high quality of cultural literacy and technology was sought. Contrastingly, what is supporting the simultaneous advance of democratization and economic development in India is the rise of politico-economic agency of diverse populations. With diverse social groups seeking improvements in daily life in a society that is becoming marketized, a variety of new needs related to expanding livelihood opportunities arise, and there is a surging of informal economic opportunities to provide products and services that respond to these diverse and increasing demands. In the new potential-filled political economy, people are raising stronger political demands in order to advance their personal life chances. As democratization moves forward, the people have come to indicate their will through elections and social movements, and through violent resistance. India is achieving a new development towards more democratic politics and society as diverse voices are stimulating the political process in the public sphere that is broadening globally. This yet incomplete process is replete with transforming potential that necessarily accompanies frictions and frustrations. This pluralistic and multi-layered dynamism may appear to be exceedingly chaotic from the viewpoint of rule of law of civil society. However, as the people of India attempt to have their voices reflected in politics, this might be an indication of a dynamic towards the creation of a new form of democracy that allows more consideration for diversity. Yet, as seen with Hindu fundamentalism, we should not overlook majoritarian movements which attempt to impose a tyranny of numbers in the name of the people. In present-day India, there is on one side a trend linking majoritarian politics and efficiency-oriented governance with industrial capital-centred economy. However, we should also maintain our attention on the separate trend of the people in which pluralistic participatory democratic politics are linked to an informalsector-led economy supported by diverse livelihood demands. The new logic of inclusion and exclusion in India works at the crossroads of these two dynamics. The intermediation and sublation of these two may be contemporary India’s major agenda, for which the increasing advance of further democratization in the process of collective decision making is indispensable.

26  Akio Tanabe As Indian democracy approaches what may be termed the saturation of the attempt at pluralization of the system of parliamentary representation, it appears that there are efforts to combine this with a more direct form of participatory politics in the expanding public sphere. In the resulting democracy, how to combine the deliberation in representative politics and public dialogue among diverse voices in participatory politics will be a crucial question not only in India but also in Japan and the countries of the world. It would appear that India has already begun this colossal experiment to expand the democratic arena. In developmental democracy in the global age, it should indeed be the people who become the protagonists promoting their own development, and the state and the market should play supporting roles. This will be a process of dialogue and negotiation in which diverse people participating in the global public sphere attempt to improve their life chances. The people of contemporary India now seek the development of their agency and capability, and demand the institutional reforms that will provide its basis. To sum up, we would like to reiterate the conditions of ‘developmental democracy’ if it is to be developed in India. Let us first see what it is not about. In the case of ‘developmental authoritarianism’ (institutions that serve development) in East Asia, notably China, the government plays the role of ‘market enhancing’ (promoting and complementing coordination by the private sector) under an authoritarian regime (Aoki, Kim, & Okuno-Fujiwara 1997; Aoki 2010). This means that the state arranges and provides material and institutional infrastructure (roads, ports, airports, industrial energy, communication, higher education, environment for investment) on the basis of strong (and coercive) national consensus over economic development. Second, in contrast to this kind of development, what we propose here as ‘developmental democracy’ is ‘human agency enhancing’; it plays the role of ‘enhancing the basis of livelihoods’ as opposed to just ‘market enhancing’. The role of enhancing the basis of livelihoods is preparing access to education, medical care, water and energy of everyday needs. The process of enhancing the basis of livelihoods gives rise to economic demands and stimulates economic growth. Moreover, the human capital created in this process plays an important role in economic development. Third, ‘developmental democracy’ aims to promote inclusive development as the government balances its market enhancing role and human agency enhancing role in accordance with the rise of democratic demands by people of different social classes and diverse social groups. Defining ‘developmental democracy’ in this way leads to the possibility of overcoming the hitherto common notion of opposition between ‘politics of growth’ (i. e. market oriented development) and ‘politics of redistribution’ (i. e. social democratic development). Fourth, if we divide India’s industries into formal and informal sectors (or formal economy and informal economy), the market enhancing role of the state will play an important role in the former, while the state’s role in enhancing the basis of livelihoods will play an important role in the latter. Balancing between these

Conditions of ‘developmental democracy’ 27 two will be very important for mediating the formal and informal sectors, and constructing regional and class linkages that will connect diversities in India.

Postscript This chapter was written in late 2013 and reflects the data available to the author at that time. After the 2014 parliamentary election and the change of government, important transformations have occurred in the political situation that needs to be discussed in a separate paper. However, I believe that the perspective of developmental democracy, including its inner contradictions, continues to be relevant for understanding contemporary India. India still is at the crossroads.

Notes 1 Although there is certainly the continuing economic divide and political hierarchy within Indian society, what Chatterjee’s framework does not capture is the extent to which diverse groups – formed along various axes of class, caste, gender, language, ethnicity, ideology and other demographic variables – are raising their voices in different and changing patterns of alliances and confrontations, thus complicating and perhaps enriching the political sceneries. In other words, there is the emergence of the third arena of democratic politics beyond the dichotomous framework of civil society and political society. Here the challenge is how to mediate vernacular needs, discourses and practices of diverse populations with the public, democratic institutions and values, thus endangering ‘vernacular democracy’ and ‘vernacular public arena’ [Tanabe 2002, 2007, Neyazi & Tanabe 2014]. 2 It should be noted, however, according to Swaminathan and Rawal [2011], it is a misconception that distribution in India is less unequal than, for instance, in China or the countries of Latin America. This is because while studies of economic inequality for most countries are based on household income data, corresponding studies for India are based on household consumption expenditure data. It still holds that the level of increase of inequality in India between 1980 to 2005 was less than that of China during the same period. 3 The idea of a South-Asian ‘diversity-driven path of development’ is born from our continuing discussion among Professors Kaoru Sugihara, Kohei Wakimura, Takashi Oishi, Sayako Kanda, myself and others in the Contemporary India Area Studies (INDAS) Project.

Bibliography Aoki, Masahiko.2010. Corporations in Evolving Diversity: Cognition, Governance, and Institutions. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Aoki, Masahiko, Hyung-Ki Kim, and Masahiro Okuno-Fujiwara.1997. The Role of Government in East Asian Economic Development: Comparative Institutional Analysis. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Bardhan, Pranab.1984. The Political Economy of Development in India. Oxford & New York: Blackwell. Chandra, Kanchan.2004. Why Ethnic Parties Succeed: Patronage and Ethnic Head Counts in India. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

28  Akio Tanabe Chatterjee, Partha.2004. The Politics of the Governed: Reflections on Popular Politics in Most of the World. New York: Columbia University Press. Chatterjee, Partha.2008. ‘Democracy and Economic Transformation in India’, Economic and Political Weekly, 43 (16): 53–62. Chatterjee, Partha.2011. Lineages of Political Society: Studies in Postcolonial Democracy. New York: Columbia University Press. Corbridge, Stuart.2011. ‘The Contested Geographies of Federalism in Post-reform India’, in S. Ruparelia, S. Reddy, J. Harris and S. Corbridge (eds.), Understanding India’s New Political Economy: A Great Transformation? pp. 66–80. London: Routledge. Datt, Gaurav and Martin Ravallion.2011. ‘Has India’s Economic Growth Become More ProPoor in the Wake of Economic Reforms?’, The World Bank Economic Review, 25 (2): 157. Economic Survey 2011–12., accessed on 14th October 2013. Giddens, Anthony.1994. ‘Living in a Post-traditional Society’, in U. Beck, A. Giddens and S. Lash (eds.), Reflexive Modernization: Politics, Tradition and Aesthetics in the Modern Social Order. pp. 56–109. London: Polity Press. Guha, Ranajit.1982. ‘On Some Aspects of the Historiography of Colonial India’, in R. Guha (ed.), Subaltern Studies I: Writings on South Asian History and Society. pp. 1–8. New Delhi: Oxford University Press. Gupta, Akhil.2012. Red Tape: Bureaucracy, Structural Violence, and Poverty in India. Durham: Duke University Press. Kohli, Atul.2006. ‘Politics of Economic Growth in India, 1980–2005: Part II: The 1990s and Beyond’, Economic and Political Weekly, XLI (14): 1361–70. Kohli, Atul.2012. Poverty Amid Plenty in the New India. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Kothari, Rajini.2005. Rethinking Democracy. New Delhi: Orient Longman. Krishna, Anirdh.2011. ‘Poverty Knowledge and Poverty Action in India’, in A. Gupta and K. Sivaramakrishnan (eds.), The State in India After Liberalization: Interdisciplinary Perspectives. pp. 111–132. London: Routedge. Kumar, Sanjay.2010. ‘Regional Parties, Coalition Government and Funcitoning of Indian Parliament: The Changing Patterns’, Journal of Parliamentary Studies, 1: 75–91. Mehta, Pratap Bhanu.2003. The Burden of Democracy. New Delhi: Penguin Books. Nayak, P. K., Sadhan Kumar Chattopadhyay, Arun Vishunu Kumar, and V. Dhanya.2010. ‘Inclusive Growth and Its Regional Dimension’, Reserve Bank of India Occasional Papers, 31 (3): 91–156. Neyazi, Tabrez Ahmed.2010. ‘Cultural Imperialism or Vernacular Modernity? Hindi Newspapers in a Globalizing India’, Media, Culture and Society, 26 (6): 907–24. Neyazi, Tabrez Ahmed.2011. ‘Politics After Vernacularisation: Hindi Media and Indian Democracy’, Economic & Political Weekly, 46 (10): 75–82. Neyazi, Tabrez Ahmed and Akio Tanabe.2014. ‘Introduction’, in Tabrez Ahmed Neyazi, Akio Tanabe, and Shinya Ishizaka (eds.), Democratic Transformation and the Vernacular Public Arena in India. pp. 1–24. London: Routledge. Ravallion, Martin.2011. ‘A Comparative Perspective on Poverty Reduction in Brazil, China, and India’, The World Bank Research Observer, 26 (1): 71–104. Roy, Tirthankar.2002. ‘Economic History and Modern India: Redefining the Link’, The Journal of Economic Perspectives, 16 (3): 109–130. Sato, Hiroshi.2009. ‘Indo no Minshushugi to Renpokaingikai (Democracy and the Parliamentary Lower House in India) ’ in N. Kondo (ed.), Indo Minshushugi Taisei no Yukue: Chosen

Conditions of ‘developmental democracy’ 29 to Henyo (The Prospect of Indian Democratic System: Challenge and Transformation), pp. 33–79. Tokyo: Institute of Developing Economies, Japan External Trade Organization. Sengupta, Arjun, K. P. Kannan, and G. Raveendran.2008. ‘India’s Common People: Who Are They, How Many Are They and How Do They Live?’, Economic and Political Weekly, 43 (11): 49–63. Strange, Susan.1996. The Retreat of the State: The Diffusion of Power in the World Economy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Sugihara, Kaoru.2003. ‘The East Asian Path of Economic Development’, in G. Arrighi, T. Hamashita and M. Selden (eds.), The Resurgence of East Asia: 500, 150 and 50 Year Perspectives, pp. 78–123. London: Routledge. Sugihara, Kaoru.2004. ‘East Asian Path’, Economic and Political Weekly, 39 (34): 3855–3858 Swaminathan, Madhura and Vikas Rawal.2011. ‘Is India Really a Country of Low IncomeInequality? Observations from Eight Villages’, Review of Agrarian Studies, 1 (1): 1–22. Tanabe, Akio.2002 ‘Moral Society, Political Society and Civil Society in Post-colonial India: A View from Orissan Locality’, Journal of the Japanese Association for South Asian Studies, 14: 40–67. Tanabe, Akio.2007. ‘Toward Vernacular Democracy: Moral Society and Post-postcolonial Transformation in Rural Orissa, India’, American Ethnologist, 34 (3): 558–74. Varshney, Ashtosh.1995. Democracy, Development, and the Countryside. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

2 Streets as spaces of social inclusion and exclusion The case of street vendors in Ahmedabad Ayako Iwatani 2.1 Inclusion and exclusion in the age of globalization As Indian economy and polities are becoming global, a new type of social exclusion is emerging in the society. The causes of previous social exclusion were rather obvious – for instance, those based on castes, religion or occupation – and such exclusion brought about conflicts between the people and the state. However, globalization makes various sectors able to interact with each other, and it is becoming difficult to draw a clear line between the included and the excluded. While the growth of the Indian economy brings about the newly emerging middle class, the economic gap between the rich and the poor is on the rise. Now the government is in need of answering the demands of those two strata: higher and middle classes on one hand, who demand their fair share for contribution to the country’s economic growth, and the lower class on the other, who suffer from high inflation and change in social and industrial structure. The Foreign Direct Investment cap was removed from various sectors in 2012. Who is going to lose or gain by now is a matter of discussion; it can change the old distribution system based on communities in India. This chapter focuses on streets as contested spaces where different classes meet and clash, and social inclusion and exclusion take place. Especially in many developing countries, including India, as a result of industrial restructuring beginning from the 1980s and economic liberalization in the 1990s, many people moved to cities and work in informal sectors such as street vending businesses (Jhabvala2000; Brown2006).1 Street vending offers unskilled labourers immediate means of making money and consumers daily commodities for inexpensive prices. Yet streets are now becoming ‘public space’ in urban planning from which street vendors tend to be excluded. This chapter sheds light on the present circumstance of street vendors in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, and shows how two major actors, the Ahmedabad Municipality Corporation (AMC) /the state and the NGO such as the SEWA try to include street vendors in contested space called streets. This chapter will seek the possibility of streets becoming spaces for inclusion of people from different social strata.

Streets as spaces of social inclusion 31

2.2 Streets as contested space in India (1)  Streets in India The word ‘street’ denotes a delimited surface, characterized by an extended area lined with buildings on either side (Rykwert 1991). Streets in India are multifunctional spaces where the public and the private, the sacred and the profane, work and leisure all mix. Edensor (1998) calls Indian streets a ‘spatial complex’. They are not simply the routes from one place to another. They themselves have been the hub of different people and goods circulating beyond territories. However, streets are also spaces where various interests clash, which have often caused tension. For instance, as is shown later, until the 1980s, municipalities and the police had full authority to clear away ‘hindrance’ of traffic from streets. If they considered street vendors or those who lived on streets as ‘hindrance’, they could chase them away anytime without legal consequences. In exchange for letting street vendors do their business on streets, the municipalities and the police received bribe from street vendors. In the 1980s and the 1990s, the claims over the right to do business on streets led to a court case. It was also the time when streets became the target of city planning and industrial restructuring. (2)  What is ‘public space’? ‘Public space’ is generally known as common space open to all members of a society, for instance, parks, squares and streets. Yet it is not a neutral term, as the one used in city planning. ‘Public space’ is a spatial expression of social institution.2 ‘Public space’ is a product of social relations and practices. Comparing cities in Africa and Nepal, Brown (2006) points out that the notion of public and private differs in different parts of the world.3 It is important to note that the borderline between the public and the private changes with time, as social interaction does, and accordingly, one’s experience of public space also differs. Today, as people pour into urban areas from rural areas more and more, and the traffic becomes heavier, urban space becomes a scarce resource. The space previously providing job opportunities and commodities to different strata of society becomes contested ‘public space’, where a new kind of inclusion and exclusion takes place. In the name of gentrification and ‘beautification’ of cities, the urban poor and street vendors are now excluded from where they used to make their daily living. By referring to the example of ‘beautification’ projects undertaken by the middle-class civic organizations and local state officials in Mumbai, Fernandes (2006: 146) points out, In these projects, the state and new middle class engage in a shared conception of the city as a central socio-spatial site that can manifest an idealized vision of an India that has been transformed by globalization; the global city in effect, represents the new city-nation.

32  Ayako Iwatani Here creating a public space leads to the formation of a new identity among the people concerned. Fernandes further stresses the importance of looking at restructuring of urban space, not only as a result of changing attitudes and preferences of the middle class but also as a broader process intensified by policies of economic liberalization (2006: 152). When we discuss public space in India, it is important to take the state intervention into account as a factor that affects the use of lands. In India, many NGOs and other organizations are also important in understanding the state policies regarding public space.

2.3 Overview of the research This chapter deals with street vendors and their business space in Ahmedabad in Gujarat. According to the 2011 census, Ahmedabad is the biggest city in Gujarat with a population of 7, 210, 000 in 2011. It is the seventh largest metropolitan area in India. Ahmedabad is famous for its textile industry and was once called ‘Indian Manchester’. However, as is explained later, due to the change in the state policy towards the textile industry in 1985, most textile mills were closed down, which gave rise to many unemployed workers. Other than textiles, the major industries in Ahmedabad are manufacturing of medicines and chemical products, and diamond refining. When it comes to the scale of the informal sector, it is said that there are approximately 80, 000 street vendors in Ahmedabad. This was revealed in the survey done by the AMC (NCEUS 2006: 2). I conducted field research in two places where the AMC is carrying out urban planning: the Bhadra Market near Teen Darwaja and the Gujari Bazar, which used to be located at the present location of the Bhadra Market. These two places are located in the old area of Ahmedabad. I collected data between April and May in 2011, and November to December in 2012.

2.4 Street vendors in Ahmedabad (1)  Definition of street vendors The National Policy on Street defines a street vendor as “a person who offers goods for sale to the public without having a permanent built up structure but with a temporary static structure or mobile stall (or headload)”.4 Stalls and street vendors5 have been in India for centuries. Bhattacharya (2003) points out that international modern trade coexisted and supplemented each other with ‘traditional’ exchange systems such as stalls and markets in North-West India in the nineteenth century. Yet until the 1970s when studies on the informal sector started, the street vending business had been peripheral to academic concern. Their social status is low, and their business was considered to be transient in modern urban planning and economic growth.

Streets as spaces of social inclusion 33 (2)  Increase of street vendors However, it is pointed out that the service sector in the informal sector significantly increased in the 1980s and the 1990s in India.6 According to Rani and Unni (2000: 42), among those who engaged in trade, hotels and restaurants in Ahmedabad between1997–98, more than 90% (258, 573 out of 285, 566) belonged to informal sectors. Jhabvala (2000) estimated that street vendors occupy 15% of the urban informal sector. The National Policy on Street Vendors estimates the number of street vendors in India as more than 10, 000, 000. The reasons for the increase in the number of street vendors are many. Two major causes can be considered. The one is the shift in the state policy on the textile industry. In order to suit changing tastes of consumers and lower the price of textile, the state government took off the barriers between various sections in textile industries and enforced the increase of the power loom. Together with little innovation on the part of mill owners, most of the textile mills were closed down, and those who lost their jobs poured into the informal sector such as street vendors.7 For those who have little skills or education, street vending became one of the few possible options. The second cause is economic liberalization after the 1990s. The rise of the price of land, hyper-inflation and decrease of lifetime employment in the formal sector caused population flow from rural areas to cities. In fact, as is shown later, many street vendors claim that they earn more than what they used to earn. Even though it is shaky and risky as a business, many of them find advantages in street vending. Streets offer not only job opportunities to those who have little skill or education but also a variety of affordable goods to the middle and the low strata of the society. Because of the location of street vendors in major streets, people have easy access to them. Also, it is pointed out that their existence on streets ensure safety for women and protection to their belongings (Kumar & Bhowmik 2010: 74). (3)  Street vendors in the local policy While streets offer the people a means to earn their daily wages, they had been under arbitrary control of the municipality and the police until the 1980s. Two laws are relevant in the case of street vendors in Ahmedabad: one is the Bombay Provincial Municipal Corporation Act of 1949 and the other is the Bombay Police Act of 1951.8 These two laws reflected colonial policies targeted towards the poor and migrant labourers in cities in Britain. However, they have been effective even after India became independent and Gujarat became a state, after separation from the Bombay presidency in 1960. According to the Bombay Provincial Municipal Corporation Act (1949: Ch. XIV Streets, Section 231), “Commissioner may, without notice, remove anything erected, deposited or hawked or exposed for sale in contravention of Act”. Street vendors are required to have licenses to sale in public places (1949: Ch. VIII. Licenses for Hawking, etc., Section 384). The Bombay Police Act (1951: Chapter IV,

34  Ayako Iwatani Police Regulations, 34) authorizes police officers to remove obstacles on streets. It also notes, No person shall cause obstruction in any street or public place by allowing any animal or vehicle to load or unload, or to take up or bring passengers, to remain or stand therein longer than may be necessary for such purpose. (VII Offences and Punishments, 102) In 1980, the AMC gave hawking licenses to 500 vendors, but after that, they have not issued the license. According to the survey conducted in 2009 by the AMC, among 390 vendors, only 3% of the people had the license, and 89% didn’t know of its existence. Thus most of the vendors became virtually illegal. It is up to the municipal commissioner or the police to decide whether to demand fines for not following these acts or to receive bribes. Instead of resorting to legal means to regulate street vendors, many of the officers prefer receiving money as a bribe.9 In the 1980s, the conflicts between street vendors, the AMC and the police reached their peak. (4)  Inclusion of street vendors in the policy by the SEWA It was the SEWA which stood for the street vendors and referred their conflicts with the AMC and the police to the same authorities.10 The SEWA started as a labour union to secure the rights of female workers in informal sectors in 1972.11 The SEWA’s support of street vendors started in the central part of the old city of Ahmedabad called Manek Chowk near Teen Darwaja.12 The founder of the SEWA, Ila Bhatt, recalls the history of their protest against the municipality and the police in the 1980s by giving several examples of conflict (Bhatt 2006: 87). Lakshmiben had been selling vegetables in Manek Chowk for the past 40 years, sitting in the same place where her mother-in-law had sat before her (Bhat 2006: 87). Her income of 10 rupees per day supported her family because her husband had been sick and unemployed for 12 years. Each time she was fined – which was three or four times a week – she had to pay 12.5 rupees. She had receipts of the fines she had paid for the past six years. In 1982, the SEWA, Bhatt and street vendors including Lakshmiben filed a case in the Supreme Court of India against the municipal commissioner, the police commissioner and the state of Gujarat. The petition claimed that by denying licenses to the petitioners, the vendors’ fundamental constitutional right to trade was being violated by the municipality (Bhatt 2006: 88). The Court ordered the municipal commissioner to protect all SEWA members in Manek Chowk. In 1984, following the judgment of the Supreme Court, the AMC gave temporary permission for street vending to 327 persons. Since the time this order was passed, street vendors began gaining favourable decisions from the Court, not only in Gujarat but also all over India. In 1989, the Supreme Court acknowledged the right to do business on streets as is mentioned in Article 19 (1) g of the Constitution.13 In 2004, the Ministry of

Streets as spaces of social inclusion  35 Urban Development and Poverty Alleviation promulgated the National Policy on Street Vendors. The policy says, The right to carry on trade of business mentioned in Article 19 (1) g of the Constitution, on street pavements, if properly regulated cannot be denied on the ground that the streets are meant exclusively for passing or re-passing and no other use. It points out the contradiction in the Police Act and recommends that all states should amend the Police Act. Furthermore, the policy clearly notes, “City authorities should provide sufficient spaces, designated as ‘vendors markets’ in layout plans”. When designating vendors markets, vending zones “must be accomplished by a participatory process by the Town Vending Committee”, 40% of which should be the hawker’s representatives and one-third of the representatives should be women. This policy was epoch-making, but implementation of the policy was dependent on the municipalities. In 2006, since the AMC had not implemented the policy, the SEWA appealed to the Court. In 2009, the AMC did an extensive survey on street vendors in order to grasp their population or location of the stalls and to register them. Having the report, the central government issued the ameliorated Street Vendors Act in 2014. Yet there are still several problems in the policy. The first problem is that they try to register one person per stall. As is shown later, street vending is a family business; family members take turns selling at stalls during the course of a day. The second problem is regarding the location of setting up the vending zone. The survey shows that there is a concentration of stalls on major roads, which is between 30–60 metres wide. Then they suggest moving these stalls from major roads to small streets, which are 7–12 metres wide, in residential areas. However, if stalls are relocated in residential areas, it can cause trouble between residents and street vendors. In addition, on small streets or parks, vendors cannot attract customers as much as on big major roads, and it becomes inconvenient for customers to drop by. In order to reflect the voice of the people involved, it is important for street vendors to join the process of designating vending zones. Yet the committee member has not been fully decided since 2012. So far, only Shantabhen Parmar, the vice president of the SEWA, joins them as a committee member.14 The third is the possibility of legal exclusion of those who do business outside of the vending zone. The policy says that excess in the number of spaces available may be regulated by fees. It is another matter for discussion. (5)  Beyond national policy As a result of the problem of non-compliance, Manaliben of the SEWA says in the interview, “We don’t want a ‘policy’, if it is not compulsory. We want a ‘scheme’ ”.15 She also stresses the importance of approaching both the municipality

36  Ayako Iwatani and street vendors. The SEWA, by intervening in the issues of street vendors, tries to make the municipality committed and to share the concern with them. Also, the SEWA tries to empower street vendors so that they can make their voices heard and unite themselves. The SEWA has attempted to make Natural Market Committees in 37 natural markets. What the SEWA calls ‘natural market’ is a market created naturally by the people passing and gathering to buy and sell over the years. Eleven members of the committee are selected by the local street vendors in each natural market. Likewise, the SEWA gives street vendors advice and encourages them to manage and solve their problems. Furthermore, the SEWA is aware of the importance of the media. When they published an article about eviction of street vendors in Manek Chowk, many people called up the AMC and asked them for better treatment of street vendors.16

2.5 Case study 1: the Bhadra Market (1)  History of the Bhadra Market Now let us examine two cases of exclusion and inclusion of street vendors in Ahmedabad. The first is the case of the Bhadra Market. It is one of the oldest markets in Ahmedabad, located near the Bhadra Kali Temple and the Teen Darwaja (Three Gates, Photograph 2.1). Since Ahmad Shah I founded Ahmedabad in 1411,

Photograph 2.1  Three Gates

Streets as spaces of social inclusion 37 a market called the Khas Bazar was held there every Friday. It was a market for the lower class. When Mandelslo, the Duke of Holstein, visited the place in 1638, he mentioned that the Bhadra Market was next to “the Maidan Shah”, or the King’s Market which was at least 500 metres long and half as broad with various kinds of trees (Commissariat 1995: 22). When the Maratha occupied Ahmedabad, a part of the Bhadra Fort became the Bhadra Kali Temple in the eighteenth century. In 1954, the Khas Bazar was moved to the Sabarmathi riverbank and called the Gujari Bazar, which was held on Sunday instead of Friday under colonial influence. After its shift, there had not been as many street vendors as there are today due to frequent communal riots. The number of street vendors began increasing after the closedown of the textile mills in 1985. It is said that there had been flower wholesale shops or seasonal shops before the 1990s in the Bhadra Market.17 In the 1990s, stalls of street vendors increased as demand for wholesale and retail shops of ready-made clothes, Chinese imports, fruits and vegetables increased. In addition to nearby markets, such as Manek Chowk (vegetable) or Tilak Chowk (clothes and toys), the Bhadra Market became one of the liveliest shopping areas in Ahmedabad. (2)  Public space in the upcoming “World Heritage City” At present, the AMC attempts to modernize Ahmedabad as well as to preserve its old area so as to apply for the World Heritage City of the UNESCO (John & Vashi (eds.) 2010). It is an attempt to attract tourists to Ahmedabad, which celebrated its six hundredth anniversary in 2011. The area around the Bhadra Market is old and retains many buildings with elaborate carvings. It is a major target of the city renovation, which attempts to change the area only for pedestrians. In a blueprint picture of this redevelopment in the leaflet to promote Ahmedabad as a Heritage City (John & Vashi (eds.) 2010), there is no space or vending zone for street vendors but a pedestrian area and walkways in front of the Bhadra Fort. Under such a city planning, we can hardly see the busiest market with people but a quiet open public space without street vendors. On 24 January 2010, nearly 355 street vendors were evicted from the Bhadra Market without being given any reasons.18 It was a part of the urban development plan heading for the World Heritage City as mentioned earlier, and there were to be cafes, a museum, walkways, restaurants and parking places. The SEWA immediately responded to this eviction, stating, The development of Bhadra Fort Area was a welcome thing but it must not be done at the cost of the livelihood of these small vendors. . . . these people also were among the contributors to the development of the city, which would not be complete without acknowledging their share.19 Then the AMC allowed street vendors to sit and earn their livelihood again after 11 days. However, the development plan was proceeding, and most of the vendors were temporarily removed from the Bhadra Market in December 2012.

38  Ayako Iwatani (3)  Street vendors in the Bhadra Market Now let us see how streets provided the livelihood of various people. Table 2.1 shows the sales items and the total number of stalls on the Gandhi Road between the Bhadra Kali Temple and the Teen Darwaja (about 100 metres long), between 10: 00 and 16: 00 on 19 April 2011. There were as many as 552 stalls of 47 kinds; most of them sold clothes. According to All Gujarat General Labour Association, the total number of vendors is about 3, 000 to 4, 000 in the Bhadra Market. The SEWA estimates that nearly 31, 000 customers visit this market daily. Table 2.2 shows sale items of 21 street vendors on 19 April in 2011. Although it is not included in Table 2.2, it may be mentioned that 17 out of 21 stalls were owned by Muslims. Two were owned by those from the Hindu Devi Pūjak community. The average age of street vendors was 36 years old, and the average years of engagement in street vending was 18 years. Ten of them have more than two stalls. Ten vendors said that they ran the stall with their family members. About half of the vendors had done jobs other than street vending. One man aged 30 who had worked in a factory where he assembled mechanic parts for eight years said, “It was a hard job and I could earn only 80 rupees a day. The present job (street vending) is better in earning, and I feel relaxed because it is a self-employed job”. Other vendors have similar opinions as him. It is a good job for those who don’t have skills or education. There were also vendors from Bihar, Rajasthan and UP. Regarding vending space, the old comers to the market tend to have a better location than newcomers. The better places are nearer the shops or pedestrian pavement. Newcomers tend to set their stalls more central to the road. Near the Bhadra Kali Temple, there were as many as four lanes of street vendors. In Manek Chowk, too, street vendors occupy half the street (Photograph 2.2). This kind of condition gives the AMC and the police a good excuse for clearing street vendors off and fining them. In order to keep their vending space, they pay 50 to 100 rupees per day to the police and some amount of money to the local goons as well. Shops and stalls are in both competitive and collaborative relationship in the Bhadra Market and Manek Chowk. As the number of vendors increases, the streets get crowded with them. As a result, customers have difficulties seeing what they sell at the shops. Comparing the present with the time when there were much fewer vendors, one shop owner said that their sales went down half from before.20 However, other shop owners said that there is no competition because the sales items are different between shops and stalls. They may let the street vendors put their stuff in their shops when the police or the AMC come to chase them all of a sudden, or keep some of their stuff overnight. One shop owner said, “Because of street vendors, passengers stop by here. This is very important. They may pop into our shops too. When the AMC cleared them away, passengers did not stop on the road”.21 Here we can see that coexistence of shops and stalls results in inviting customers to both. Now shops are becoming like stalls (Photograph 2.3). Many shops on the Gandhi Road pay road tax in addition to service tax, income tax and municipality tax. It is a tax for the use of the front space of the shop to show their sales items more.

Table 2.1 Sales items of stalls at the Bhadra Market (10:00~16: 00, 19 April, 2011) GR: Gandhi Road Place items




Miscellaneous goods

Household goods

Offerings Others

Front of the North South Central of Total Bhadra Kali of the of the the GR number Temple GR GR of stalls snacks eggs garlic fruits biscuits spices herbs drinks clothes underwear socks handkerchiefs hats shoes bags wallets belts sunglasses accessories bungles pins barrettes bindis watches clocks cosmetics perfumes combs toys cricket boards CDs insecticides artificial flowers frames interior accessories key chains knives lighters plastic containers strings various commodities cups mats chunuri (offering cloth) flowers keys icons

Total number of stalls

9 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 5 0 0 0 0 4 3 0 0 0 5 8 1 1 3 1 1 5 0 0 0 4 0 0 0 5 0 1 0 0 0 0 0

6 1 0 7 0 1 4 9 0 1 2 0 0 5 0 1 16 5 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 13 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 2 0 0 3

1 0 1 1 0 0 1 3 179 0 3 0 0 55 28 0 0 0 12 10 0 7 0 10 0 3 0 1 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 1

3 0 0 2 1 0 0 8 12 0 2 2 2 3 4 0 1 1 2 2 0 0 0 4 0 0 0 0 6 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 1 1 5

19 1 1 10 1 1 5 20 196 1 7 2 2 67 35 1 17 6 19 20 1 8 3 16 1 8 1 1 23 4 1 1 1 5 1 1 1 2 3 1 9

4 0 3

1 1 0

0 0 0

3 1 0

8 2 3

9 0 1

0 4 0

0 2 0

0 0 0

9 6 1






Table 2.2 Street vendors and their sales items Sales item Age Gender Years of No. of Number of workers engagement shops 1 bungle 2 comb 3 sandals 4 juice 5 baby clothes 6 key 7 toy 8 plastic container 9 comb 10 clothes 11 clothes

Experience of other jobs

17 50 30


7 15 20

3 1 1

1 (7 employees) 1 2 (elder brother)

43 48


30 36

1 1

1 1

none book binding shopping mall none none

40 30 21


30 5 14

1 1 2

1 1 1 (employee)

none farming welding

28 62 50


12 30 15

1 1 1

1 2 (wife) 1

none cotton mill making of steel furniture none none

12 clothes 13 children sandals 14 clothes

20 53


4 33

2 2

2 (elder brother) 2 (son)





2 (son)

15 clothes 16 sandals

34 30


22 10

1 2

17 sandals





18 bungle 19 sandals

25 27


12 12

4 3

20 coconut& 25 flowers 21 insecticide 51







Photograph 2.2  Street vendors in Manek Chowk

clothes shop in Saudi Arabia 1 (3 employees) none 2 (5 family members) machine factory 1 elevator repairing 4 (3 family members) none 4 (brother, 2 clothes shop employees) 3 (mother, brother, 3 none employees) 3 (2 sons) factory

Streets as spaces of social inclusion 41

Photograph 2.3  A shop resembling a street stall

Shop owners are cautious not to leave the space in front of their shops (a part of the road) vacant, for street vendors may occupy it. (4)  Customers at the Bhadra Market How do customers feel about this market? Most of them do shopping in both shops and stalls for specific purpose. One woman, aged 24, whose father owns a book shop, comes to Manek Chowk twice a day to purchase vegetables.22 She says, “I  don’t bargain with street vendors, for they sell good stuffs for cheap prices. They sell reasonable stuffs. I wish they would sell brand items of good quality as well”. She also goes to shopping malls to buy clothes twice a month. Another woman who passed by said that she lived abroad and came to shop in Manek Chowk during her stay. The Bhadra Market attracts similar customers from the upper-middle class to the lower strata. Table 2.3 shows some information about other visitors at the Bhadra Market interviewed between 11.00 a. m. and 2.20 p. m. on 30 December 2012. Although the sample is small, we can notice that most of the customers had been to shopping malls as well as to the Bhadra Market. They said the reason of coming to the Bhadra Market were the cheaper prices and the satisfactory quality of the goods. Most of them were purchasing clothing items at the Bhadra Market and other quality goods at shopping malls. In other words, they use different










2 11:20 M

3 11:35 F

4 11:50 F

5 11:50 F

6 11:50 F

7 12:00 M

8 13:45 M

9 14:20 M

travel bag, bed sheets, shoes character watches, fashion watch, knives tongue cleaners, comb

5 sets of salwar kameez for kids salwar kameez salwar kameez (salwar kameez, bag, T-shirt) (make up item)

a pair of sandals

Gender Age Purchased item

1 11:00 F







2 friends, 2 〇 daughters

bus, brother, motorcycle sister-in-law

10(×4) 5

60(×9) 60 10(×2)


first time



first time Mumbai* car (now travelling) first time U.K.* air plane (Manchester)


wife, sister- 〇 in-law



25,000 pounds


diffence force

41,667 (5 lakh/ year)






5,790 (193/day)

Income (Rs) / month

post office

Student of the Gujarat University financial advisor

government office student in civil hospital nursing tutor

medicine company (package wrapper) medicine company (supervisor)

Means of Companion Use of Occupation transportation mall

not yet once in 2–3 Gandhinagar* bus purchased months

once a year

twice a year Sanand

twice a year Kadi*

Frequency to visit the Market

18 family 〇 members 250 l–2/year Visnagar* auto rickshaw 3 friends, 1 × teacher not yet once in 2–3 Gandhinagar* bus sister 〇 purchased months




Price (Rs)

Table 2.3 Customers at the Bhadra Market (30 December 2012)

Streets as spaces of social inclusion 43 types of markets depending on occasions and use. Eight out of nine came from outside Ahmedabad (locations marked by * in Table 2.3), even from the UK. The average monthly income of the five persons who answered, except the person from the UK, was 21, 791 rupees.

2.6 Case study 2: the Gujari Bazar (1)  Relocation of the Gujari Bazar As was mentioned earlier, the Gujari Bazar was moved from the Bhadra Market and came to be held every Sunday. In 2012, it is located near the Ellis Bridge, the Surendra Mangaldas Road (S. M. Road), which leads to the Bhadra Market. Every weekend, there are lots of people and hundreds of vendors on the Sabarmati riverbank (see Photograph 2.4). On 24 April 2011, the approximate number of stalls on only the riverbank was 558. If those on S. M. Road were included, the number would be 841. It is a market for all kinds of people, especially from the middle and the lower strata. However, this six-century-old market is planned to be relocated from its present place to further east of the riverbank. It is a part of the Sabarmati Riverfront project, which goes hand in hand with working towards becoming a World Heritage City.23 The first proposal for developing the riverfront was given in 1961 by

Photograph 2.4  Vendors on the Sabarmati riverbank

44  Ayako Iwatani citizens of Ahmedabad. The AMC is trying to turn the riverbank into promenades and commercial space. The project aims “to provide Ahmedabad with a meaningful waterfront environment along the banks of the Sabarmati River and to redefine an identity of Ahmedabad around the river”.24 A 10.4 kilometre stretch of walkway was completed in 2012. The people who lived on the riverbank and near the Gujari Bazar were to be evicted and relocated to different places by the AMC.25 Nafis Ahmed, the president of the Ahmedabad Gujari Association,26 was against this relocation, for it would cause an inconvenience to street vendors.27 He claimed that the AMC had no right to make them move, since it had lost legal ownership of the land of the Bazar since 2003. He said, “It is the Gujari Bazar (at present state) that is worth of UNESCO Heritage”. However, the AMC pointed out the traffic problem every Sunday, and finally, the association made an agreement with the AMC. In a new allocated place, there will be 200 stalls each of which will be 6 feet by 6 feet (about 1, 8m2) and 1, 000 stalls each of which will be 6 feet by 4 feet (about 1, 5m2). All the association members will get a place, but the total size of the market will decrease from 27, 000 square yards to 16, 000 square yards. The AMC will supply a sanitary environment, electricity and water.28 Because a place will not be given to nonmembers, 650 people were against the allocation and created a new association. (2)  Vendors at the Gujari Bazar Now, let us see an example of a street vendor and his business at the Gujari Bazar and beyond. Babubhai (pseudonym, who was born in 1967, studied up to the tenth grade, has two children and is from Devi Pūjak community) sells antiques occasionally at the Gujari Bazar. Other than Sunday, he collects scraps (bhangār) every day. Before starting this business 26 years ago, he had sold onions and garlic on the streets, and served in an office. The salary he received in the office was 500 rupees a month. He started collecting scrap when he met another scrap-collector. Now he earns approximately 1, 500 rupees a week only through scrap-collecting and receives a bonus of 5, 000 rupees from the scrap-collecting shop he works for. In the morning, he goes to a scrap-collecting shop.29 The shop owner is the person who invites him to collect scraps. In the shop, 12 people from the same Devi Pūjak community besides Babubhai who collect scraps. Babubhai first borrows money from a scrap-collecting shop; the amount is about 1, 000 to 2, 000 rupees. With a cart (lari), he goes from house to house asking for scrap. Each waste paper and scrap is priced according to its weight. He pays money and receives scraps. When sorting out the scrap, he puts aside the goods which can be sold as antiques at the Gujari Bazar. After collecting scrap, he goes back to the shop and gives the scrap and the money he borrowed. He receives the margin on the exchange prices of scrap as profit. The localities he covers are fixed. On Monday, Wednesday and Saturday, he goes to a gated Sindhi community (see Photograph 2.5). He goes to different places on other days. There were 141 houses in the gated community in 2012. Only he and another vegetable vendor were allowed to enter. He has been going there for the past 12 years. On 1 December 2012, after collecting scrap

Streets as spaces of social inclusion  45

Photograph 2.5  Collecting scraps from a gated community

between 10.00 a. m. and 12.30 p. m., he sold 593 rupees worth of scrap, collected from 27 customers, to the shop, and his profit was 220 rupees. Occasional sales of antiques at the Gujari Bazar allow him a little saving. Since he is not a member of the Gujari Association, he sees that the movement within the Gujari Bazar affects his life. As Babubhai’s case suggests, the Gujari Bazar isn’t complete in itself. Like blood circulating in a body, it is connected with different routes and goods. (3)  Customers at the Gujari Bazar Who are the customers at the Gujari Bazar? Table 2.4 is the result of an interview with 18 groups of visitors at the Gujari Bazar conducted on 2, 9 and 30 December 2012. The average monthly income of those who answered (14 out of 18 groups) was 8, 400 rupees, and 10 out of 18 answered that they don’t use shopping malls. Although the average expenditure at the Bazar was 1,006 rupees, there was a big difference in expenditure ranging from 10 rupees to 5,500 rupees, which was dependent on individuals. People from various places use different means of transportation to come to Gujari Bazar30 It is notable that many buy used items at the Gujari Bazar. One woman, aged 21 (4), bought used kameez for herself,31 and a man, aged 39 (6), bought 50 used

10:45 M

11:00 11:15 11:30 12:15

3  9

4 5 6 7

12:25 M

12:30 F

12:50 F

13:10 M

8  9

9  9

10  9

11  9


10:40 M

2  9

 9  9  9  9

13:40 M





21 20 39 30





25(×3) 25 30(×27) 700

50(×5) 20(×4) 15(×50) 350(×3) 500




Price (Rs)

mobile phone 70

books calendar used sarees used trouser, four shirts goat

used kameez used sarees used sarees a set of pots pressure cooker

used children’s clothes DVD


Gender Age Purchased item

1  2

Date Time

Arnej* Trikampura Viramgam Daman and Diu*








Ahmedabad (Spain) twice a month Himatnagar*

second time

almost every week 1 ~2/year 1 ~2/year first time once a month

every week

second time

Frequency to Address visit the Bazar

Table 2.4 Customers at the Gujari Bazar (December 2012)



3 cousins friend nephew husband, 2 sons






elder brother

shuttle rickshaw 2 neighbors

bus, auto rickshaw

auto rickshaw

train bus bus auto rickshaw




Means of transportation

sales of used clothes housework (husband: painter) carpenter

× × ×


× ×


guard of a post office agriculture factory labor agriculture street vendors (Chinese made watch daily7 commodities) student

sales of medicine no answer (N.A.)


Use of Occupation mall


1,800 4,500

5,000– 7,000


6,000 5,000 8,300 10,000– 12,000




Income (Rs) / month

13:30 M

15:20 M

15:20 F

16:00 M

16:10 M

16:15 M 17:15 M

12  9

13 30

14 30

15 30

16 30

17 30 18 30

17 63






almost every week 20–25/year



Ahmedabad Mumbai*



3 times a year Ahmedabad

20 25(×4) 40



every week




fountain pens 10(×3) every week books 500(×11) 3/year

repair tools for kitchen utensils


woods for cloth cradle torch iron material tin container

steel plates

walk friend’s car


auto rickshaw

auto rickshaw

auto rickshaw



none wife, daughter


daughter 〇 of elder sister-inlaw wife, × daughter, parents-inlaw, none 〇

wife, daughter 3 younger sisters-inlaw & her daughter none

15,000 (500/day) repair of kitchen 1,500– utensils 6,000 (50–200/ day) student none company N.A. manager

vegetable vendor



auto rickshaw driver business

12,000– 15,000

street vendor

48  Ayako Iwatani sarees to protect his farm from birds and animals. Some of the customers, such as a woman aged 45 (9) came from outside Ahmedabad, purchased used clothes at the Bazar and re-sold them in towns and villages. Like Babubhai, there are many vendors of used clothes and antiques at the Gujari Bazar. Babubhai mentioned that there are vendors who don’t go to collect scrap but only buy and sell scrap at Gujari Bazar. Thus the Bazar is a hub of various goods and services in circulation.

2.7 Conclusion In India, the change in economic structure has brought about a new flow of people and goods. Such a change results in introducing the concept of public space into urban planning. In India, it seems that such space reflects the interests of newly emerging classes of people. However, what this chapter delineated was not simply a fact that street vendors were cleared away from streets to create public space. There is also a complex inclusion and exclusion of people and goods on the streets in Ahmedabad. Both the Bhadra Market and the Gujari Bazar offer various strata of people goods and services. They attract people from different regions and classes. As is often presupposed in the discussion of public sphere, they are not confined to specific classes or limited space. As was shown in the dynamics of vendors and customers in the case of the Gujari Bazar, the Bazar is actually connected with different kinds of markets and functions as a hub of networks goods and people. Even though those who live in the gated community may not purchase goods from the Bazar, their consumption is closely linked with the lives of other people through scrap-collectors who are antique-sellers at the same time. In the case of the Bhadra Market, we can highlight the complex shop-stall relationship. Shops and stalls compete, and supplement each other in business. Customers also find it useful to visit both stalls and shopping malls. Here we cannot see an inclusive ‘public space’ if there is fragmentation at the micro-local network. Arising from streets, and by being mediated by street vendors, such spaces become a natural market where different kinds of people are connected with each other and included in the circulation of goods. Beyond the history of exclusion of street vendors since the colonial time, the state policy is beginning to reflect the public meaning of street vendors. However, it has remained as an ideal and is left up to the local municipalities to achieve. When it comes to urban planning geared to global capital, it can easily give way to clearing off the streets and breaking down locally nurtured networks of people and goods. To achieve inclusion in streets, SEWA is playing an important role in Gujarat. Although they approach mostly female members whose population is smaller in number,32 they have tried to gain trust from male vendors as well. In addition – although this chapter couldn’t cover all the areas – their network of street vendors in different states in India and internationally is working very efficiently to put pressure on the state government (Te Lintelo 2010). Yet there should be further research in terms of inclusion of and collaboration with other associations and street vendors.

Streets as spaces of social inclusion 49 Lastly, the increase in the number of street vendors will be the most difficult problem to tackle. Both the AMC and SEWA regard registration of street vendors as a key to protect their right to work. However, registration brings about non-registered ‘illegal’ others. It would be difficult to include all of them in the ‘space’ plotted in urban planning. Rather, we should pay more attention to their role in connecting streets through services. It doesn’t necessarily require a certain space all the time. Goods can also be circulated through movement. ‘Public space’ appears in such a movement. Such space naturally leads everywhere and to every person in the world.

Notes 1 According to the report by the National Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganized Sector (NCEUS), the total employment increased from 397 million to 457 million between 1999–2000 and 2004–05, although the number of employment in formal/organized sectors increased from 54.1 million to 62.6 million, meaning that the employment over this period was informal in nature [NCEUS 2006: 4]. 2 The concept called ‘public space’ can be compared with ‘public sphere’ [Habermas 1992]. Applicability of the concept of ‘public sphere’ has been discussed in Indian cases [Kaviraj 1997; Bhargava 2005; Brosius 2010]. When ‘public sphere’ is discussed in the case of non-Western societies, the meaning of ‘public’ has often been a matter of central concern [Law & Smith 2006]. Instead, this chapter sheds light on the importance of space as expression of social institution [Colquhoun 1989]. 3 Brown brings about a new term called ‘urban public space’ as ‘all the physical space and social relations that determine the use of that space within the non-private realm of cities’ [2006: 10]. It includes even privately owned lands as long as they are vacant and serve common interests. 4 According to the Ministry of Urban Development and Poverty Alleviation 2004. 5 There are other terms such as pheriwalla, footpath dukandars, peddlers and hawkers. This chapter uses the term street vendors, since it has been used in official documents. 6 Yanagisawa [2014: 251] compares the number of people in service sector in the informal sector in 1976–77 to the one in 1997–98 in Ahmedabad and points out that the service sector in the informal sector increased by 5.4 times between the 1980s and the 1990s. 7 In Ahmedabad, due to closing down of the textile mills, about 36, 000 persons lost their jobs between 1983 and 1984 [Uchikawa 1998: 159]. In the survey conducted in 1984, out of 5, 773 ex-workers only 44.4% could get a new job. Among those who got a selfemployed job (1, 470 persons), 58, 16% (855 persons), engaged in commerce (most of them were street vendors) [Patel 1988: 24, 30]. 8 The Indian Penal Code (Section 283, in Chapter XIV, Of Offences Affecting the Public Health, Safety, Convenience, Decency and Morals), which was drafted in 1860 and came to force in 1862, is also related to these local Acts. It states, “Whoever, by doing any act or by omitting to take order with any property in his possession or under his charge, causes danger, obstruction or injury to any person in any public way or public line of navigation, shall be punished with fine which may extend to two hundred rupees”. 9 Interview with Ms. Manaliben Shah of SEWA, on 5 December 2012. 10 For details, see Bhatt 2006; Te Lintelo 2010. 11 It was a part of the Textile Labour Association (TLA), which was founded in 1920. After a communal violence in 1981, SEWA became independent from TLA, being led by Ela Bhatt, who was a lawyer in TLA [Bhatt 2006].

50  Ayako Iwatani 12 Their support covers banking, health/medical services, and legal consultancy. In 2011, the organization spread in nine states in India and there were 3, 000, 000 members. See for details about the organization. 13 Article 19 (1) g declares that all citizens shall have the right to practise any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business. 14 Interview with Ms. Manaliben Shah of SEWA on 5 December 2012. 15 Interview with Ms. Manaliben Shah of SEWA on 5 December 2012. 16 Interview with Ms. Manaliben Shah of SEWA on 5 December 2012. 17 According to an interview with two shop owners (a 50  year-old-man, who runs his father’s shop of children’s clothes, and a 40 year-old-man, who runs his father’s shop of clothes for men) on 13 December 2012. 18 Interview with Ms. Manaliben Shah of SEWA on 5 December 2012. 19 Article in Indian Express, 7 February 2010. 20 According to an interview with a shop owner (a 58-year-old man, who has run his father’s shoe shop for 42 years) on 13 December 2012. 21 According to an interview with a shop owner (a 43-year-old man, who runs his father’s clothes shop) on 13 December 2012. 22 According to an interview on 28 May 2011. 23 For details see ‘Historic City of Ahmadabad’ in the UNESCO homepage. 24 ‘Project Objectives’. See 25 Until 28 November 2012, 14, 000 families had moved. For the new housing, the AMC first lends 3, 000 rupees to each household. Each household pays 500 rupees back every month. Each household pays 25% of the total amount of this allocation, the state government pays 25% and the central government pays 50% [from an interview with Nafis Ahmed, the president of the Ahmedabad Gujari Association, on 28 November 2012]. 26 The Ahmedabad Gujari Association was founded in 1944 and became a registered body in 1973. They have issued a membership card since 1973. In 2011, 1, 278 street vendors were registered as members. The association collects 5 rupees for a place in the market. Non-members can also do business but require the permission of the association. Vendors must pay a fine of 50 rupees if they do business without permission. The location of the stalls is decided by the association [from an interview with Nafis Ahmed on 24 April 2011]. 27 Interview with Nafis Ahmed on 24 April 2011. 28 The Bazar was relocated into nearly the same place in 2014. 29 According to the scrap-collecting shop owner, there are more than 1, 000 such shops in Ahmedabad. After collecting scraps from collectors, the shop gives them to a bigger scrap shop (bhangār no dehlu) depending on the kind of scrap. Then the scraps are sent to recycling factories for burning or melting. 30 Six out of 18 customers came from outside of Ahmedabad district (locations marked by * in Table 2.4). 31 The upper- and the middle-class people usually don’t buy used clothes in India, but they may purchase used items in the future, and there is a big global market for old clothes [Norris 2010; Iwatani 2012]. 32 According to the survey conducted in 2009 by the AMC, among 390 street vendors, 1% are women [Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation 2010: 88].

References Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation.2010. Street Vendor’s Policy for Ahmedabad City, Final Report. Ahmedabad: Centre for Environmental Planning & Technology. Bhargava, Rajeev.2005. ‘Introduction’, in Rajeev Bhargava and Helmut Reifeld (eds), Civil Society, Public Sphere and Citizenship: Dialogues and Perceptions. New Delhi: SAGE Publications Pvt. Ltd.

Streets as spaces of social inclusion  51 Bhatt, Ela R.2006. We Are Poor But So Many: The Story of Self-Employed Women in India. New Delhi: Oxford University Press. Bhattacharya, Neeladri.2003. ‘Predicaments of Mobility: Peddlers and Itinerants in Nineteenth-Century Northwestern India’, in Claude Markovits, Jacques Pouchepadass and Sanjay Subrahmanyam (eds.), Society and Circulation: Mobile People and Itinerant Cultures in South Asia 1750–1950, pp. 163–214. Delhi: Permanent Black. Brosius, Christian.2010. India’s Middle Class: New Forms of Urban Leisure, Consumption and Prosperity. New Delhi: Taylor & Francis. Brown, Alison.2006. Contested Space: Street Trading, Public Space, and Livelihoods in Developing Cities. Warwickshire: ITDG Publishing. Commissariat, M. S.1995. Mandelslo’s Travels in Western India (1638–1639). New Delhi: Asian Educational Series. Edensor, Tim.1998. ‘The Culture of Indian Street’, in Nicholas Fyfe (ed.), Images of the Street: Planning, Identity and Control in Public Space, pp.  205–21. London: Routledge. Fernandes, Leela.2006. India’s New Middle Class: Democratic Politics in an Era of Economic Reform. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Habermas, Jürgen.1992. The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere: Inquiry into a Category of Bourgeois Society. Cambridge: Polity Press. Iwatani, Ayako.2012. ‘Do Street Stalls Dream of Malls? Street Vending Business in Globalizing India’, in Yuko Mio and Tokoro Ikuya (eds.), Globalizations, pp.  145–174. Tokyo: Kōbun-Do. (in Japanese) Jhabvala, Renana.2000. ‘Roles and Perceptions’, Seminar, 491. John, Paul and Ashish Vashi.2010. Ahmedabad Next: Towards a World Heritage City. Ahmedabad: Hitesh Budhbhatti Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd. Kaviraj, Sudipta.1997. ‘Filth and the Public Sphere: Concepts and Practices About Space in Calcutta’. Public Culture, 10 (1): 83–113. Kumar, Sanjay and Sharit K. Bhowmik.2010. ‘Street Vending in Delhi’, in Sharit Bhowmik (ed.), Street Vendors in the Global Urban Economy, pp.  46–68. New Delhi: Routledge. Law, Setha and Neil Smith.2006. The Politics of Public Space. New York: Routledge. Norris, Lucy.2010. Recycling Indian Clothing: Global Contexts of Reuse and Value. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Patel, B. B.1988. Workers of Closed Textile Mills: Patterns and Problems of Their Absorption in a Metropolitan Labour Market. Delhi: Oxford and IBH Publishing. Rani, Uma and Jeemol Unni.2000. Urban Informal Sector: Size and Income Generation Processes in Gujarat, Part II, Report No.3. New Delhi: National Council of Applied Economic Research. Rykwert, Joseph.1991. ‘The Street: The Use of Its History’, in Stanford Anderson (ed.), On Streets, pp. 15–27. Cambridge: MIT Press. Te Lintelo, Dolf J. H.2010. ‘Advocacy Coalitions Influencing Informal Sector Policy: The Case of India’s National Urban Street Vendors Policy’, in Sharit Bhowmik (ed.), Street Vendors in the Global Urban Economy, pp.  275–309. New Delhi: Routledge. Uchikawa, Shuji.1998. Indian Textile Industry: State Policy, Liberalization and Growth. New Delhi: Manohar Publishers & Distributors. Yanagisawa, Haruka.2014. Modern Indian Economy: the Source, Trajectory and Prospect of Development. Nagoya: Nagoya University Press. (in Japanese)

52  Ayako Iwatani Databases The Bombay Police Act.1951. Online: html/racti_police_act_1951.pdf. The Bombay Provincial Municipal Corporations Act.1949. Online: pdf/bpmcact.pdf. The Constitution of India.1949. Article 19. The Indian Express.2010. Online: February. Indian Penal Code.1860. Online: www. Ministry of Urban Development and Poverty Alleviation.2004. Online: in/policies/natpol.htm. National Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganized Sector (NCEUS).2006. National Policy on Urban Street Vendors: Report & Recommendations. Online: http://nceuis.nic. in/Street%20Vendors%20policy.pdf. Sabarmati Riverfront.2017. Project Objectives. Online: project-objectives. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.2011. Historic City of Ahmadabad. Online:

3 The nation-states and exclusion of minorities in India The case of Gujarati Muslims Kazuya Nakamizo

3.1 The question In multi-ethnic nation-states, the inclusion or exclusion of minority communities has always been a focal point. The majority community tends to be dominant in every sphere  – that is, political, economic and social fields in general  – which threatens the position of minorities in many cases. At the same time, in the era of the modern nation-state system, every citizen has equal rights irrespective of the numerical strength of communities which they belong to, though their rights are sometimes just on paper. If the state and the majority community oppress minorities by using violent means and destroying the lives of minorities, the legitimacy of the state and the majority community will be seriously damaged, even in the non-democratic authoritarian states. For example, the socialist regimes of the Soviet Union and communist China paid careful attention to ethnic minorities at the time of the formation of governing institutions, being aware of the legitimacy of the regime. This question – that is, the inclusion or exclusion of minorities – becomes more acute in democratic nation-states. In a democracy, majority rule is institutionalized as a principle in the decision-making process, such as the elections of representatives and the enactments of laws. At the same time, minorities can ask for protection and promote their demands by using due legitimate non-violent processes, since democratic institutions guarantee basic human rights to every individual citizen as mentioned. If the majority accepts the demands of the minority, or both sides come to a compromise, we can expect the smooth functioning of democracy. However, if the majority refuses to protect and accept the demands of the minority, or both sides fail to compromise, it may invite serious problems. There is always a potential danger of ‘majority tyranny’ in a democracy, as Robert Alan Dahl (1963) and many other political scientists have been discussing, which we examine soon. Thus there exists a dilemma between democracy and a multiethnic nation-state. Is it possible to realize a harmonious relationship between majority and minority communities in a multi-ethnic nation-state? How does the issue of inclusion or exclusion relate to this agenda in a democratic setting? How does the interaction between the state and the society affect the relationship between the majority and

54  Kazuya Nakamizo the minority communities in a democratic state? These are the issues that I wish to explore in this chapter. To consider these questions, I examine the case of the Muslim community in the Indian state of Gujarat. India is well known for its outstanding record of maintaining democratic institutions, which is a rarity in developing countries. At the same time, India, which is known for the slogan ‘unity in diversity’, is a multiethnic nation-state in terms of race, language, religion, caste and so on. Among many important issues, the promise of secularism has been one of the most important issues since Independence. After experiencing the horrible communal violence during Partition, which was the most extreme form of exclusion, the Indian state made a promise to its people that no one would ever be killed again for differences in religion. However, this promise was broken, especially after the late 1980s. The 2002 Gujarat carnage, the worst scale violence since Independence, is still fresh in our memories. The serious oppression of the religious minority by the religious majority is a very urgent task to be tackled in India. In this chapter, I would like to focus on the conditions of Muslims after the 2002 Gujarat carnage. As I have just mentioned, religious riots against the Muslim community constitute the most extreme form of exclusion of a minority community. In this context, it is very important to analyse the reasons for the outbreak of carnage and the changing social relationship between the Hindu majority and the Muslim minority communities after the carnage. How did the state treat the minority community after the 2002 carnage? How did the relationship between the majority and minority communities change after the riots? Has there been any relief for the minority community under continuous majority rule? By analyzing these questions, this chapter will contribute to the discussion of the exclusion of minorities in India and the world in this age of global democratization.

3.2 Argument India has been a focal case for the study of the dilemma between democracy and a multi-ethnic nation-state in the field of comparative politics. Arend Lijphart, proponent of consociational theory, once treated India as the one major deviant case. Later, however, he claims that the experience of India is a case that gives strong support for consociational theory. According to Lijphart, consociational democracy is characterized by the following four points: (1) a grand coalition government that includes representatives of all major linguistic and religious groups, (2) cultural autonomy for these groups, (3) proportionality in political representation and civil service appointments and (4) a minority veto with regard to vital minority rights and autonomy (1996: 258). By examining these four points, he analysed that India had fulfilled these conditions during the time of Jawaharlal Nehru, but after Indira Gandhi took over power, the consociational character of Indian democracy was eroded due to the concentration of power in her, which finally led to an intensification of communal conflict. In this context, the case of India is not an exception, but strongly supports consociational theory.

Inclusion and exclusion of minorities  55 Lijphart’s argument is criticized by scholars of Indian studies. For example, Steven I. Wilkinson points out that communal conflict intensified after Indian democracy became more consociational, and thus consociational theory is not applicable to India (2000). According to Wilkinson, the Indira regime was more consociational than Nehru’s regime in terms of increasing the political participation of the lower strata of Indian society – that is, the backward classes, which caused social tensions. Her authoritarian tendency was a reaction to this consociational drive in Indian democracy. Adding to this, he also points out that pre-Independence periods which were equipped with better consociational institutions experienced more communal conflict, even if we exclude the tremendous religious riots during Partition. It is doubtful that we can regard the pre-Independence period as a consociational democracy, because universal franchise was not realized under British rule. However, Wilkinson’s criticism of consociational theory is persuasive. It is certain that active voters (previously fewer by exclusion or by their own choice) increasingly participated in the political process during the Indira regime, as with the JP Movement in the mid-1970s, for example, in which backward classes demanded a greater share of political power. In this process, communal conflict between Hindus and Muslims intensified as Lijphart and Wilkinson rightly recognize. One of the important and interesting topics of Indian politics is to analyse the relationship between an increasing consociational tendency and an intensification of communal conflict. Recently, Alfred Stepan, Juan J. Linz and Yogendra Yadav have proposed the new analytical framework of the state-nation approach for solving the dilemma between democracy and a multi-ethnic nation-state. They analyse the case of India as being a success case in overcoming this dilemma, claiming that the Indian experience is a typical case of the state-nation approach. According to them, the state-nation approach consists of seven nested policy grammars such as (1) an asymmetrical federal state but not a symmetrical federal state or a unitary state, (2) individual rights and collective recognition, (3) a parliamentary instead of a presidential or semi-presidential system, (4) polity-wide and ‘centric-regional’ parties and careers, (5) politically integrated but not culturally assimilated populations, (6) cultural nationalists versus secessionist nationalists and (7) a pattern of multiple but complementary identities (2011: 17–18). In their analysis, India has been implementing these policies and has succeeded in maintaining both peaceful relationships among various social groups and national integration. The projected state-nation framework has some merit in solving the dilemma between democracy and a multi-ethnic nation-state. However, this approach does not solve the question of minorities that do not have a territorial base. A typical case is the Indian Muslims. They try to answer this question by analysing the case of the 2002 Gujarat carnage, but they do not succeed in providing a satisfactory answer as they admit, “The anti-Muslim pogrom of 2002 in Gujarat reminds us that the success of a state-nation is contingent on continuous political practices”. (2011: 88) How, then, can we solve the dilemma of democracy and a multi-ethnic nation-state? Can we provide a viable answer to this question?

56  Kazuya Nakamizo

3.3 Muslims in India Before examining the case of Gujarat, let us take a brief look at the general situation of Muslims in India. The Muslim question in India has its origins in the pre-Independence period. India and Pakistan separately declared independence in August 1947, despite desperate efforts by M. K. Gandhi to prevent the Partition. The core issue that led to the Partition was the status of the minority Muslim community, as the M. A. Jinnah–led Muslim League forcefully demanded parity with Congress, its rival. In 1940, the Muslim League adopted the Lahore Resolution, also known as the Pakistan Resolution, which claimed that areas with Muslim majorities “should be grouped to constitute Independent States in which the constituent units shall be autonomous and sovereign”, although the Muslim League never explicitly mentioned Partition or Pakistan in that resolution (Jalal 1985: 58). According to Ayesha Jalal, the adoption of this resolution was a well-considered tactic employed by Jinnah in his negotiations with the British government and Congress to ensure the protection of Muslim rights, and Jinnah did not truly intend to create the independent nation-state of Pakistan during the initial stage of negotiations (Jalal: 57). However, Pakistan became a reality. Pakistan was born as a Muslim-dominated country and, by contrast, India was formed as a Hindudominated country. The logic of creating Pakistan came to be known as the ‘twonations theory’ in which Hindus and Muslims have separate nations. Before and after the Partition, massive migration occurred between the two countries. Muslims who lived in present-day India moved to East and West Pakistan, and Hindus and Sikhs who lived in present-day Pakistan and Bangladesh moved to India. This migration, which was of an unprecedented magnitude in world history, was accompanied by tremendous religious riots (Sarkar 1983: 432–9). It is estimated that over one million deaths resulted from these riots, although precise figures have never been determined. This tragedy was an extremely traumatic experience for both nations, and its effects have lingered to the present (Butalia 1998: 3–6). Reflecting on these tragic experiences, India was founded as a secular state where the government made a firm promise that there would be no more killings caused by religious differences. Under the banner of secularism, the Congress government emphasized the necessity of protecting minority rights in a Hindudominated nation. Immediately after Independence, Nehru wrote to the chief ministers, “Whatever the provocation from Pakistan and whatever the indignities and horrors inflicted on non-Muslims there, we have to deal with minority in a civilized manner. We must give them security and the rights of citizens in a democratic state”. (Hasan 1997: 151) One of these measures by the Nehru government was to institute separate personal laws based on religion. What is the condition of Indian Muslims after 60  years of Independence? Put simply, they are in trouble. Their socio-economic status is nearly as low as those of the SCs/STs, and they suffer humiliation in daily life, in addition to being exposed to the occurrence of riots. According to the report of the Sachar Committee, They (Muslims) carry a double burden of being labelled as “anti-national” and as being “appeased” at the same time. While Muslims need to prove on

Inclusion and exclusion of minorities  57 a daily basis that they are not “anti-national” and “terrorists”, it is not recognized that the alleged “appeasement” has not resulted in the desired level of socio-economic development of the Community. (2007: 11) Let me provide a few select and important socio-economic indicators: poverty, education and employment. First, regarding the Poverty Index, the condition of Muslims on the whole is slightly better than those of SCs/STs. The Head Count Ratio (HCR, percentage below the poverty line) of Muslims was the second worst, 31%, after the 35% rate of the SCs/STs in 2004–05 (Sachar: 157–62). The average percentage for India as a whole was 22.7%. In urban areas, where 35.7% of Muslims lived,1 the Muslim HCR was the highest at 38.4%, followed closely by SCs/STs at 36.4%. Second, regarding education, the condition for Muslims is also only slightly higher than that for SCs/STs. In 2001, the Muslim literacy rate was 59.1%, below the national average (65.1%) (Sachar: 52). The lowest record was 52.2%, for SCs/ STs, and the rate for the ‘All Other’ category was 70.8%. Regarding the level of educational attainment, Muslims are close to or only slightly higher than that of SCs/ STs and much lower than other Socio-Religious Categories (SRCs) (Sachar: 59–64). Lastly, regarding employment, a relatively large proportion of Muslim workers (61%) were engaged in self-employed activities, compared to approximately 55% of Hindu workers. Additionally, the percentage of Muslim workers employed in salaried jobs was quite low (13%), as is that of SCs/STs, in contrast to Hindu upper-caste workers (25%) (Sachar: 91–93). Regarding the civil service, for example, Muslims only accounted for 3% in the IAS (Indian Administrative Service), 1.8% in IFS (Indian Foreign Service) and 4% in IPS (Indian Police Service) (Sachar: 165). Apart from these socio-economic difficulties, the most serious threat to Muslims is from religious riots. Although Nehru, early in the country’s post-Independence history, promised that religious riots would never happen in India, the number of riots has increased since the mid-1980s as shown in Figure 3.1. In India, most of the victims of the riots were Muslims, which is the main cause for Muslim anxiety. Religious violence deepened the social cleavages between Hindus and Muslims, which was indirectly responsible for the low socio-economic status of Muslims. The political processes that led to the ‘season of riots’ are complicated. Briefly, there are three interacting factors. The first factor is the Punjab problem during the 1980s, which gave importance to ‘religious identity’ as a political issue. The second factor is renewed religious mobilization by the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party), especially after the miserable defeat of BJP in the 1984 general election, which highlighted the Ayodhya dispute. The last is a change in the policy of the Congress Party from secularism to the ‘appeasement’ policy towards both the Hindu right wing and Muslim conservative, which responded to the vigorous religious mobilization by BJP (Manor 1990; Brass 1991; Jafrrelot 1996; Nakamizo 2012). The 2002 Gujarat carnage was the outcome of dynamic interaction between these three factors.

58  Kazuya Nakamizo

Figure 3.1 Hindu-Muslim riots in India (1950–95) Source: Varshney-Wilkinson Dataset on Hindu-Muslim Violence in India, Version 2 Note: In instances where the column ‘killed’ is blank in the original data, I counted it as not having created fatalities. The data are based on reports in the Times of India; the number of fatalities is likely to be below the actual number. For example, although more than 1, 000 people were killed in the Bhagalpur riots in 1989, the paper reported only 396 fatalities. In spite of these problems, I use this data because of the long time span, from 1950 to 1995, using the same source, which is very useful for understanding the overall trend of Hindu-Muslim riots in India.

Congress was defeated in the 1989 Lok Sabha election due to the change of its own secular policy, which was typically exemplified by the failure to contain the religious riots caused by the Ram Shila processions (Nakamizo 2012: 139–232). By replacing Congress, the BJP first became the largest party in the 1996 election and then went on to win the 1998 and 1999 elections. Their coalition, the National Democratic Alliance, succeeded in controlling the central government from 1998 to 2004. The horrific 2002 carnage in Gujarat took place under this government.

3.4 2002 Gujarat carnage Gujarat is a state located on the Pakistani border and was invaded by Pakistan in 1965, immediately prior to the Second Indo-Pakistani War (Ganguly 1997: 53–7). In 1969, after the conclusion of the war, Gujarat experienced one of the worst riots since Independence.2 Although the region has witnessed a series of religious riots since, the 2002 carnage was among the most serious riots that have occurred in Gujarat.

Inclusion and exclusion of minorities  59 The starting point of the 2002 carnage was the Godhra incident. Although many uncertainties regarding this incident remain, it is clear that the clash between Hindu pilgrims to Ayodhya and local Muslims occurred at Godhra Station on the pilgrims’ return journey from Ayodhya on 27 February 2002. Immediately after the departure of the Sabarmati Express carrying the Hindu pilgrims, one coach was set on fire. As a result, 58 Hindu pilgrims, including women and children, were burnt to death. Although the cause of this fire remains unclear, the BJP state government, led by Narendra Modi, the current prime minister of India, immediately denounced Muslims and Pakistanis for conspiring to cause the incident. The then Union Home minister, L. K. Advani quickly followed suit. BJP representatives branded local Muslims as Pakistani agents without any evidence, and these accusations became a staple for later propaganda that justified atrocities against Muslims.3 The VHP (Vishwa Hindu Parishad) decided to hold a Bandh (general strike) in protest the next day, 28 February. Although Bandhs had led to religious riots in the past, this Bandh was endorsed by the BJP. Unsurprisingly, riots began immediately on the morning of 28 February, when Hindu nationalists began to attack and massacre Muslims with the tacit support of the police force. Chief Minister Narendra Modi defended the riots using the justification that “every action has an equal and opposite reaction” (Chenoy et al.2002: 262; Basu &Roy 2004: 339) and made no attempt to contain the riots.4 As a result, the riots spread extensively, and Muslim-inhabited areas were attacked as ‘mini-Pakistan’. More than 2, 000 Muslims were killed in the process.5 The Modi government used the ‘Muslim menace’ for political gain. For instance, Modi urged the Indian Election Commission to hold elections to the state assembly earlier than originally scheduled in an attempt to employ antiMuslim sentiment to its greatest extent; however, these efforts were in vain. Modi then attempted to maintain his popular momentum and decided to call for a mobilization programme, Gaurav (pride) Yatra. When Akshardham temple (a Hindu temple) was attacked by two terrorists in September 2002, an incident in which 37 persons were killed, Modi and Advani accused Pakistan of having fomented the act of terror. In his speech advocating restarting Gaurav Yatra, Modi blamed the then Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf for instigating a conspiracy to assassinate him and claimed that terrorists had launched attacks to stop the Jammu and Kashmir elections and to demand the release of ten jailed terrorists.6 The hate campaign attacking Muslims and Pakistanis continued until the December 2002 state assembly elections. Modi’s anti-Muslim and anti-Pakistani propaganda reached its climax during the 2002 election campaign. In his last campaign speech, he told voters, “You decide whether there should be a Diwali or whether firecrackers should burst in Pakistan”. Posters distributed all over the state depicted Modi and Musharraf as adversaries.7 In the 2007 state assembly election campaign, Modi emphasized economic growth. At the same time, he continued to use anti-Muslim and anti-Pakistani propaganda, albeit in a more gradual and measured manner (Jaffrelot 2008:

60  Kazuya Nakamizo 12–14). Modi was re-elected by a sound majority in 2007 and won again in 2012. Finally, he became the prime minister of India with a full majority in the 2014 Lok Sabha election. In the 2014 Lok Sabha election campaign, Modi vigorously projected himself as a ‘man of Development’, but he is ready to use anti-Muslim and anti-Pakistani propaganda whenever necessary.8

3.5 After the 2002 carnage For the victims who somehow survived, the painful situation continued after the 2002 carnage. The riots went on for three months, and approximately 140, 000 people had to escape to refugee camps (Yagnik & Sheth 2005: 282). Ten years after the riots, 16, 087 people still live in 83 colonies built by voluntary agencies, mainly Muslim organizations, spread across eight districts in Gujarat.9These ‘Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) ’ have been generally neglected by the Modi government. According to a survey conducted and published in 2012 by the Ahmedabad-based NGO Janvikas, they are denied basic facilities, 86% of colonies do not have roads linking them to the outside world, 47% do not have health centres in the vicinity, 33% do not have access to a proper water supply and 81% do not have proper drainage systems.10 One of the most well-known colonies is Citizen Nagar, which is located near a huge garbage dump.11 There are 116 families living there, victims of the Naroda Patiya and Naroda Gaon massacres, two of the worst scenes of carnage. The colony is permeated with the smell of rot. Residents lack access to good roads, a health-care system and safe water.12 In the rainy season, the situation becomes even worse because of the flooding due to the lack of a proper drainage system. According to one resident, “We don’t have any government support. We don’t have BPL cards, though government issued cards to SCs and STs. We Muslims are excluded”.13 This statement has a certain basis in fact. We shall examine three fields here: poverty, education and employment. (a) Poverty Let us start our examination from the macro data. Regarding poverty incidence, the record of Gujarat shows a remarkable difference between urban and rural areas (Table 3.1). In urban areas, the HCR of Muslims is the worst among all communities. Their record (24%) is 7 points higher than that of SCs/STs (17%) and more than twice as much as the state average (11%). However, in rural areas, the record of Muslims is quite good. It is 17 points less than SCs/STs and half the state average (14%). Considering the higher ratio of Muslims in the urban population of Gujarat (58.7%) (Sachar 2007: 281, Appendix Table 3.9), the average HCR of Muslims is less than the average of Gujarat’s as a whole, though it is better than the all-India average for Muslims.

Inclusion and exclusion of minorities  61 Table 3.1 Poverty incidence across socio-religious categories in 2004–05 All

Urban All India Gujarat Rural All India Gujarat



Other minorities





22.8 (%) 11

20.4 10

36.4 17

25.1 18

8.3 3

38.4 24

12.2 0

22.7 14

22.6 15

34.8 24

19.5 14

9.0 3

26.9 7

14.3 6

Source: Compiled by the author from Sachar Commission (2007: 159, Table 8.3, 160, Table 8.4)

Table 3.2 Achievement of Garib Kalyan Mela (2009–11)

Beneficiaries (in lakh) Amount distributed (in crore)







6.37 (11%) 585 (7%)

15.05 (26%) 1, 914 (24%)

17.13 (30%) 1, 958 (25%)

0.9 (1.56%) 109 (1.38%)

17.97 (31%) 3, 344 (42%)

57.42 (100%) 7, 910 (100%)

Source: Rajiv Shah, ‘Garib Kalyan melas have neglected minorities: Data’, Times of India, Ahmedabad, 3 February 2012

In this context, we consider the example of Garib Kalyan Mela (Welfare Scheme for the Poor).14 The Modi government began this programme in December 2009 to assist the poor segments of society. The data clearly demonstrates the exclusion of Muslims (Table 3.2). Of the total of 5, 742, 000 beneficiaries, minorities, most of whom are Muslim, account for only 1.56%. Regarding the amount distributed, the figure is even worse at 1.38%. Considering the composition of the population of Gujarat, it becomes clear that Muslims are excluded from this scheme.15 Even when Muslims approach the authorities with genuine BPL cards, they are refused benefits with the reason “your name is not in our list”. The authorities then refuse to add their names to the list. According to a recent Survey of Ahmedabad Slums (2009–10), some sizeable Muslim areas are excluded from the list.16 These are just examples, but they are useful for grasping an idea of the reality. (b) Education Education is one of the most important methods for social uplifting. We briefly reviewed the general conditions of Indian Muslims previously. In Gujarat, the Muslim literacy level (73.5%) was higher than that for Hindus (68.3%) in 2001 (Sachar 2007: 287, Appendix Table 4.1). However, this is not necessarily the result of the efforts by the state government. On the contrary, this literacy rate was

62  Kazuya Nakamizo achieved through the Muslim community’s own effort. The 2002 carnage accelerated this tendency towards self-help. Recognizing the inferior position of Muslims because of the 2002 carnage, the Muslim community has set up additional Muslim educational institutions to improve their overall condition, in which their number increased from 200 in 2002 to 800 in 2010.17 Gujarati Muslims are now eager to attain higher education. Their efforts to help themselves are the result of government negligence. Moreover, the Modi state government was actively disturbing their efforts. Let us consider the example of scholarships. From 2008, the central Congress government started the new Pre-Matric Scholarship Scheme for Minorities following the Prime Minister’s New 15 Point Programme for the Welfare of Minorities.18 This scheme planned to provide scholarships for 107, 955 Gujarati minorities (including 100, 177 Muslims) from 2008–09 to 2010–11. The Modi government, however, refused to implement the scheme by claiming that this scheme was unconstitutional.19 After the long legal struggle, the Modi state government finally announced the implementation of this scheme on 22 May 2013, following the Supreme Court order to implement the scheme.20 Many Muslim students were deprived of this precious opportunity by Modi government for five years. Another important change in education is the communalization after the 2002 carnage. Separating the living areas of Hindus and Muslims, the so-called ghettoization of Muslims, gradually began after the 1985 riots and has now been almost completed since the 2002 carnage. The Muslims are excluded from the so-called Hindu posh area on the western bank of the Sabarmati River. There are few Muslims living there except in Paldi and Navrangpura.21 This segregation affects the communalization of education. It is natural that the public schools in Hindu areas are being dominated by Hindus, and vice versa. According to Congress leader J. V. Momin, “Some so called elite schools do not admit Muslim children, unless parents give a major donation or use some influence”.22 This type of communal segregation at the school level must have a substantial impact on the future relationship between the communities. (c) Employment Here I focus on employment by state governments. Gujarat has a poor record of Muslim employment in government service as in other states (see Table 3.3). The percentages of employment in both ‘higher positions’ and ‘lower positions’ are short of the population percentage (9.1%). However, if we take the percentages of Muslim representation in the Muslim population of each state, the record of Gujarat are better than the average percentage of ‘sum of states’. Regarding higher positions, the percentage of Muslim representation in Gujarat is roughly 37%, which is better than 35% of the ‘sum of state’. And regarding lower positions, the percentage of Gujarat is about 60% which is much better than 35% of ‘sum of states’. This relatively better record, however, does not mean that Gujarati Muslims are blessed, as a poor record of Muslim employment in total shows.

Inclusion and exclusion of minorities  63 Table 3.3 Shares of Muslim employees in selected state governments

Gujarat Sum of states

Total number of employees

Muslim population (%)

Higher positions

Lower positions

754, 533 4, 452, 851

9.1 16.0

3.4 5.7

5.5 5.6

Source: Compiled by the author from Sachar (2007: 170, Table 9.5) Note: The original table includes Gujarat, West Bengal, Kerala, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Assam, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Delhi, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu.

Table 3.4 Share of Muslim employees in selected state government departments States

Gujarat Sum of states

Muslim population

9.1 16.0

Education dept.

Home dept.

Health dept.

Transport dept.









1.7 5.7

4.5 6.2

5.6 8.7

5.6 5.6

2.2 4.4

1.5 3.5

9.4 1.6

16.3 6.9

Source: Compiled by the author from Sachar (2007: 171, Table 9.6) Note: ‘High’ means a high position. ‘Low’ means a low position. States other than Gujarat are West Bengal, Kerala, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Assam, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Delhi, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu.

Table 3.4 presents a more detailed description of the employment situation in state departments. Firstly, Gujarat has poor records of Muslim employment as in other states except the Transport Department. Only the Transport Department employs more than the percentage of state Muslim population. Comparing with other states, the record of Gujarat is better in the percentage of Muslim representation in the total state Muslim population, except the higher position of the Education Department and the higher and lower positions of the Health Department. However, as I mentioned, this does not mean that Gujarati Muslims are blessed. The Education Department of Gujarat especially employs surprisingly few Muslims compared to other states, which may have a damaging impact on the future of Gujarati Muslims. While there are certainly many causes for this low level of Muslim employment, we can highlight one important factor: the exclusion of Muslims from the list of OBCs. The Sachar Commission found that there were 85 Muslim communities in Gujarat, of which at least 76 were non-ashraf. However, only 22 communities have been entered on the central list, and only 27 communities are included on the state list (2007: 201). Nearly 50 Muslim communities are excluded. Although other states, such as Bihar, have the same problems, only 23 communities are included in the central list of the 37 communities that the Sachar Commission found as non-ashraf, the gap in Gujarat is remarkable. Since the state government sets the state list of OBCs, there must be some intent behind this disparity.

64  Kazuya Nakamizo Examining these data, it becomes clear that the statement “we Muslims are excluded” by a resident of Citizen Nagar has statistical base.

3.6 Possibility of solving the dilemma Under the tyranny of the majority, can we find a way to solve the dilemma between democracy and a multi-ethnic society? To consider this question, let’s first think about the options which Muslims in Gujarat currently have. Basically, there are three options: to protest, to make a deal or to keep silent. To protest against the government, courage, knowledge and organizational skills are necessary. Many qualified citizens such as NGO activists, lawyers, journalists, scholars and victims of riots are working hard to ensure justice and establish a secular society. They put pressure not only on the then Modi state government and the High Court but also on the central government and the Supreme Court. Although they are still far from their desired goals, they have had some success. However, in terms of numbers, they are a minority among minority Muslims.23 The second option is to side with Modi. This attitude is typically seen among wealthy businessmen. Let us examine the logic of one of the most vocal persons in this circle.24 First, he emphasized that he was one of the most affected victims of the riots, but, at the same time, claimed that it was against the Islamic doctrine to make their wounds into ornaments. While he made the point that offenders who instigated the riots must be punished by due process, he stressed that it was time to start a dialogue with the then Modi state government and improve the condition of the Muslim community. In fact, he was the only official BMW dealer in Gujarat at the time of the interview and had an office in the ‘Hindu posh area’, which would be difficult without some connection to the government. Another successful businessman’s logic differs from the aforementioned. He emphasized the importance of diligence.25 When shown a picture of a ceremony where he received a prize from Modi, he explained that Modi, despite being antiMuslim, was forced by Allah to admit his efforts and give him a prize. He suffered significant hardships from the 2002 carnage; however, he was able to recover from his losses and develop further through hard work. In this sense, the 2002 carnage was a “blessing in disguise”. While he denied making a deal with Modi, he stressed that diligence is the most important quality for Muslims to progress. Their logic seems clear. However, for the majority of Muslims, especially for riot victims who still live in desperate conditions in ‘ghetto’ colonies and face daily harassment from the state and central governments, this must be a difficult choice. For example, one witness to the riots, which the BJP MLA (Member of Legislative Assembly) is accused of directing, faced the risk of assassination four times despite the protection of the state police, Delhi police and the army.26 It is not surprising that fear has spread among the resource-less majority of Muslims.27 Thus the third option, to keep silent, becomes their best option. How, then, can we imagine a way to solve the dilemma between democracy and a multi-ethnic nation-state? There are at least three existing institutional avenues: elections, federalism and the judicial systems.

Inclusion and exclusion of minorities  65 The first way is to use elections, which is a common strategy in India. At present, there are only two viable parties in Gujarat: the BJP and the Congress. If Congress wins in the next state assembly election, it will be easier to find a way to solve the dilemma. They can make demands on the government with less fear than at present. However, in the 2012 election, the Modi-led BJP government won with a sound majority. Adding to this state assembly election, the Modi-led BJP got a full majority in Parliament as the result of the 2014 Lok Sabha election. Modi has more power as the prime minister of India at present. However, election is the political institution in which the incumbent government can be defeated. Though India is under the rule of Hindu nationalist, there is still hope that the fear of majority tyranny can be reduced in the next elections. The second way is to use the federal structure. The Indian federal system succeeded the system of British India, which had strong central power. The central government can dismiss a state government using Article 356 in the case of a constitutional breakdown. During the 2002 carnage, the Modi government was not dismissed because the central government was also a BJP-led coalition; otherwise, it would have been dismissed, as was the case with the Uttar Pradesh BJP government during the demolition of Babri Masjid in 1992. In the case of the 2002 carnage, after the formation of the Manmohan Singh-led Congress coalition government, the new railway minister, Laloo Prasad Yadav, appointed a new commission (the U. G. Banerjee Commission) to investigate the Godhra incident (Jaffrelot 2012: 80). Although the Banerjee Commission report was rejected by the Gujarat High Court, it proposed an alternative explanation to the conclusions of the Modi-sponsored Nanavati-Shah Commission report. However, this option is also under stress following the recent political development. The central government and the Gujarat state government are ruled by BJP and its coalition partners, which has similar structure to that when the 2002 Gujarat carnage happened. It becomes quite difficult to expect the central government to restrain the oppression of Muslim minorities by the Gujarat BJP state government. Realizing this harsh political reality, there is still hope in the federal system. For example, there are some states in which the influence of BJP are quite limited such as Tamil Nadu and Kerala. There is at least some political space in which the secular movement can survive in India. This political space is significant to fight against the oppression of religious minority. The final way is active use of the judicial system. While the Gujarat High Court is under the influence of Modi, the Supreme Court is crucial for the realization of justice. Although the Special Investigation Team (SIT) has many functional problems (Jaffrelot 2012: 83), it increases to a certain extent the possibility of realizing justice. For example, thanks to the arrest of former BJP MLA Maya Kodani by the SIT,28 at least one Muslim victim regained the freedom to vote in the 2012 state assembly election. In the 2007 state assembly election, that person was intimidated and threatened into voting for Kodani, although that person’s family members were killed at the MLA’s direction.29 After Modi-led central government was formed, however, Maya Kodani was granted bail by Gujarat High Court.30 Following this

66  Kazuya Nakamizo development, that person may lose the freedom to vote again in the next elections. But at least one time, that person could vote freely. Apart from the judicial judgement, many advocates are acting for realizing justice. Their activities are legally guaranteed by the Indian judicial system. Though the Indian judicial system has many functional problems, it is surely one of the weapons to win justice to victims of oppression. Reflecting on the Indian experience, these existing democratic institutional mechanisms are extremely important, though they are not sufficiently viable to solve the dilemma between democracy and a multi-ethnic nation-state. To fully utilize these democratic institutions, active participation by citizens is very necessary, as Stepan, Linz and Yadav rightly pointed out, actual political practice is the key to solving this dilemma between democracy and multi-ethnic nation-state. Since Modi took over central government in 2014, the anti-Muslim campaign has been vigorously deployed by Sang Parivar. One such campaign is the ‘Love Jihad’ campaign which attacks Muslims for ‘abducting’ Hindu girls and ‘forcing’ Hindu girls to marry Muslims to establish Muslim dominancy in the future India.31 This is a long-standing and well-known anti-Muslim campaign by Sang Parivar; however, with new branding as ‘Love Jihad’, this anti-Muslim operation is accelerating without concrete evidence.32 In Bihar, just before the 2015 state assembly election, the media reported that the number of communal incidents has been increasing drastically since the break-up of Janata Dal (United) and the BJP coalition in 2013.33 In this current political situation, can we imagine the harmonious relationship between religious majority and minority communities? How can we overcome the majority tyranny? Under a desperate political situation, we can say at least one thing: the role of citizen’s groups is the only hope which we have in realizing justice and the democratic ideal in India. And India still has spaces in which they can act, though the spaces are forced to shrink. The efforts of civil society in this difficult time will have impacts beyond India to the world in the new age of democratic revolution.

Acknowledgement I would like to thank Prof. Imtiaz Ahmad (Jawaharlal Nehru University), Prof. Kamal Mitra Chenoy (Jawaharlal Nehru University) and Prof. Achin Vanaik (Delhi University) for very thoughtful suggestions and for their kind support. I would like to express my deepest gratitude to my all interviewees who spent their precious time with me in Ahmedabad. I would especially like to thank Dr. Hanif Lakdawala (Sanchetana), Ms. Sheba George (Sahewaru), Father Cedric Prakash (Prashant), Mr. Bhushan Oza, Ms Sophia Khan (Safar) and Prof. Achyut Yagnik for their kind assistance in my fieldwork. Without their help, I wouldn’t have been able to conduct my survey. Of course, I take full responsibility for any errors, factual or those of interpretation, in this chapter.

Notes 1 Some 27.8% of the total population lived in urban areas in 2001. See Sachar [2007: 35]. 2 According to the Justice Reddy Commission, 660 people were killed in Ahmedabad. For details, see Yagnik and Sheth [2011: 268–70]. However, the unofficial number of

Inclusion and exclusion of minorities  67 victims in Gujarat was over 3, 000. At the time of these riots, the Indian media were not well developed and could not cover these riots in keeping with modern expectations. See interview with Dr. Hanif Lakdawala on 11 February 2011. 3 See Chenoy et al. [2002: 240]. State Health Minister Ashok Bhatt stated, on the same day, 27 February, “Godhra has a notorious reputation” and “We suspect that many Pakistani live here illegally”. 4 According to a Frontline report, a Hindu testified to Modi’s inaction: “For three days after Godhra, he (Modi) let us react. He said, ‘Do what you want, you won’t be caught. The police won’t do anything’ ”. See Dionne Bunsha, ‘Riding the Hate Wave’, Frontline, 21 December 2002–3 January 2003. 20030103007812600.htm (last accessed on 17 June 2012). 5 The official death toll is 1, 169; however, some unofficial estimates claim that 5, 000 people were killed. It is very difficult to confirm an exact figure because many killings were not recorded properly. Most non-governmental reports put the number of deaths between 2, 000 and 2, 500. See Chatterjee [2009: 144] and Jaffrelot [2012: 77]. 6 See Dionne Bunsha, ‘The Modi Road Show’, Frontline, October 12–15, 2002. www. (last accessed on 17 June 2012). 7 See Dionne Bunsha, ‘Riding the Hate Wave’, Frontline, 21 December 2002–3 January  2003. (last accessed on 17 June 2012). 8 According to Achyut Yagnik, a prominent journalist in Gujarat, Modi’s strategy is composed of three elements: Hindu identity, Gujarati identity and development. His use of these three elements is dependent on the political situation at a given time. Interviews with Mr. Achyut Yagnik on 14 February 2011 and 15 March 2012. 9 See, ‘Activists Lament Gov Apathy toward Riots-Affected’, Indian Express, 1 March 2012. According to Dr. Hanif Lakdawala, the refugee number is between 35, 000 to 50, 000 in 86 colonies. Interview on 16 March 2012. See also his newspaper article, ‘Gujarat Has Not Been Fair to Its Muslims’, Daily News & Analysis (hereafter, DNA), on 15 February 2011. 10 See Roxy Gagdekar, ‘Muslims are Gujarat’s New Outcastes: Survey’, DNA, 1 March 2012. 11 I visited this colony for fieldwork on 19 March 2012. See also Bharat Yagnik, ‘Citizens’ Hell!’, The Times of India, Ahmedabad, 11 February 2012; Gopal Kateshiya and Mandar Chitre, ‘Relocated Survivors Living by the Garbage Dump’, Indian Express, Ahmedabad, 28 February 2012. Other newspaper articles also mentioned this colony. 12 According to a survey by the Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad, the borewell water in Citizen Nagar is not potable because of contamination. See Ujjawala Nayudu, ‘Borewell Water of Citizen Nagar Not Potable: Study’, Indian Express, Ahmedabad, 12 June 2009. (last accessed on 24 June 2012). 13 Interview with a resident of Citizen Nagar on 19 March 2012. 14 See, Rajiv Shah, ‘Garib Kalyan melas have neglected minorities: Data’, Times of India, Ahmedabad, 3 February 2012. 15 According to the Sachar Commission report, Gujarat is composed of Hindus (89.1%), Muslims (9.1%) and Other Minorities (1.8%). Among Hindus, SCs/STs compose 29%, OBCs 39.8% and General (Others) 31.2%, which is based on NSSO 55th round data. See Sachar [2007: 265, Table 1.1]. 16 Hanif Lakdawala, ‘Gujarat Has Not Been Fair to Its Muslims’, DNA, 15 February 2011. 17 Interviews with Mr. Achyut Yagnik on 15 March 2012 and Dr. Hanif Lakhdawala on 16 March 2012. 18 See Ministry of Minority Affairs website, (last accessed on 24 June 2012). 19 According to Hanif Lakdawala, the number of deprived students rose to 192, 000. See his article, ‘Gujarat Has Not Been Fair to Its Muslims’. For government statistics,

68  Kazuya Nakamizo

20 21

22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30


32 33

see ‘State/UT-wise & Community-wise Pre-matric Scholarship Allocation and Sanction for 2008–09, 2009–10, 2010–11’ 2008–2009. upload_files/moma/files/Allocation_Sanction2008-09_0.pdf, 2009–2010; www., 2010–2011; (last accessed on 24 June 2012). ‘Gujarat Govt. Announces to Implement Minority Scholarship Schemes’, Muslim Mirror, 22 May 2013. (last accessed on 21 September 2015). Interviews with Mr. Achyut Yagnik on 14 February 2011 and 15 March 2012, Dr. Hanif Lakdawala on 11 February 2011 and 16 March 2012, Ms. Sophia Khan on 17 February 2011 and 21 March 2011, Professor Abid Shamsi on 18 March 2012 and Mr. Adil Bhagadia on 16 March 2012. See Jumana Shah, ‘Ghettos: The Painful Legacy of 2002 Violence’, DNA, 26 February 2012. Interview with Professor Abid Shamsi on 18 March 2012. Interview with Mr. Zafar Sareshwala (Managing Director & CEO, Parsoli Corporation) on 21 March 2012. See also his interview with The Times of India, ‘Time to Move On’, on 26 February 2012. Interview with a successful businessman on 17 March 2012. Interview with a riot victim on 19 March 2012. See ‘Modi Has Created a Fear Psychosis in People’s Mind: Shabnam Hashmi’, DNA, 26 February 2012. See, Nikunj Soni, ‘For Kodnani, Riots Memories Turn Her Smile into Gloom’, DNA, 21 February 2012, and Jaffrelot [2012: 84]. Interview with a victim on 19 March 2012. ‘Naroda Patia Massacre: Maya Kodnani Granted Bail by Gujarat High Court’, Times of India, 30 July  2014. sacre-Maya-Kodnani-granted-bail-by-Gujarat-high-court/articleshow/39301263.cms (last accessed on 22 September 2015). For recent move, see Mohd Faisal Fareed, ‘Minority Panel Slaps Notice on Agra DM, SSP; Seeks Action against Bajrang Dal’, The Indian Express, 23 July  2015. http:// (last accessed on 23 September 2015). Punwani’s fieldworks show that the facts never support the claims of ‘Love Jihad’ campaign. See Punwani [2014]. According to newspaper reports, the number of communal incidents which were recorded and classified as ‘communal’ was 226 from January 2010 to May 2013, however, the number of ‘communal incident’ has surged to 667. See Appu Esthose Suresh, ‘Three-Fold Surge in ‘Communal Incidents’ in Bihar after BJP-JD (U) Parted Ways’, The Indian Express, 21 August  2015. (last accessed on 22 September 2015).

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Inclusion and exclusion of minorities  69 Chatterjee, Ipsita.2009. ‘Social Conflict and the Neoliberal City: A Case of Hindu-Muslim Violence in India’, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 34 (2): 143–60. Chenoy, Kamal Mitra; S. P. Shukla, K. S. Subramanian, and Achin Vanaik.2002. ‘Gujarat Carnage 2002: A Report to the Nation’, in John Dayal (ed.), Gujarat 2002: Untold and Re-told Stories of the Hindutva Lab, pp. 232–80. Delhi: Media House. Dahl, Robert Alan.1963. Preface to Democratic Theory. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Ganguly, Sumit.1997. The Crisis in Kashmir; Portents of War, Hopes of Peace. New York: Cambridge University Press. Hasan, Mushirul.1997. Legacy of a Divided Nation: India’s Muslims Since Independence. Delhi: Oxford University Press. Jaffrelot, Christophe.1996. The Hindu Nationalist Movement and Indian Politics 1925 to the 1990s: Strategy of Identity-Building, Implantation and Mobilization (with Special Reference to Central India). London: C. Hurst & Co. Publishers. Jaffrelot, Christophe.2008. ‘Gujarat: The Meaning of Modi’s Victory’, Economic and Political Weekly, April 12: 12–15. Jaffrelot, Christophe.2012. ‘Gujarat 2002: What Justice for the Victims? The Supreme Court, the SIT, the Police and the State Judiciary’, Economic and Political Weekly, February 25: 77–89. Jalal, Ayesha.1985. The Sole Spokesman: Jinnah, the Muslim League and the Demand for Pakistan. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Lijphart, Arend.1996. ‘The Puzzle of Indian Democracy: A Consociational Interpretation’, The American Political Science Review, 90 (2): 258–68. Manor, James.1990. ‘Parties and the Party System’, in Atul Kohli (ed.), India’s Democracy; An Analysis of Changing State-Society Relations, pp. 62–98. New Jersey: Princeton University Press. Nakamizo, Kazuya.2012. Indo Bouryoku to Minshushugi-Ittouyuuishihai no Houkai to Identity no Seiji (Trans, Violence and Democracy in India: The Collapse of One-Party Dominant Rule and Identity Politics). Tokyo: University of Tokyo Press. (in Japanese) Nasr, Vali.2005. ‘National Identities and the India-Pakistan Conflict’, in T. V. Paul (ed.), The India-Pakistan Conflict; An Enduring Rivalry, pp. 178–201. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Punwani, Jyoti.2014. ‘Myths and Prejudices About “Love Jihad” ’, Economic and Political Weekly, October 18: 12–15. Sachar, Rajindar.2007. High Level Committee Report on Social, Economic and Educational Status of the Muslim Community of India. Delhi: Akalank Publications. Sarkar, Sumit.1983. Modern India: 1885–1947. Madras: Macmillan India Press. Stepan, Alfred, Juan J. Linz, and Yogendra Yadav.2011. Crafting State-Nations: India and Other Multinational Democracies. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press. Varshney, Ashutosh and Steven Wilkinson.2006. Varshney-Wilkinson Dataset on HinduMuslim Violence in India, 1950–1995: Version 2. Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research 4342. Online: studies/04342/version/1 (last accessed on 21 March 2009). Wilkinson, Steven Ian.2000. ‘India, Consociational Theory, and the Ethnic Violence’, Asian Survey, 40 (5): 767–91. Yagnik, Achyut and Suchitra Sheth.2005. The Shaping of Modern Gujarat: Plurality, Hindutva and Beyond. New Delhi: Penguin Books India. Yagnik, Achyut and Suchitra Sheth.2011. Ahmedabad: From Royal City to Megacity. New Delhi: Penguin Books.

Part II

Religious identities and Dalits

4 Belonging and being Unpacking Dalit Christian identity Anderson H. M. Jeremiah

Dalit studies often elevate discussion around the ideological impact of the caste system and its sociological consequences and evade the mundane, ordinary flow of life in Dalit communities.1Most notably, the complex socio-religious landscape in which Dalits actually reside is glossed over in favour of broad categories unrelated to the actual lived realities. It is against this background that I will try to examine the Dalit Christian community in India, observing various processes and complex textures of their lives. Religion, as I understand it, is not just a narrow aspect of human life; rather, it permeates into the entire social fabric of community, and particularly in India, nothing is divorced from it habitually.2 Thus the focus of this chapter will be the social construction of the Dalit Christian identity and its complexity. Self-conceptualization and identity of both individuals and communities are context bound, demanding localized perception in order to be understood.3 Any examination of Dalit Christian identity inevitably becomes context specific. The conception of communal or personal identity arguably emerges as a collective (but not uniform) expression of localized cultural and traditional consciousness, which is variously disseminated and negotiated within a particular community. There are previous discussions on the Dalit identity that contributed to understanding the complexity of a rural Dalit community in India.4 However, this chapter, on the back of extensive fieldwork among various Dalit Christian communities in India, will try to move beyond existing discussions by developing a representational, nuanced understanding of identity markers that contribute to the formation of the Dalit Christian social identity.

4.1 Framing social identity Within the context of an essentialist caste understanding of Indian history, it is important to develop a non-essentialist perspective on the identity of Dalits. It can be approached by looking at the mundane everyday facts of life, belonging, locatedness and relational nature of identity formation. According to Richard Jenkins, identity is about the simple facts of people’s lives and how they distinguish themselves from others through the various activities that comprise the fundamentals of identity formation.5 Complementing such a view, Jeffrey Weeks

74  Anderson H. M. Jeremiah suggests, “Identity is about belonging”,6 which facilitates social relationships. In the light of Dalit Christian identity formation, the notion of belonging and locatedness is expressed in their mundane lives through routine transactions within the community. Similarity and difference are the two over-arching and dynamic principles of identity.7 When a person says something about others, she is often saying something about herself. Moreover, identity that stems from such principles cannot be neutral since the values behind them are often conflictual in nature. Furthermore, as Jeffrey Weeks observes, “By saying who we are, we are also striving to express what we are, what we believe and what we desire”.8 If we have to understand this thesis by its antithesis, by expressing who we are not and how we are different from the others and how they are different from us, we also implicitly strive to express who we are, what we believe and what we desire. Kathryn Woodward sheds additional light by observing that ‘difference’ defines identity as well as establishing distinction between one identity and another.9 She further puts forward the notion that ‘difference’ should not be understood as rigid binary oppositions of us and them but as deferred meaning which creates space for the fluidity of identity.10 Thus within the sphere of perceived dissimilarities, it becomes important to recognize the dynamic nature of identity formation. However, I would like to underline how differences are highlighted and furthered by the process of othering and creating otherness out of the other. Identities are constituted in relation to that otherness internal to the Dalit Christian meaningmaking system through articulating incommensurable difference. Alienation and objectification in relationship to the other in substance and essence provides the variance and similarity necessary for the conceptualization of self and communal identity. Often objectified as untouchables, through social conditioning and learning, a person from the Dalit Christian community gathers around the idea of not being a ‘non-Dalit or caste’ person (i. e. Brahmin, Nair, Lingayat, Bania or Reddyar), who is known to be higher than him by birth. This process generates respect for the ‘upper-caste’ person and self-pity for the Dalit. On the other hand, the same person learns through social observation that he should be happy not to be from any other ‘untouchable’ community (i. e. Izzuva, Arunthathier) that is perceived to be lower than him by birth and occupation. Social identity has to be understood as an outcome of combination of processes that underlines the complexity of identity as well as the tension between the individual and society, where the self cannot be considered as a given.11 Individual and communal identity is a product of its context and derives its meaning from it. Thus individual identity is a social construction and does not have significance in isolation from its social location since the subject or “the selfhood is thoroughly socially constructed”.12 Such constructive processes create ‘new negotiated space’ of contested and negotiated individual identities through subversion and transgression,13 which Homi Bhabha calls it as ‘interpellative practices’.14This theoretical position is supported by many Indian social theorists who believe that individuals construct their identities as members of a particular community.15 The fluid and dynamic nature of individual identity is possible because an individual’s identity

Belonging and being  75 is acquired and relates to a specific community. Hence there is no ‘one’ identity but several reference points provided by the community, which are dynamic in nature since a person is in multiple relationships and roles. Furthermore, it is the community that provides the individual with his or her referential base, which therefore needs to be understood as much as, if not more than, the terms of its meaning and content rather than its forms and structure.16 Through his studies on peripheral communities, Anthony Cohen argues, “Community exists in the mind of its members” and not just in geographical space.17 In this light, community expresses a relational idea and provides the individual with a sense of belonging and meaning for existence, which would not be otherwise available.18 It is the social relationships and networks through which an individual experiences his community that provides his social identity. To summarize, an individual identity is dynamically constructed as different from the other, providing the power to make one experience one’s self as the other within a community. This process is crucial to understand Dalit identity, which is socially constructed and prescribed by caste ideology and internalized by Dalits to fulfil their roles in the community. The similarities and differences, contrasts and negations of/with the other and the subject’s relation to his locatedness and multi-layered consciousness are some of the most prevalent modes of constituting an individual identity within a community. Using the preceding discussion on social identity, I would like to examine some observations of how Dalit Christians perceive themselves and construct their identity in a socio-culturally marginalized situation, assuming that the reader understands the complex caste-ridden Indian social existence. At this juncture, it is also important to recognize the contextual differences and ideological trappings of the contemporary identity discourses in social-anthropology discussed earlier.

4.2 Social commensality Observing the significance and interplay of communal and individual identity within the Dalit social worldview will yield valuable insights into self-identification. In this section, two aspects will be explored: firstly, the contribution of kinship relationships to identity formation and secondly, how a practice such as excommunication functions to maintain communal identity. It is clear that an individual by her or himself does not have an identity in isolation, and this is naturally also true for the members of the Dalit community. In rural communities, individuals are known as somebody’s daughter, son, wife, husband, brother, sister, uncle and aunt, and by more complex patrilineal and matrilineal relationships. For instance, in Tamil Nadu, the following designations are used: Mama (maternal uncle), Periyappa (father’s elder brother), Chithappa (father’s younger brother), Athai (father’s sister), Chithhi (mother’s younger sister), Mami (maternal uncle’s wife), Anni (elder brother’s wife), Thatha (grandfather) and Patti (grandmother). The prevalence of such recognized relatedness underpins the perception of an individual as the bearer of a particular familial lineage. It is this consciousness of belonging to somebody that facilitates individual

76  Anderson H. M. Jeremiah and communal identity – all being interwoven. This process gets reinforced time and again through the verbal interaction of individuals. While attempting to get the attention of someone in the street or in a public place, people call a person as the daughter or son of someone, mentioning their father’s or mother’s name. The individual is never just a sole individual. This becomes important to understand such a process through which an individual conceives and understands himself/ herself as somebody’s son, daughter, grandson, granddaughter, brother, sister, niece, nephew, wife, husband, uncle and or aunt. Individual identity is always formulated in relation to others within the community through which the collective is realized and upheld. Continuances of familial links through paternal and maternal relationships are also products of this process, as Dalits emphasize the continuation of kinship ties through inter-marriage within the community, further strengthening communal relationships.19 Significantly, earlier research on Dalit communities does not relate this naming process to the contribution of self-understanding, which stems from the group and only finally reaches the individual. When asked to describe themselves, most individuals explain their position in the community through parents and relatives, eventually arriving at themselves. Often there will be very little left to explain about themselves after they have narrated their family trees and located themselves on one branch or another. This process, known in the parent-child aspect as teknonymy,20 facilitates dynamic and multiple identity matrixes within a community. It is also important to note that such a matrix provides various reference points from which each individual can function and evolve within a given community, thus eluding the concept of a fixed identity. Clearly, in an endogamous community, multiple links are inevitable; here they are mentally mapped and used. Similarly, food plays a vital role in the communal lives of Dalits. The common everyday greeting is Saptiya? (Did you eat or have food?) This is used to determine the well-being of a person. Much of the Dalit social activities and festivities seem be centred on food, and most relationships are based on the sharing of food. During my field research, I  learnt that when someone from the village brought food for me to eat, accepting or refusing would clearly designate the status of the relationship between the giver and receiver. When an individual is invited to dine with the family, it clearly demonstrates the acceptance within the community. In this caste-aware context, food becomes a means to determine the nature of a person, his status in the community and the relationship one shares with him. Among the Dalit Christians, the most keenly awaited times are the annual Christmas and Easter festivals when the whole community slaughters a bull or cow, makes a meal and shares this with each other (including the Hindus). This pattern of celebration draws its strength from the essential concepts of sharing, participation and solidarity among the community with commensality as the focus of that gathering in which Sami (God) is experienced. An important religious dimension in the sharing of food among Dalits is that when a person offers food to another, he or she is offering the meal to God, and the person receives it as if God is giving it herself. In order to sustain such a collective communal identity, excommunication is effectively used as a disciplining and teaching tool. Excommunication is the

Belonging and being 77 process by which all forms of communication and relationship are severed, leaving the individual or even families on their own to deal with their issues. In some cases, they are even physically removed and sent away from the village and prohibited from all communal activities and festivities. In extreme instances, the excommunicated cannot even make use of basic village amenities, such as the water well or the grocery shop. Other members of the community will not talk or even smile at them if they walk by, effectively removing or severing communal links and thus the identity of the individual. Within the Christian community, excommunication additionally means the forbidding of participating in church activities and special occasions. The excommunicated family/person will be ignored, and the priest will be discouraged from visiting them or allowing them to participate in the Eucharist, lest he face the resentment of the community. Anybody who entertains the excommunicated individual or family will first be reprimanded and then given a stern warning of dire consequences if such an action is repeated. This form of communal organization, with clear rules and regulations, ensures that every member of the community subscribes and adheres to the collective, sometimes sacrificing their individual interests. It is my contention that these factors of kinship and commensal relationships, and excommunication, act as symbolic tools of the community, which contributes considerably to the formulation of collective consciousness from which the individual shares and draws his/her identity.

4.3 Self-perception in opposition Let us consider the following point: Many high-caste Hindus have certain ideas in mind about people belonging to the lower orders: ideas that they are dirty, lazy, quarrelsome, not reliable, that the women enjoy much more freedom than rural high-caste women and, above all, that ‘they (the women) have no morals and therefore deserve to be raped’.21 This key observation by Pillai-Vetschera while studying the Mahar women in Maharastra captures the general perception of Dalit communities. It is in such a context of understanding the conceptualization of an individual’s identity within the situatedness of a particular community that is the focus of this chapter. Such a process happens simultaneously at various levels, eventually contributing to one’s own self-perception. Even as Pillai-Vetschera found in her own fieldwork among the Mahar in Maharastra, such general perceptions about the Dalits are often contrary to the reality of the community. During my fieldwork amongst various Dalit communities, I also observed the dynamics of community formation through differentiation (us and them), the impact of spatial relations on subjective conceptualization and the physical and mental framework within which these processes take place. Within this analysis, different issues pertaining to pollution,22 chastity, bravery and morality and their contribution to the ‘self’ understanding

78  Anderson H. M. Jeremiah of Dalit Christians will be expounded in the light of the foregoing discussion on social production of identity. Comments such as “we are not as dirty as they are”, “they are cowards”, “they are not as sutham (chaste) as we are”, “they always do wrong and illegal things” and “we always beat them up’ made by Dalit community members referring to non-Dalit local high-caste communities captures the process of knowing oneself in opposition or through difference. Very often, Dalits distance themselves from the accepted and popular perceptions of themselves by actually projecting the prejudices onto ‘others’, the non-Dalit caste communities. By comparing and contrasting themselves to local non-Dalit communities, Dalits present themselves as far better in terms of cleanliness, strength and bravery and social virtuosity, thus completely reversing the accepted social norm and prejudice. It also points to the notion of how Dalits have become victims due to the cunning and manipulative nature of the non-Dalit communities rather than through physical weakness on their part. This self-image of the Dalits being physically stronger than the non-Dalits who hide behind caste rights is important for understanding the Dalit identity and negates the caste ideology which portrays them as weak and vulnerable.23It has been reiterated time and again that Dalits are neither inherently violent nor aggressive, but they are also not ‘pushovers’ and are able to retaliate and teach the perpetrators of caste discrimination a lesson as and when required. It is in this regard that one needs to keep in mind that the Dalits, as suggested by Vincentnathan24 and Deliège,25 do not subscribe to the dominant understanding of their lower status due to their ritual pollution (internal) and social exploitation (external). Further, by re-projecting these socially imposed discriminations of purity and pollution onto the non-Dalit caste community, the Dalit community have reinterpreted their identity, and in the process, they discredit the high-caste community as well as develop far more complicated and nuanced non-subordinate identities for themselves.

4.4 Mapping social hierarchy In rural communities, spatial representation or geographical locatedness has a direct impact on an individual’s conception of self-identity. In other words, the physical location, whether one lives in the Cherie or Colony (the untouchable settlement) or in the Oor (the high-caste village), determines who that person is and what his or her status is in the village.26 Even within the Cherie, if a person’s house is situated on a particular side of the main street, it is clear as to whether that household is Christian or Hindu; if the house happens to be near the church building or the Hindu temple, it has its own understood status within that groups’ ranking system. Oor and Cherie The demarcations existing within the village define the nature and status of its inhabitants. Different settlements for all of the different caste and outcaste

Belonging and being 79 communities are situated well away from each other, avoiding physical interaction between individuals and possible cross-pollution. Each caste group is obliged to respect its prescribed boundaries and to abide by the rules laid down by nonDalit local high-caste communities, who are often the landlords. The very idea of the Cherie represents the physical alienation, exclusion and isolation of the untouchable communities from the hub of village life. The location of the Cherie and its dependence on the Oor (village) contributes to their self-understanding. “As long as you live in the Cherie, you should know your place in the village”, a comment made by a non-Dalit to a Dalit member of the Cherie clearly explains this fact; the Dalits are forced to keep to their spatial and moral place. From the location of a person’s household within the village boundary, one can identify his or her caste affiliation and place within the village hierarchy. Any move to challenge or alter this aspect by the Dalits or other ‘low’ caste communities would be met with violent reactions. The geographical locatedness of homes contributes to the way in which a person conceives his own identity in relation to the others in the same village and to the outside world. To interpret the comment further, a person knows about his or her selfhood on the basis of physical locatedness, which in turn informs his or her expected functions and place within the village community – a vicious circle of inequality under thatched roofs and on mud floors. This pattern of social reproduction and learning is undoubtedly crucial to Dalit identity formation. When a child grows up in the Cherie, he is taught and learns the prevailing norms of the village community and incorporates them within the process of knowing who he is and how he is to live within the caste-perpetuated social norms. In other words, Dalits are bound to their place within the village and cannot escape, and, moreover, most do not have the option to do so.

4.5 Social hierarchy on the ground Understanding the internal dynamics pertaining to location within the Dalit community yields interesting insights into the way in which an individual conceives of himself. In one of the Dalit Cherie’s in Tamil Nadu, the central and most prominent place is occupied by the huge concrete church building, with its tall bell tower visible from far away. The church is considered to be a sacred and holy place, and a Christian priest as a representative of God and by virtue of being associated with this ‘holy’ place, occupies the highest position in the Christian hierarchy. In the Dalit Christian community, one common perception is that the closer one lives to the church building, the ‘holier’ one is. Two prominent families in the Dalit Christian community, the church elder and the church secretary, are interesting examples of this facet.27 Their houses are located nearest to the church building and apart from key figures in the church; the church elder’s family holds the ‘key’ to the church (both literally and figuratively). He was given this job, more than just a symbolic task, of acting as the gatekeeper in the absence of the catechist, who used to live in the house next to the church until he moved to the nearby city. During many conversations, he pointed out that those living a little farther away from the church, even if only by a degree, are not “good people;

80  Anderson H. M. Jeremiah they pick fights all the time and the men and women drink most of the time. So in a way it is good that they are living far away from the church”. In other words, he implied that those people who live farther away from the church were ‘sinful, weak and socially insignificant’ within the Dalit Christian community, which reflects the perception of Dalits by the non-Dalits. It should also be mentioned that those living at a distance from the church hardly have any role to play in church or Christian community life and are often considered to be the troublemakers and sources of conflict. One can notice the subtle replication of hierarchy taking place in this situation. It is interesting to note that the same view was held by the Dalit Christian people themselves, as they prefer to live farther from the church because they consider themselves to be ‘not good enough’ or unworthy to live closer to the sacred space. As one person mentioned, “It is better to stay away from all those ‘holy people’ then getting blamed for everything”. This phenomenon needs to be understood on two levels. Firstly, the consequence of associating the area immediately around the church and those who occupy it as holy and powerful, proximity to which symbolizes power and superiority. Secondly, due to the church’s location, it comes to represent the core of the Cherie, thereby creating a centre and a periphery, as well as paving the way for an internal hierarchy within those real and imagined structures. Additionally, there is a clear demarcation between the Christian and Hindu Dalit houses, located on opposite sides of the same road, clearly marking a division among the communities on the lines of religious affiliation – a division that is seldom reflected in their familial relationships, where inter-marriages are still common. Another important observation is that none of the ‘non-core’ or less important Christian households were located adjacent to the church building: all of them being at some distance on the opposite side. There was a general consensus among the Dalit Christian community that they should keep a healthy distance from the church building – a belief that could be due to their past experience of religious marginalization and relegation, or it could be argued that it gives them freedom to act in ways (drinking alcohol/doing local rituals) to which the priest or the church elder might object. An individual’s proximity to the ‘sacred’ space of the church is paralleled by his taking the ‘moral high ground’, seeing those who live farther away from the church as ‘sinful and unholy’. This perception is accepted and becomes increasingly internalized with age. Notably, the same hierarchy is reproduced when members from the Dalit Christian community come into the church building for worship. Excluding the children and the youth, the men and women have specific places inside the church and occupy seats according to the hierarchy and gender. Those with a higher status get to sit in the front row of chairs, while those of a lower status sit on the back bench or on the floor. The women do not even get to sit in chairs and are expected to sit on mats on the floor. Holiness (and comfort) through proximity to the sacred is thus a male prerogative, which does not include women. It can be concluded that geographical locatedness within the village, proximity to the church’s ‘sacred’ space and the assigned place during worship

Belonging and being 81 significantly contributes to and defines individual and communal identity amongst the Dalit Christians. This social organization clearly feeds into and demonstrates a hierarchical order, and it provides a framework for the people to relate to one another, consciously aware of their status and position in the community.

4.6 Imposed and absorbed behaviour Two crucial human feelings of fear and shame are used extensively by the dominant caste groups to subvert and subjugate the formation of communal and individual identity. They have become psycho-social tools of the oppressive system to perpetuate hierarchical systems within the realms of religion, society, economics and gender relations, further marginalizing individuals and communities, particularly within outcaste communities. This manifests itself both externally and internally in rural Dalit Christian communities. These emotional ties find root in the traditional Hindu understanding of purity and pollution, which has a direct impact on the psycho-social world of Dalits, as elsewhere in south Indian society. Pertaining to their own status as untouchables and outcastes, Dalits in the village are bound by purity and pollution notions constantly reinforced in their daily lives. Due to centuries of adherence to the caste norms of religious pollution expressed in social life, Dalits continue to abide by them, despite changes in their social demographics. As mentioned earlier, fear and shame are crucial psychological elements used to regulate purity and pollution processes, as well as physical violence and sexual abuses. Dalits continue to live under the constant threat of being attacked and violated in their own Cherie. Men and women in the Dalit community are routinely physically attacked and verbally abused in the Cherie, and sometimes even inside their houses for non-payment of their debt or failing to turn up for work. Dalits live in constant fear of ‘them’ (caste communities) and are often ashamed to face the rest of the people in the colony because of the insults hurled at them. The recent killings and atrocities against Dalit women in many parts of India exemplifies this situation. Furthermore, these psycho-sociological effects give rise to a sense of worthlessness in the subjective understanding of the Dalits. The place of the Dalit community within a village is defined by their religious ‘impurity and bastardry’, since they are ‘outcastes and untouchables’.28 Until recently in many parts of the country, Hindu and Christian Dalits were not even allowed into Hindu temples and were denied participation in religious festivities. They were forced to stand far off and could only be spectators and not active participants. Even now the ‘deity visitation’ (the procession of Hindu idols from the temple through the village) does not enter the Dalit settlement. The notion of religious uncleanness is systematically reinforced by such rigid exclusion from the village life. Although Dalit Christians are not directly affected, they still share in the religiously impure nature of Dalits. Interestingly, the Dalit Christians bring similar concepts of purity into their Christian practices. The church building is associated as the ‘holy sacred place’, and many Dalits prefer to stand outside of the church when they feel unclean, or if

82  Anderson H. M. Jeremiah they were drunk the previous day. Similarly, menstruating women, or those who have just given birth, are not encouraged to come into the church building. This idea of staying away from the ‘sacred’ due to impurity in this case can clearly be traced back to their local Hindu religious practices. Feeling impure and worthless in the religious realm impacts and reflects on the Dalit life and creates a sense of fear of the ‘sacred and dominant’ and shame in front of others. These aspects contribute to the internalizing of imposed categories of worthlessness, which negatively impacts their self-identity.

4.7 Stereotyping and name calling Name calling is a common feature in human societies and assumes additional importance within structurally organized societies. Pierre Bourdieu explains that attributed names come to represent structural hierarchy and control, access to social existence and social identity, which is reinforced every time they are mentioned.29 This process paves the way for the formation of stereotypes, and in the words of Richard Jenkins, “stereotypes are extremely condensed symbols of collective identification”.30 Exploring some of the social interactions in one of the villages in Tamil Nadu, I observed that the non-Dalit communities used insulting names for the Dalits in order to assert their dominance. They are frequently called Sombayri (lazy bums), Paranai (untouchable dogs), Mollamari (unscrupulous fellows) and Thiruda (thieves). Women are given particular degrading treatment, being called frequently Thevdiya (prostitutes and bastards). Apart from the last example, most of the other names are casually used, and it was curious to observe that many Dalits from the older generation respond without protest. It might seem that they do not actually carry any deep-seated hatred or aversion to such name calling that stems from stereotypes about the Dalit community fostered by the non-Dalits. True to the earlier observation by Pillai-Vetschera, in general, the dominant caste group portrays the Dalits as lazy, quarrelsome dogs who eat filth and steal anything possible.31 Calling a woman a ‘prostitute’ remains one of the worst forms of humiliation in village society and is employed to inflict psychological pain upon the woman in question, her family and the Dalit community in general. As detailed earlier, Dalit women were often suspected to be ‘loose’, promiscuous and questionable in character. Due to their upright body posture, carefree attitude and ‘big mouths’, Dalit women are often stereotyped as immoral and unfaithful to their husbands. This view helps the non-Dalits when they sexually assault, abuse and harass Dalit women as a means to justify their acts of violence, claiming that the women were already promiscuous. This is one form of non-Dalit power which is not publicly paraded or discussed, but remains a private matter of humiliation. It is not only non-Dalit men who do this, as Dalit men also exploit and rape Dalit women. This name calling results in real physical abuse of Dalit women – an abuse that unfortunately validates and perpetuates further name calling. To gain a nuanced understanding of name calling, it is important to recognize the fact it becomes the means through which stereotypes are reinforced and

Belonging and being 83 perpetuated by the dominant communities. What happens during this process is that these terms are internalized and accepted by the Dalits (at least by the older generation) as legitimate so that they do not even protest about such pejorative labelling. By instilling a false notion of inferiority and helplessness in the Dalits, they are left with nothing but apathy and self-pity for themselves. As Bourdieu observes, by reinforcing these names, the dominant community perpetuates an oppressive system as well as an exploitative worldview in which Dalits become subservient and apathetic. Another example is the common refrain that ‘Dalits are all alcoholics and drunkards’.

4.8 Differentiating and belonging In Dalit Christian communities’, conversion to Christianity, which began nearly a century ago, has facilitated a process of reconstituting and reclaiming a new identity. In the South Indian Dalit context, the process of conversion to Christianity was often perceived as a rejection or negation of one’s cultural and religious heritage in favour of a ‘new’ and arguably ‘foreign’ religious identity. This resulted in deep cultural implications, as individuals and communities do not erase their past but accommodate their new identities with the historically grounded present. However, the important interplay between different socio-religious systems and their impact on individuals and communities are frequently underestimated. Judicious observation of the Dalit Christian communities and their meaning-making systems sheds light on such processes of multi-layered consciousness. (a)  Forging new identity A common response from Dalit Christian communities when asked about their past was that they had little knowledge of their past. On one level, this is a perfectly common response, given those social discriminatory practices, including the religious, knowledge of the past is legitimized precisely by being ‘eternalized’ in light of the present. Yet there are other or additional ways of seeing this. In the view of Frantz Fanon, a postcolonial theorist who observed colonization’s distorting and disfiguring effect on the colonized people’s consciousness,32 it could be stated that Christianity was a colonial process that flourished through supplanting existing religious practices in its mission fields. In many situations, questions concerning Dalit cultural and religious heritage were often met with hesitation or simply evaded. Even though this was often frustrating, persistent efforts suggested that this dilly-dallying can be understood as an effective mechanism to avoid answering questions regarding their past and thereby avoiding shaming themselves before others as well as avoiding being ‘defined’. “I don’t know what happened then” was the usual reply given by Dalits to any questions about their history. After meandering through various topics, they would come back to the issue of their life before becoming Christians, but change topics quickly. The general response was, “our grandparents lived similar lives to us, working tirelessly for the upper caste and making them wealthier”. The focus here is not on the

84  Anderson H. M. Jeremiah details of history itself, but their hesitation, indeed refusal, to narrate it. During a conversation with one of the oldest members of the Dalit community, I quickly realized to what extent he had internalized the Christian story as his own story. His answer to my questions regarding how long caste oppression had gone on was interesting and reminded me of other Dalit origin myths. He replied, “From the time of Adam and Eve we are like this!” Two important points need to be underlined here: firstly, by adding Christianity to their origin myth, their history has been given a new meaning and direction. Secondly, by returning to their past, Dalit Christians may be utilizing the Christian element to avoid dwelling on what is remembered as too dreadful to discuss. Further, being a Christian, as understood by Dalit Christians, is also associated with being modern, wearing ‘foreign’ clothes, carrying electronic gadgets and smoking cigarettes rather than beedies (locally rolled tobacco leaves). This change in self-identification, associating themselves with modern external standards, has drastically altered their self-perception. To comprehend this process, one has to take into account the way Christianity was originally presented by the missionaries as an alternative for Dalits to their existing oppressed lifestyle. This declaration of Christianity as something ‘new’ and liberating continues to hold resonance with the local church. “All of you should be different from them, the upper caste and the Hindus” were statements by both the catechist and the priest in their sermons, emphasizing the importance of Dalits being ‘different’ from ‘them’. This call for difference and separation from non-Christians should not be reduced to a merely theological undertaking. Dalit Christian identity means vastly more than abstract theological and doctrinal self-conceptualization, and is rather embedded in practical and observable differences from the dominant Hindu religious tradition and its social system. (b)  Multi-layered belonging For Dalits, there are no rigid and strict boundaries defining and restricting their spirituality, nor does their Christianity negate observing other religious traditions. Rather, as I’ve argued elsewhere, they have multi-layered spiritual reference points. Many Dalit Christian individuals in Tamil Nadu feel no guilt over attending the Hindu festival of Madu viduthal, a bull race festival devoted to Lord Murugan and a Koil thiruvizha (temple festival) in honour of the goddess Kaliamma after taking part in the church communion service. While they may be shifting from a ‘Christian’ spiritual setting to a ‘non-Christian Hindu’ spiritual location and ritual practice, there was no internal spiritual conflict for them as there might be for onlookers or observers. Moreover, he may participate in both religious arenas with no internal conflict. It is important to recognize that this is not an isolated incident but something that prevails in the whole Dalit Christian community. Spirituality is locally based, and Christianity is part of it and is in no way exclusivistic. Even though religious affiliation is an important aspect, one is not confined in terms of strict adherence to one specific religion. In the village context, there are many occasions and gatherings that are performed within

Belonging and being  85 a particular religio-spiritual arena, yet people participate irrespective of their own religious affiliation. Involvement in events rooted in Hinduism means participating in the fullness of village life and does not necessarily affirm the validity of Hinduism, or negate their Christian identity. Even though the group performing the ritual may have a specific religious belief, the participating individuals do not need to believe and subscribe to the same system of belief, but rather partake in the event out of communal obligation and celebration. Communal village action takes precedence over rather irrelevant religious divides. The prevalence of such attitudes among the Dalit Christian community underlines the coexistence of different religious spheres – spheres that are not necessarily seen as conflicting within individuals or the community. The aforementioned lived reality highlights the interface between Christians and Hindus, and the prevalence of coexisting multiple religious reference points from which people operate in their daily lives. In such a context, belonging to specific castes, religious and village communities functions as different identity forming locations. Members within the Christian Dalit community pick and choose their points of belonging and operate from different positions without necessarily having any internal conflict.

4.9 Conclusion The preceding observation of the Dalit Christian community illustrated the dynamic and discursive nature of self-conceptualization and identification in the community. In conjuncture with the contemporary discourse on identity, several aspects that define and redefine local identity and community were highlighted. It also provides an understanding of the dialectic and strategic nature of identity formation not assuming that structure creates an identity.33 One significant aspect of this process shows that discourses on identity cannot be essentialized, but rather understood in their dynamic, contextual reality. Nevertheless, it is important to grasp the polyvalence of cognitive conceptualizations of the self, which may not be always explicable in fixed terms. The differentiation of us and themis by no means a strict mark of categories, but possible or pragmatic points of view, understood within a given communal matrix and liable to switching. These aspects are further intricately knotted within the religious and cultural consciousness firmly tied to the realities of location. Individuals and communities operate and shape their world primarily by belonging to a system, which is often directed by dominant notions, yet internalized and potentially also subverted. To a great extent, lived realities determine the nature of self-conceptualization, which in turn informs and contributes to the way individuals and communities relate with one another. Aspects discussed earlier offer some of the possible ways through which individuals and communities come to understand and represent themselves within their lived contexts. It also shows that the Dalits, irrespective of their religious affiliation, share a collective worldview within the village community through a multi-layered belonging. There were enough indicators to explain that the process of being a Christian in a caste-dominated village has contributed to and complicated the formation of

86  Anderson H. M. Jeremiah self-identity. Belonging becomes the foundation of being. It is also important to recognize the fact that none of these processes function in a vacuum or isolation, but constantly interface and interpellate with each other, thus contributing to the construction of social identity.

Notes 1 The term ‘Dalit’ itself is not a designation for a caste but an overarching and mobilizing term to represent more than 450 ‘ex-untouchable’ communities in India. For more discussion on Dalit identity, see S. M. Michael, “Dalit Encounter with Christianity: Change and Continuity”, in Rowena Robinson and Joseph M Kujur, eds. Margins of Faith: Dalits and Tribal Christianity in India, New Delhi: SAGE Publications, 2010, p52, C. Joe Arun, Constructing Dalit Identity, New Delhi: Rawat Publications, 2006, C. Still, Dalit Women: Honour and Patriarchy in South India. New Delhi: Social Science Press, 2014. 2 Timothy Jenkins, Religion in English Everyday Life: An Ethnographic Approach, Oxford: Berghahn Books, 1999, p36 3 Linda Martín Alcoff, Visible Identities, Race, Gender, and the Self, New York: Oxford University Press, 2006, p9 4 Robert Deliege, The World of the “Untouchables”: Dalits of Tamil Nadu, Oxford: Berg, 1999; Sathianathan Clarke, Dalits and Christianity, Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1998; and Lynn Vincentnathan, “Untouchable Concepts of Person and Society” in Contributions to Indian Sociology, Vol.27, No.1, 1993, pp. 53–82. 5 Richard Jenkins, Social Identity, London: Routledge, 1996, p119 6 Jeffrey Weeks, “The Value of Difference”, in Jonathan Rutherford, ed. Identity: Community, Culture and Difference, London: Lawrence & Wishart, 1990, p88 7 Richard Jenkins, Social Identity, p80 8 Jeffrey Weeks, “The Value of Difference”, in Jonathan Rutherford, ed. Identity: Community, Culture and Difference, p89 9 Kathryn Woodward, ed. Identity and Difference, London: SAGE Publications, 1997, p2&30 10 Kathryn Woodward, ed. Identity and Difference, p21 11 Paul Gilroy, “Diaspora and the Detours of Identity”, in Kathryn Woodward, ed. Identity and Difference, p314 12 Richard Jenkins, Social Identity, p20 13 Homi K. Bhabha, “The Third Space”, in Jonathan Rutherford, ed. Identity: Community, Culture and Difference, p216; see also Homi K. Bhabha, Location of Culture, London: Routledge, 1994, pp. 84–5 14 Homi Bhabha, “The Third Space”, in Jonathan Rutherford, ed. Identity: Community, Culture and Difference, p210; see also Homi K Bhabha, Location of Culture, pp. 22–3 15 Surinder S. Jodhka, “Introduction”, in Surinder S. Jodhka, ed. Community and Identities, New Delhi: SAGE Publications, 2001, pp. 9–29 16 Anthony P. Cohen, The Symbolic Construction of Community, Routledge: London, 1993, p74; see also for broader discussionon ‘community’ by Marjorie Mayo, Cultures, Communities, Identities, New York: Palgrave, 2000 17 Anthony P. Cohen, The Symbolic Construction of Community, p97 and Richard Jenkins, Social Identity, p107 18 Anthony P. Cohen, The Symbolic Construction of Community, p12 19 Robert Deliege, The World of the “Untouchables”: Dalits of Tamil Nadu, p177ff 20 Aram A. Yengoyan, “Clifford Geertz, Cultural Portraits, and Southeast Asia” in The Journal of Asian Studies, Vol.68, No.4, November, 2009, p1222

Belonging and being 87 21 Traude Pillai – Vetschera, “Ambedkar’s Daughters: A Study of Mahar Women in Ahmednagar District of Maharastra”, in S. M. Michael, ed. Dalits in Modern India, New Delhi: Vistaar Publications, 2007, p231 22 In the caste system, relationship based on purity-pollution is one of the important signifiers of various caste groups. 23 It is worth noting that even Dalit ‘theologians’ portray the Dalit Christians as weak and vulnerable people – a stereotype that Paraiyar Christians are trying to shed in Thulasigramam. 24 Lynn Vincentnathan, “Untouchable Concepts of Person and Society”, pp. 7–9 25 Robert Deliège, “Replication and Consensus: Untouchability, Caste and Ideology in India”, Man 1992, 27 (1), p167 26 Hugo Gorringe, Untouchable Citizens, New Delhi: SAGE Publications, 2005, p170ff. Gorringe discusses in detail the centrality of physical space in the Dalit Identity construction. My observations for this chapter come from South India. 27 It is interesting to note the rank ordering around sacred sites as highlighted by Yel, which I think reflects in the social ordering in rural communities as well. Ali Murat Yel, “Appropriation of Sacredness at Fatima in Portugal”, in Elisabeth Arweck and William Keenan, eds. Materializing Religion: Expression, Performance and Ritual, Aldershot: Ashgate, 2006, pp. 21–35. 28 S. M. Michael, “Introduction”, in S. M. Michael, ed. Dalits in Modern India, New Delhi: Vistaar Publications, 1999, p12. In this book, he traces the socio-cultural and political history of Dalits while explaining the origin of caste through Varna system and untouchability. See also Shriram, “The Fourfold Hierarchy”, in S. M. Michael, ed. Dalits in Modern India, p50 29 Pierre Bourdieu, “The Biographical Illusion”, in Paul du Gay, ed. Identity: A Reader, London: SAGE Publications, 2000, p300 30 Richard Jenkins, Social Identity, p123 31 Traude Pillai – Vetschera, “Ambedkar’s Daughters: A Study of Mahar Women in Ahmednagar district of Maharastra”, in S. M. Michael, ed. Dalits in Modern India, p231 32 Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth, London: Paladin, 1963, p170; see also Homi K. Bhabha, Location of Culture, London: Routledge, 1994, pp. 4–5 33 Mattison Mines, “Heterodox Lives: Agonistic Individuality and Agency in South Indian History”, in Ramchandra Guha, ed. Institutions and Inequalities, New Delhi: Oxford Press, 1999, pp. 9–31

5 Excluding themselves? Dalits converting to Buddhism Kenta Funahashi

5.1 Introduction It is often said that the ‘caste system’ is closely linked to Indian society and the lifeworld of Indians. Dalits (also known as ‘untouchables’) have always been politically, economically, socially, culturally and religiously excluded from mainstream society in India because the caste system has always placed them on the bottom rung of society. In other words, they have been treated as ‘the outsiders within’ Hindu society. Because of these conditions, there have been many struggles over the years, beginning with those led by Dr. B. R. Ambedkar (1891–1956), to ensure that Dalits have politico-economic rights, social security and cultural and religious autonomy. Consequently, the political, economic and social conditions of Dalits have gradually been improving; for example, untouchability has been abolished, and the reservation system has been established. However, it is ironic that the Dalits’ struggles to express and assert themselves are also making them essentialized and are excluding them from mainstream society through being labelled a ‘minority’. In this chapter, I shall discuss one of these struggles, or rather movements, which has centred on conversion to Buddhism. Since Ambedkar’s great conversion in 1956, numerous Dalits have converted to Buddhism in order to liberate themselves from the ‘unequal Hindu society’ and have joined the more ‘equal Buddhist society’. This tendency has been gradually increasing, especially since the 1990s. In this chapter, I will focus on one group of these ‘converted Buddhists’, the Buddhist-Dalits (Chamars or Jatavs by ‘caste’) living in contemporary Western Uttar Pradesh. The Buddhist-Dalits in Uttar Pradesh are a small minority and most of their kins and affines are Hindus. This situation is worth bearing in mind, especially when it is compared to the situation in Maharashtra. On the one hand, the Buddhist-Dalits in Uttar Pradesh claim that their ancestors were Buddhists; and on the other hand, they also believe in Ravidas, a mediaeval Chamar sant (saint-poet) of the Bhakti movement. Both Buddha and Ravidas were egalitarians, and the concept of ‘equality’ is very attractive to Dalits. In practice, the BuddhistDalits selectively observe some Hindu religious rituals in order to maintain their relationships with their relatives and friends. Ravidas, therefore, functions as the

Excluding themselves? 89 connecting figure, linking the Buddhist-Dalits with the Hindu-Dalits. In terms of ideology, the Buddhist-Dalits assert the negation of ‘caste’ and replace it with the concept of ‘equality’, and they want to base their relationships on this concept. Relationships founded on equality can provide an alternative within Hindu society and open new spheres of relations for Dalits. In previous studies, scholars have investigated whether and to what extent Buddhist-Dalits can distance themselves from Hindu beliefs and practices – that is, how far Buddhist-Dalits have rejected the doctrines of Hinduism and therefore excluded themselves from Hindu society. This perspective is based on the idea of ‘discontinuity’ and regards religion as an exclusive concept. However, this is an essentially modern and Western notion, as it is not at all unusual for people to follow religious practices that derive from more than one religion at the same time. A society where this occurs as a norm may be referred to as ‘poly-religious’ – people syncretistically observe rites belonging to more than one religion. By analysing their religio-ritual practices and their narratives, I will consider how the Buddhist-Dalits in Uttar Pradesh both live within and negotiate with Hindu society and ‘caste’, and how they live and negotiate with their relatives and friends in particular. In other words, how do Buddhist-Dalits live on the boundary between inclusion and exclusion?

5.2 Background and theoretical issues Here I will explain some terms that are used in this chapter. Firstly, ‘BuddhistDalits’ are ‘ex-untouchables’ and are converts from Hinduism. In Western Uttar Pradesh, they mostly originate from the Jatav or Chamar communities. They have often been referred to as ‘Neo-Buddhists’, although this is not a name that they have given themselves.1 Chamar, another key term in this chapter, is a large Dalit community in North India. The Chamars have traditionally worked as tanners, leather workers, shoemakers, village servants, tenants and so on (Briggs 1999; Cohn 2004; Khare 1984; Singh 2002). In my research field, they mostly work as factory workers, agricultural labourers and daily wage labourers. I will now introduce two main contributors to the process of conversion to Buddhism in Western Uttar Pradesh. One is the well-known figure of Ambedkar.2 He was, and still is, considered a prominent leader of the Dalits. Ambedkar renounced Hinduism in 1935 and embraced Buddhism on 14 October 1956. As he passed away two months later, on 6 December 1956, he was unable to establish a firm basis for Buddhism in Indian society and popularize the religion among Dalits. Since then, many Dalit people have been trying to practise Ambedkar’s ideas on Buddhism through a process of trial and error. The other important contributor is the Buddhist Society of India. This organization was founded by Dr. Ambedkar himself in 1955 and has a strong claim to legitimacy. The purpose of the society is to spread Buddhism and conduct Buddhist rituals. This means that they only conduct ‘religious’ activities. The society has been leading a Buddhist movement in Western Uttar Pradesh, and some

90  Kenta Funahashi leaders of the society have been active in spreading Buddhism in towns and villages in this region. I will now discuss how this chapter relates theoretically to previous studies. It involves two main research topics: Dalit studies and Buddhist-Dalit studies. With respect to Dalit studies, most recent studies have focused on the identity of the Dalits. They discuss the self-reflection, re-interpretation and assertion of the Dalit identity (Khare 1984; Deliège 1993; Dube 2001; Lamb 2002; Ciotti 2006; Arun 2007; Narayan 2008). For example, Joe C. Arun analyses how the Paraiyar people in Tamil Nadu insist on their own identity by using, applying, re-interpreting and converting the images and symbols that have historically been imposed on them negatively (2007). In his study, he discussed how the Paraiyar people had changed the meaning of drumming from servitude to an art form, insisted that beef eating is not a symbol of pollution but a social custom and transformed the significance of land from being a symbol of marginalization to a symbol of empowerment. By performing these acts, the Paraiyars have formed and asserted a new identity. As I mentioned earlier, most previous studies about Buddhist-Dalits have focused on their ‘discontinuity’ with Hinduism (Beltz 2004, 2005; Burra 1996). In these studies, scholars have discussed how and to what extent they can change their rituals and everyday practices from Hinduism to Buddhism after conversion. However, I think that it is better to think of ‘conversion’ not as ‘discontinuity’ but as ‘continuity’, and one must focus on the practical, rather than the ideological, level of conversion. Gauri Viswanathan argues that it is important “to see conversion less as an endpoint than a starting point, a method of knowledge and communication” (2001: xix). Rudolf C. Heredia discusses conversion not as an event but as a process (2007: 296–303). By adopting the perspective of ‘continuity’ and concentrating on the practices of converts, we can then see more clearly how the Buddhist-Dalits live with others – that is, both other minorities and the majority. In this chapter, I will focus on the way Buddhist-Dalits re-interpret the ‘past’ for negotiating their identity. They assert themselves as descendants both of Buddha and Ravidas, and see both as standing for ‘egalitarianism’. I shall discuss some practices followed by Buddhist-Chamars in their capacities as both Buddhists and Chamars. I shall also examine some religious rituals drawn from Hinduism that they continue to practise selectively or syncretistically. As Rowena Robinson and Sathianathan Clarke have stated, “The ritualized and practice-based dimensions of religions become, in many instances, prime movers and principal sustainers of the momentum of religious conversion” (2003: 4). The Buddhist-Dalits practise certain religious rituals that relate to Hinduism selectively and syncretistically in order to maintain relationships with their relatives who are mostly Hindus, while asserting themselves as Buddhists. At the same time, the Buddhist-Dalits try to negate the concept of ‘caste’, which relates to Hinduism, and insist on ‘equality’, which is the basis of Buddhism. Since they desire ‘equality with respect’ stemming from ‘social recognition’, they attempt to gain this recognition by following some practices as Chamars and others as Buddhists.

Excluding themselves? 91

5.3 Case study (1)  About the research I conducted the first phase of my fieldwork from February to May  2003 and June to October 2004 (a total of nine months) in Meerut, a city in Western Uttar Pradesh. I conducted research on Dalit movements, especially Buddhist movements led by the Buddhist Society of India, including the organization and the leaders of these movements. During the second phase of my fieldwork, which lasted from April 2005 to February 2006, including a brief visit in March 2009, I lived in Village V, Muzaffarnagar district, Western Uttar Pradesh and studied the everyday practices, as well as the rituals, of the Buddhist-Dalits. Map 5.1 is a map of Village V. Chamar residential areas (shown as ‘Ch’) are situated on the borders of the village. According to the 2001 census, the population of Village V was 3,982, and, in terms of SCs, 847 people, almost all Chamars, accounted for about 21% of the population. In March 2009, there were 237 Buddhists, consisting of 120 males, 117 females and a total of 37 households. Figure 5.1 is a graph of the composition of the population of Village V by ‘caste’. The most populous caste is the Jinwars, who are OBCs, followed by the Chamars. Most Buddhist-Dalits living in Village V (Map 5.2) had a Dīks· ā (conversion) ceremony, which was led by the leaders of the Meerut branch of the Buddhist

Map 5.1  Village V (Bn: Baniyā, Ch: Chamar, Chu: Chūrā (Bhangī), Ja: Jāt, Ji: Jinwar, Jo: Joggy, K: Kumahar, M-S: Muslim (Shiah), P: Brahman (Pandit), Am. P: Ambedkar Park, H. M. : Hindu Temple, M. D. : Village Goddess Temple, R. M. : Ravidas Temple)

92  Kenta Funahashi 0% 1% 2% 2%


Kashyap (Jinwar, Dīwar)






Muslim (Sayead and Faqīl) Gadriya (Pal) Jāt


Baniyā (Vaishya)


Joggy (Uppaddyay)


Banjārā Brahman



Chūrā Yādav Others

Figure 5.1 The population composition of Village V by ‘caste’

Society of India, in 1996. The Buddhist-Dalits adhere strongly to ‘egalitarianism’, and regard Buddhism as their ancestral, original religion. They also have great respect for Dr. Ambedkar.

5.4 Practices as a Buddhist Here I will describe some Buddhist practices that are followed by the BuddhistDalits. The first example is the ‘Name-Giving Ceremony’. This is the ritual of giving a newborn baby a name related to Buddhism. The family of the baby organizes this function. They invite villagers to their house and construct an altar, with a portrait of Buddha, flowers, candles, incense and so on. They ask the leaders of the Buddhist Society of India and the village to conduct the Name-Giving Ceremony. They chant Triśaran· and Pancśīla, and give the baby a name chosen from a list of names in a book. The family then gives the guests fruit and sweets. The second example is the Dhamma Vijayā. This ritual is held on the same day as Daśahrā. This day is very important because it is the anniversary of when, in 3 BC, King Ashoka embraced Buddhism, and, on the same day in 1956, Ambedkar embraced Buddhism (Ahir 2000: 30). On this day, Hindus and some Buddhists celebrate Daśahrā by setting off firecrackers, but some Buddhists pray to the Buddha. The observance of this ritual highlights the identity of the latter as ‘Buddhists’.

Excluding themselves? 93

5.5 Practices as a Chamar I will now give an example of Buddhist-Dalits’ practice ‘as Chamars’: the celebration of Ravidas Jayantī, observed on 13 February  2006. Here we can see that Ravidas (Photograph 5.1) is the individual who connects Hindu-Chamars and Buddhist-Chamars. Ravidas lived in Varanasi around the fifteenth century. He was a sant (saint-poet) of the Bhakti movement and was born into a Chamar family. It is said that he was egalitarian and objected to the caste system and the discrimination that it was based on it. Map 5.2 is a rough map of Village V. There are two Ravidas Mandirs (temples) in this village: one near Colony A and the other in Colony B. The Ravidas Mandir near Colony A only has a statue of Ravidas. The Śiva-Ravidas Mandir in Colony B has statues of both Ravidas and Śiva. To prepare for the Ravidas Jayantī, the villagers organized committees. In Colony A, the committee members consisted mostly of Buddhists, while in Colony B,

Photograph 5.1  A statue of Ravidas in Ravidas Mandir in Colony A

94  Kenta Funahashi

Map 5.2  A rough map of Village V

they were mostly Hindus. They planned events for the Jayantī separately. On the day of the Jayantī, Colony A had special guests from Muzaffarnagar. They were members of the Lord Buddha Club, although there was no direct link between Ravidas and Buddha. In Colony B, there were pujas dedicated to Ravidas, Ganesh and Śiva. These were the major differences between the two committees’ plans. However, in the afternoon, Colony B marched through the village with a music band, and people from Colony A gradually joined this march. In the end, members of both colonies were dancing enthusiastically. We know that Ravidas is a very important figure for Chamars. Buddhists believe in Ravidas because he was egalitarian and was born into a Chamar family. The Buddhist-Dalits do not sever themselves from their own ‘past’ – that is, their caste or ‘Chamar-ness’. For both Buddhists and Hindus, Ravidas is a great entity and functions as the point of connection that ties them together.

5.6 Observing religio-ritual practices selectively and syncretistically I will now describe some religio-ritual practices that are selectively observed. Before that, however, I must discuss the genealogy of Mr. Aman (see Figure 5.2).

Excluding themselves?  95

Figure 5.2 The genealogy of Aman’s family (Bold Outline: Living in Village V; Filled: Buddhist)

He is a ‘Buddhist-Dalit’, but it is evident that not all of his relatives are Buddhists. Some people who live in Village V are Buddhists but others are not. The photograph that follows shows the marriage ritual of Aman’s second daughter (see Photograph 5.2). One can see that the marriage rites were conducted in the Hindu way. The bride’s family members offered the following explanations: This ritual is not Bauddh Dharm but Hindū Dharm. For our elder sister’s wedding, we conducted a marriage ceremony according to Bauddh Dharm, but this time, we could not. (Sisters of the bride) There is no problem with being married to a Hindu. The bridegroom’s father does not have superstition (andhvishvās). He is a Hindu, but he has much knowledge. He knows Dr. Ambedkar, Bhagvān Bauddh and also Ravidās jī. (Father of the bride) The bridegroom’s family members requested Hindu rituals. If we had not agreed, the engagement would have been dissolved. So we agreed reluctantly. (Mother of the bride) The difference between the mother and father’s explanations here is very interesting, and they are dependent on whether they focused on the points of difference or the commonalities between the two families. In any case, we know that there were some negotiations between the bride’s and the bridegroom’s families.

96  Kenta Funahashi

Photograph 5.2  The rituals during Aman’s second daughter’s wedding ceremony

I will now discuss the festivals Karvā Chauth and Dīwālī. Photograph 5.3 is a photograph of the Karvā Chauth celebrations as observed by the Buddhist-Dalits. Karvā Chauth is a Hindu custom but is also observed by the Buddhist-Dalits. We can assume that they follow this custom because Karvā Chauth is a celebration of marital relationships. A husband described it by saying, “There is a pūjā dedicated to the goddess, but we do not do that. We only follow the rituals relating to the bond between the husband and wife”. The next example is that of Bhāī Dūj. The third day of the Dīwālī festival is the main Dīwālī day, the fourth day is Govardhan Puja and the fifth day is Bhāī Dūj. In the case of the Aman family, the only part of Dīwālī that they observe is Bhāī Dūj. This celebration functions as a link between family members, whether they are Hindus or Buddhists. The Aman family said, “This is a festival about brothers and sisters”. Next we will discuss a funeral ritual that shows us more about the BuddhistDalits’ syncretistic observance of rituals. Photograph 5.4 shows a photograph of the funeral of a Buddhist in Village V. In the photograph, the Buddhist flag is shown lying on top of the body which is swaddled in several layers of cloth, as in Hindu cremation rituals. Portraits of both Buddha and Dr. Ambedkar can also be seen. First, the mourners chanted Triśaran· and Pancśīla in front of the house of the deceased. After that, they marched to the riverside for the cremation, while continuously chanting the Triśaran· . Here I would like to comment on the observations I made during these rituals. First, in the case of the marriage rituals, the style of ritual depends on interpersonal negotiations. In the case of the Aman family, therefore, they were able to conduct the ceremony in the Buddhist way for their first daughter, but not for

Excluding themselves? 97

Photograph 5.3  Karvā Chauth day

their second daughter. This stemmed from the need to maintain good relations with their affined relatives. In the case of the Dīwālī festival, decisions on which aspects to participate in depended on the meaning and the function of the rituals – they were keen to participate in those rituals that strengthened family ties. In the case of the funeral rituals, elements of Hinduism and Buddhism were syncretistically mixed for the family to assert their identity as ‘Buddhist’. Therefore, we can say that it is better to consider conversion not as discontinuity but as continuity. The concept of discontinuity relates to the question of whether Buddhist-Dalits can distance themselves from Hindu beliefs and practices, which

98  Kenta Funahashi

Photograph 5.4  The funeral of a Buddhist in Village V

has been a focus of many previous studies. The concept of continuity, however, produces a situation in which the Buddhist-Dalits need to negotiate in order to gain ‘social recognition’, especially from their relatives and kins. I think that this perspective of ‘continuity’ is worth considering if we are to understand the situation of Buddhist-Dalits more precisely.

5.7 Conclusion In this chapter, I have tried to examine how Buddhist-Dalits negotiate between ‘caste’ and their own identity as Buddhists. For that purpose, I have analysed their

Excluding themselves? 99 religious practices and narratives. Buddhist-Dalits follow some practices as Buddhists, some as Chamars and sometimes continue to observe Hindu religious customs selectively and syncretistically. They are trying to be aslī Buddhists, but the conditions in which they are living require them to adopt other types of practices too. While as Buddhists they seek to negate the concept of ‘caste’ and Hinduism, they also need to follow some Hindu practices in order to maintain relationships with Hindus. As we saw in the instance of Ravidas Jayantī, the Buddhist-Dalits believe both in Buddha and Ravidas because they see them as egalitarians. The Buddhist-Dalits can negotiate with the Hindu-Chamars because they follow the tenets of both Buddha and Ravidas. Here we can consider Ravidas as a point of connection between Hindu-Chamars and Buddhist-Chamars. A central message that Buddhist-Dalits take from Buddha and Ravidas is that of egalitarianism or samān – that is, ‘equality with respect’. Buddhist-Dalits are eager to gain ‘equality’, and this aspiration is one of the main reasons for their conversion to Buddhism. Here are narratives from some of them on the ‘egalitarianism’ of Buddhism. We gained respect (sammān) from Buddhism. Buddhism is the religion of our ancestors. We wanted to receive respect (sammān) and equality (samān), and we got them from Buddhism. Buddhism is our ritual (sam · skār). (A male rickshawallah in his 60s) There is inferiority (hīntā) in Hinduism. There is equality (barābarī) in Buddhism. (A male truck driver in his 30s) I think Buddhism is good because in Buddhism your name and your religion have no meaning attached to them, and there is no status. In Buddhism, we can sit together regardless of our status. Whether it is me, a prime minister, a president, or anyone, we can all sit together. (A male manual labourer in his 40s) The concept of ‘equality’ is very attractive to Buddhist-Dalits, and it makes them eager to receive ‘social recognition’ from others. We can now consider the perspectives of discontinuity and continuity in relation to social relationships. From the concept of ‘discontinuity’, the practice of conducting a medley of religious rituals is an unsatisfactory outcome of conversion. This perspective regards religion as an exclusive concept, but this is a modern and Western idea of what ‘religion’ means. Another attitude from the perspective of ‘discontinuity’ is that Dalits embracing Buddhism have excluded themselves from mainstream Hindu society. However, I think we will have a better understanding of the situation of Buddhist-Dalits if we consider conversion not from the viewpoint of ‘discontinuity’ but from the viewpoint of ‘continuity’. It is not unusual for people in a ‘polyreligious’ society to follow religious practices from more than one religion at

100  Kenta Funahashi the same time. Robinson and Clarke discuss ‘conversion’ and ‘exclusivity’, especially as they pertain to Christianity and Islam. It seems that we will then be able to think about the distinction between the theory and practice of conversion within particular religious traditions. The theory about religious conversion emanates from the theological elite or specialists of specific religious communities not from the people, who probably have very different understandings of the term. The hyper-distinctiveness, if one may so coin a phrase, of conversion to Islam or Christianity (“conversion”) seems to revolve around the notion of “exclusivity” . . . Christianity, like Islam, demands of its neophytes that they take on the new religion and, in the same moment, abandon and renounce completely all elements of the old. A closer reading of historical materials, however, would no doubt reveal that in practice the extent to which “exclusivity” has been either insisted on or achieved has varied enormously under different conditions. (2003: 6, emphasis added) In the case that I described earlier, on the one hand, Buddhist-Dalits ideologically or theoretically try to follow ‘pure and authentic’ Buddhist practices, while, on the other hand, they selectively or syncretistically continue to follow certain Hindu practices. The Buddhist-Dalits need to negotiate with their relatives, who are mostly Hindus, in order to maintain their status and position in society. So they have to keep away from ‘exclusivity’. The Buddhist-Dalits want to maintain or reconstitute their relationships with others, and these negotiations will open up a new sphere for Dalits in postcolonial/global Indian society – one in which, of course, they are going to be included.

Notes 1 Ambedkar referred to Buddhism that was based on his own ideas as ‘Navayana (new vehicle) Buddhism’, as compared to other forms of Buddhism such as Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism [Omvedt 2003: 2; Tartakov 2003: 193, 207]. Considering the fact that Ambedkar himself used this designation, ‘neo’ is not a strange prefix. However, these days, Buddhist-Dalits refuse to be called ‘Neo-Buddhists’ because they think that this means that other Buddhists look down on them, and they feel ‘excluded’ from Buddhism. 2 Ambedkar was born into the Mahar family, which comprised one of the largest section of the Dalit caste, in Maharashtra in 1891. He studied and finally earned PhDs at both Columbia University in the United States and the London School of Economics in the United Kingdom. After having come back from abroad, Ambedkar devoted himself to movements for the political, social, and religious liberation of the Untouchables.

References Ahir, Diwan. C.2000. Buddhist Customs and Manners. New Delhi: Blumoon Books. Arun, C. Joe.2007. Constructing Dalit Identity. Jaipur: Rawat Publications.

Excluding themselves? 101 Beltz, Johannes.2004. ‘Contesting Caste, Hierarchy, and Hinduism: Buddhist Discursive Practices in Maharashtra’, in Surendra Jondhale and Johannes Beltz (eds.), Reconstructing the World: B. R. Ambedkar and Buddhism in India, pp. 245–66. New Delhi: Oxford University Press. Beltz, Johannes.2005. Mahar, Buddhist and Dalit: Religious Conversion and Socio-Political Emancipation. New Delhi: Manohar Publishers & Distributors. Briggs, George Weston.1999[1920]. The Chamars. Delhi: Low Price Publications. Burra, Neera.1996. ‘Buddhism, Conversion and Identity: A Case Study of Village Mahars’, in M. N. Srinivas (ed.), Caste: Its Twentieth Century Avatar, pp. 152–73. New Delhi: Penguin Books India. Ciotti, Manuela.2006. ‘In the Past We Were a Bit “Chamar”: Education as a Self- and Community Engineering Process in Northern India’, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute (N. S.), 12 (4): 899–916. Cohn, Bernard.2004. ‘The Changing Status of a Depressed Caste’ [1955], ‘Changing Traditions of a Low Caste’ [1958], ‘Madhopur Revisited’ [1959], ‘Chamar Family in a North Indian Village: A Structural Contingent’ [1960], in Bernard S. Cohn, The Bernard Cohn Omnibus, pp. 255–319. New Delhi: Oxford University Press. Deliège, Robert.1993. ‘The Myths of Origin of the Indian Untouchables’, Man (N. S.), 28 (3): 533–49. Dube, Saurabh.2001[1998]. Untouchable Pasts: Religion, Identity, and Power Among a Central Indian Community, 1780–1950. New Delhi: Vistaar Publications. Heredia, Rudolf C.2007. Changing Gods: Rethinking Conversion in India. New Delhi: Penguin Books India. Khare, Ravindra S.1984. The Untouchable as Himself: Ideology, Identity, and Pragmatism Among the Lucknow Chamars. New York: Cambridge University Press. Lamb, Ramdas.2002. Rapt in the Name: The Ramnamis, Ramnam, and Untouchable Religion in Central India. Albany: State University of New York Press. Narayan, Badri.2008. ‘Demarginalisation and History: Dalit Re-invention of the Past’, South Asia Research, 28 (2): 169–84. Omvedt, Gail.2003. Buddhism in India: Challenging Brahmanism and Caste. New Delhi: Sage Pubications. Robinson, Rowena and Sathianathan Clarke (eds.).2003. Religious Conversion in India: Modes, Motivations, and Meanings. New Delhi: Oxford University Press. Singh, K. S.2002[1993]. The Scheduled Castes. New Delhi: Oxford University Press. Tartakov, Gary.2003. ‘B. R. Ambedkar and the Navayana Diksha’, in Rowena Robinson and Sathianathan Clarke (eds.), Religious Conversion in India: Modes, Motivations, and Meanings, pp. 192–215. New Delhi: Oxford University Press. Viswanathan, Gauri.2001[1998]. Outside the Fold: Conversion, Modernity, and Belief. New Delhi: Oxford University Press.

6 Affirmative action and exclusion of the Muslim outcastes in West Bengal Abhijit Dasgupta

The findings of the Sachar Committee Report (2006) on the backwardness of the Muslim community in the state of West Bengal appeared as an unexpected revelation as far as the Left Front government in the state was concerned. The Left Front which came to power in the state in 1977 and ruled for 33 years at a stretch had failed to fulfill promises made to the Muslim community. One of the chief findings of the report was that the Muslims were disproportionately represented in public services and in primary and higher education. The committee noted, The most glaring cases of Muslim deprivation in government jobs are found in the left-ruled states of West Bengal and Kerala. In West Bengal, only 4.2 per cent of government staff was Muslims as against their population share of 25 per cent. In Kerala, the Muslim representation in government jobs is 10.4 per cent, a figure that is short of their population percentage. In Bihar and UP the percentage of Muslims in government jobs are found to be less than Muslim representation in the population. (2006: 37) The report came out before the 2009 parliamentary elections and 2011 state assembly elections. It was clear that the report would trigger an unprecedented debate in the political circles on the question of inclusion and exclusion of the Muslims in the affirmative action programme of the state. After the publication of the report, the political parties in the state began to announce special programmes for the Muslim community. In haste, the Left Front government in West Bengal promised to implement the recommendation of the Ranganath Mishra Commission; it was announced that 10% jobs in the public sector would be reserved for the Muslims. It was also promised that the OBC list of the state would include more Muslim backward occupational categories. In this flurry of activities, politicians and administrators lost sight of the fact that within the Muslim community, some outcaste-like occupational categories deserved affirmative action more than the others. This is why Sachar Committee pointed out, By clubbing the arzals and the ajlafs (outcastes) among Muslims in all encompassing OBC category the Mandal Commission overlooked the disparity in the nature of deprivation that they faced. (2006: 39)

Affirmative action and exclusion 103 No attempt was made to identify them, although it was well known that like the Hindus, the Muslims too were highly differentiated, endogamous marriages were common and there were other restrictions in social interactions (Dasgupta: 2009 and 2011). This chapter will examine the question of inclusion of the outcaste-like Muslims in the affirmative action programme in the state and explain why a shift in our focus from the state to the community is imperative.

6.1 Are there castes amongst the Muslims? The collection of data on castes among Muslims in the 1872 Indian census created an interest among many government officials to write on this theme. James Wise’s Notes on the Races, Castes, and Trades of Eastern Bengal (1883) (hereafter Notes), W. W. Hunter’s The Indian Muslims (1876) and H. Risley’s Tribes and Castes of Bengal (1891) belong to this genre of literature. The outcaste-like sections within the Muslim community attracted their attention; they found out that such outcaste-like groups could be identified as the most depressed sections within the Muslim community. The academic interest on the caste-like hierarchy amongst the Muslims began to emerge with the publication of anthropological studies such as Ramakrishna Mukheree’s Six Villages of Bengal (1971), A. K. Nazmul Karim’s Changing Society in India and Pakistan (1984), Sufia Ahmed’s Muslim Community in Bengal 1884–1912 (1974) and several articles that came out from time to time in the social science journals. James Wise published only 12 copies of the preliminary version of his Notes, as he planned to do more work on the same project. His untimely death did not allow him to complete his work. His wife handed over the published and unpublished materials to his friend H. H. Risley, who made use of Wise’s ethnographic materials in his voluminous work on Tribes and Castes of Bengal. As a token of gratitude, Risley dedicated his book to Wise. Some of the information here about the Muslim outcastes have been taken from Wise’s and Risley’s work. The list of Muslim outcastes in their accounts is quite an exhaustive one. Let me comment on a few well-known Muslim outcastes of Bengal. Wise observed, The Muhammadans of Bengal have followed in many respects the system of caste as practiced by the Hindus . . . The most respectable occupations are those of the Darzi, Jildgar, Juti-wallah, Nambai, Naichaband, Patwa, Rangrej, and Rafugar; the most dishonouring those of Bajunia, Beldar, Chamrafarosh, Dhobi, Dhunia, Julaha, Kalwar, Kolu, Kuti, Mohifarosh, and Nilgar. (1883: 34) The castes listed by Wise were the counterparts of Hindu untouchables. According to Wise, there were a few learned professions among the Muslims – e. g. Hakim, Habiz, Khwadkar, Mullah, Munshi. Instead of putting categories in hierarchical order, Wise identified those at the top as ‘respectable’ and ‘learned’ and the ones at the bottom as dishonourable occupational categories. It is important to note that in Wise’s account, one finds that the exclusionary practice was followed against those who had converted to Islam. The latter

104  Abhijit Dasgupta invariably occupied a lower position in the caste-like hierarchy. Wise noted that a large number of outcastes in Hindu society converted to Islam, such as the Bediyas, Bajunias, Dhobis, Julahas, Kolus, Kutis and many more. These were numerically the most prominent outcastes in both East and West Bengal. Secondly, the principal criterion that was followed in classifying as respectable and learned was occupation. They were the immigrants in the Bengal delta; with the spread of Mughal rule, they began to occupy a prominent place in Bengali society. Wise writes, “The trade of tailor, bookbinder, shoemaker, baker, and darner, unknown in Bengal when Muhammadans first settled there” (1883: 34). Therefore, these occupations were taken up by Muhammadans from ‘upper India’ and did not entail any disgrace or degradation. The Muslim conservative bodies never allowed others who engaged in these occupations to have the same rank as those who migrated from upper India. This ingenious method of excluding some from the mainstream Muslim community was quite common. Unlike the Hindu caste system, this kind of ranking offered an opportunity to the excluded ones to become a part of the mainstream Muslim community, if not fully, but partially. This is why Wise observed, The different stages through which converted Hindus pass before they gain a position of equality with the old Muhammadans can be traced at the present day. The Bediyas were outcaste Hindus thirty years ago, but a Mullah now ministers to them, circumcision is practiced, the Ramazan fast is kept, and the regular prayers are offered up, but they cannot enter the public mosque, or find a resting-place in the public graveyard. In a social point of view they are still aliens, with whom no gentleman will associate or eat. The treatment of the Chandal by the Sudra is in no respect more rigorous or harsh than that of the Bediyas by the upper ranks of the Muhammadans. (1883: 35) The Kutis were ahead of Bediyas in the social hierarchy. The mosques were open to them. Their burial services were performed at the mosque and the burial ground was open for them. However, Wise noted, no Muhammadans of good faith will inter-marry with them or eat from their dishes. Therefore, while on one level these outcaste Hindu converts were included within the community by being allowed to practice with the Muslim religious rites and practices, at another, they were excluded. This dualism probably made the caste-like ranking in Islam a unique phenomenon. This kind of proselytization can hardly be found in other parts of the country. Just like the Hindus, in the case of washermen and barbers, we notice the tendency to adopt the same occupation for several generations. The Muslim Dhobi or washermen were called by different names – e. g. Sufaid-gar, Mistri, Istriwallah, and in an abusing form, the ‘narak ka dhobawallah’ (one who cleans the hell). Amongst the Hindus, a washerman was unclean because he washed pubertal

Affirmative action and exclusion  105 garments; they were treated similarly by the Muslims because of an occupation reserved exclusively for the outcastes (Risley 1892: 232). One of the most defiling castes amongst the Hindus, the Dhobis, were clubbed with the Chandals, the Jogis and the like. Let me cite some more instances to point out the outcaste-like position of some Muslim occupational categories – e. g. the Kolus (oilpressers) and the Kutis (pounders). The Kolus were an endogamous group. Their position was similar to those of Hindu castes such as the Sutradhar, Kapali, Sundi and the like. Risley pointed out that in Bihar no Brahmins would take water from the Kolus. N. K. Bose observed that some of the Kolus were so defiled that even an outcaste from the Hindu community would stay away from them. R. K. Mukherjee examined at length the social position of the Kolus in six villages in the Bogura district in East Bengal. He noted that the Kolus were segregated in every respect, and the higher echelons of Muslim society had no social relations with the Kolus (1971: 266–77). Finally, the Kutis or the pounders were considered as degraded as the Kolus. According to Wise, from the mid-eighteenth century, they began to convert from Hinduism to Islam. Like the Hindu castes, they were subdivided into Panu Kuti, Hath Kuti, and Chutki Kuti. The Panu Kutis were scavengers, masons, thatchers, goldsmiths, boatmen and water-carriers. Their principal occupation was rice-husking. Hath Kutis pounded bricks for road construction, and the Chutkis carried rice samples for selling amongst the well-off sections of the village. Wise noted that the Kuti subdivisions were offshoots of Chandals, one of the well-known untouchable castes of Bengal. No respectable Muhammadan, Risley observed, “will marry, eat, or associate with the Kutis, although they were allowed to enter a public mosque and had the permission to use the public graveyard” (1892: 540). At the turn of the nineteenth century when the British administrators began collecting data on castes among the Muslims, the jola, mukeri, sanakar, hazam, benata, kasai were included in the census as outcastes within the Muslim community. On the basis of census reports, Risley (1892) included the following as outcastes amongst the Muslims: bhisti (water carrier), chamar (leather worker), chitrakar (painter), dafali (weaver or drum maker), jamadar (sweeper), mala (boatman), methor (scavenger), nikhari (fish seller) and patua (painter). Raifuddin Ahmed noted that in 1901 census the following outcastes amongst the Muslims were mentioned: nikari (fish sellers), kalu (oil pressers), muchi (cobbler), hazzam (barber), jolaha (weaver) and others. While commenting on the findings of census in the early twentieth century, Ahmed observed, Some of the occupations such as grave diggers, washermen, fish mongers, were considered permanently degraded; nikharis, bajadars, beharis, dais, dhuniyas and hazzams too regarded as outcastes by others. (1988: 18) Richard Eaton (1993) described at length the origin of each of these Muslim outcastes. These accounts help us in understanding caste-like hierarchy amongst the Muslims in West Bengal.

106  Abhijit Dasgupta

6.2 Hierarchy and social exclusion What then is the nature of hierarchy and social exclusion in the Muslim caste system? Louis Dumont in his Homo Hieararchicus observes that the Indian caste system is basically a hierarchical system which differs in form and content from stratification. The latter is a distinctive feature of a class-type society. In Dumont’s words, Hierarchy is a ladder of command in which the lower rungs are encompassed in the higher ones in regular succession. . . . Now hierarchy in India certainly involves gradation . . . we shall define hierarchy as the principle by which the elements of a whole are ranked in relation to the whole . . . it is religion that provides the view of the whole, and that the ranking will thus be religious in nature. (1988: 65–6) To distinguish hierarchy from stratification, Dumont observed, We are concerned in this case with concepts which have become totally foreign to us, for our egalitarian society adopts their opposition differently, as Tocqueville has shown us. In the modern age hierarchy has become social stratification’, that is, hierarchy which is shamefaced or non-conscious, or, as it were repressed. (1988: 66) The caste-like division of Muslim society would be closer to hierarchy than stratification. The gradation that one finds between the Sayyads and Pathan on the one hand and Kolus, Bediyas and Jolahas on the other would be closer to caste hierarchy than stratification. This is why in Homo Hierarachicus Dumont raises an important question: are there castes amongst non-Hindus? While referring to Muslims, Christians and others, Dumont writes, We must recognize that these communities have at the very least something of caste despite the modification in their ideas and values. Caste is weakened or incomplete but not lacking altogether. (1988: 210) However, a few points need to be emphasized here. First, if the opposition between the pure and the impure is the principal feature of the Hindu caste hierarchy, then castes amongst the Muslims stand out as different. What we do have in Muslims society are varied forms of social exclusion. Second, Dumont’s formulation of ascriptive criteria rule out the possibility of any structural change in the caste system. However, in Islam, the possibility of moving up in the social order is wide open, although it may take several generations for that to happen. Finally, the distinction between the status and power, which is present in the Hindu caste

Affirmative action and exclusion 107 system, as Dumont shows, has no relevance in the context of Islam. How then can we claim caste-like hierarchy in Islam? The complex system of social exclusion in the form of endogamy, discrimination on grounds of occupation, restrictions on entering public space such as the mosque or the use of the burial ground brings Muslims closer to Hindu caste and offers it caste-like characteristics. Although the issue of the inclusion of Muslim outcastes in the list for SCs was debated earlier, the judiciary found no merit in the case. As a result, they were out of the purview of the reservation for the SCs. The contentious issue was settled by the judiciary on the grounds that the outcaste-like occupational groups amongst the Muslims were not like the Dalits in the Hindu caste system. This is why outcastes who converted to Islam and Christianity were found ineligible for reservation benefits, although Dalits amongst the Sikhs and Buddhists were included in 1950, and in 1956 respectively. However, Muslim outcastes and backward Dalits were included in the OBC lists of several states. Although the lists blurred the conventional distinction between Dalit Muslims and backward Muslims, but by including Muslim outcastes in the OBC list along with the backward Muslims, the policymakers ignored the fact that there exists a sharp distinction between the two: the latter are better off socially and economically than the former. Muslim outcastes are, then, ‘twice discriminated’: by the community and again by the state. Muslim outcastes will not enjoy any benefit from reservation in jobs and higher education if they are not separated from the general OBC lists. In 1979, the Backward Classes Commission, or what is popularly known as the Mandal Commission, asked the state governments to come out with a list of socially and economically backward classes. Some states found this as an ideal opportunity to include a number of socially disadvantaged groups similar to outcastes in the Muslim community. The West Bengal OBC list, which apparently was prepared in haste in 1994, included 64 OBCs. The outcaste-like underprivileged groups amongst the Muslims that found a place on the list were the Jolas (including Ansari Momins), Hawari, Kasai-qurashi, Dhunia, Patidar, Pahadiya Muslims and Chitrakar (a liminal category, observe both Hindu and Muslim rituals). However, the list included all the scheduled caste converts to Christianity and their progeny. One wonders why West Bengal, with a 25% Muslim population, missed an opportunity to include several other socially and economically disadvantaged groups amongst the Muslims, especially the outcastes such as Nikhari, Bajadar, Dai, Dhuniya and Hazzam and the like. The neighbouring State of Bihar included as many as 19 Muslim OBCs on the list, which was consisted of both outcastes and backward Muslims. West Bengal possibly recycled the list of OBCs that was prepared way back in 1951. In accordance with an order from the government of West Bengal, the percentage of the SCs and STs in each district was compiled in 1951. Ashok Mitra, who was census superintendent in 1951, pointed out that data on castes were also collected but remained unclassified. As early as 1950, the Home Department of the government published a list of non-backward classes, which was prepared by negative reasoning that any person not belonging to SC, ST and other listed Hindu castes could be considered as OBCs. Accordingly, a list of 65 castes that were

108  Abhijit Dasgupta found backward but not ‘scheduled’ was prepared. The current OBC list of the state is almost a replica of the 1951 list, barring a few exceptions. Most states included Muslim castes without specifically affixing or suffixing ‘Muslim’ in the caste name  – e. g. Bihar, Gujarat, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Gujarat’s list was a comprehensive one and seemed carefully prepared, as in one case, it included the Muslim caste from only one area, while the rest were presumably left out due to their better socio-economic conditions in other parts of the state. Pondicherry followed a different pattern and included just ‘Muslim’ on the list. The central list rejected its inclusion, and the state subsequently dropped this nomenclature. Presumably, due to overenthusiasm, Pondicherry’s list included as many as 262 Hindu castes and sub-castes but failed to include Muslim castes by name. Some states took great care in excluding socially and economically advanced Muslim castes. For instance, Karnataka excluded from its list Cutchi Memon, Navayat, Bohra, Sayyid, Shaik, Pathan, Mughal. Similarly Kerala OBC list excluded Bohra, Cutchi Memon, Navayat, Turukkan and Dakahni. In keeping with the principle of exclusion of socially and economically advanced group, these two states have set examples for others. Some states enacted special provisions to offer reservation benefits to all the Muslims. Andhra Pradesh offered 4% reservation to Muslims in educational institutions. Karnataka introduced 4% quota for Muslims in higher education and jobs. Kerala, keeping in view the high percentage of the Muslim population, reserved 12% seats for them in educational institutions. Manipur offered 4% reservation in jobs to minorities. Such steps were not considered by the government of West Bengal, although, year after year, official reports showed the dismal performance of the Muslims in education, and their representation in public sector jobs was far from satisfactory. In 2003, at the time of the first decennial revision of the central list of the OBCs, the representative of the West Bengal government expressed the difficulty the state had to face in preparing the list. He observed that there was no database except the 1931 census. Moreover, the Partition in 1947 had an immense effect on the demographic structure of the state, many uprooted outcastes from East Pakistan settled down in West Bengal. The mass exodus at the time of the Bangladesh Liberation War also had an effect on West Bengal’s population structure. He pleaded for more help from the central government in the enumeration of a revised list. Two points were made with regard to reservation benefits for Dalit and backward Muslims. First, no reliable information was available on Dalit and backward Muslim, and this stood in the way of their inclusion. Second, the number of Dalit and backward Muslims was depleted because of displacement at the time of Partition. At the deliberations of the National Backward Classes Commission, the representative from West Bengal pointed out that Hindu backward castes for the OBC list were identified on the basis of the 1931 census reports. The same census report included information about the Muslim outcastes, their number in each district and the nature of segregation that they encountered within their own community. It was pointed out that the Partition forced many Muslims to leave

Affirmative action and exclusion 109 West Bengal, as a result of which their number has declined, and they hardly featured on the OBC list. The mainstreaming in politics helped the Muslim community to articulate their interests in the political arena. The revised version of the OBC list of West Bengal is likely to include more backward and outcastes Muslims. But one is not sure whether there would be a shift from the state-centric approach to actual social reality. In this context, I would like to return to the point that I had made earlier. If the Muslim outcastes differ from others, if they are more socially and economically backward than the rest and if this is an empirically proven fact, then they first merit inclusion in the official list for any affirmative action programme of the state. Neither the OBC list of the state nor Ranganath Commission recommendations take note of the Muslim outcastes and the rest. One of the recommendations of the Sachar Committee Report is worth noting here: The Committee makes no recommendation of “reservation” for the Muslim community but suggests those among them who approximate in terms of social and occupational criteria the scheduled and backward classes among Hindus be classified as Most Backward Castes, . . . the Committee preferred the same benefits that relevant articles of the Constitution makes available to their counterparts among Hindu be extended to them. (2006: 41) In recent years, politicians are raising the issue in order to appease their ‘vote banks’. As the debates on the affirmative action are getting shriller, the case of the Muslim outcastes is likely to occupy the centre stage.

References Ahmed, Rafiuddin.1988. The Bengal Muslims 1871–1906: A Quest for Identity. Delhi: Oxford University Press. Ahmed, Sufia.1974. Muslim Community in Bengal 1884–1912. Dacca: Oxford University Press. Bose, N. K.1975. The Structure of Hindu Society. Hyderabad: Orient Longman Ltd. Chatterjee, S. K.1947. The Partition of Bengal: A Geographical Study. Calcutta: Calcutta Geographical Society. Dasgupta, Abhijit.2009. ‘On the Margins: Muslims in West Bengal’, Economic and Political Weekly, 44 (16): 91–6. Dumont, Louis.1970. Religion, Politics, and History in India: Collected Papers in Indian Sociology. Paris: Mouton. Eaton, Richard M.1993. The Rise of Islam and the Bengal Frontier 1204–1760. Berkeley: University of California Press. Hunter, W. W.1876. The Indian Muslims. London & Delhi: Indological Book House (several editions of the book have come out from West Bengal, Dacca, and Karachi). Karim, A. K.1984. ‘Social Stratification Patterns Among the Muslims of Certain Districts of East Pakistan’, in Muhammad Afsaruddin (ed.), A. K. Najmul Karim Smarak Grantha (in Bengali). Dhaka: Sociology Department.

110  Abhijit Dasgupta Mitra, A.1953. The Tribes and Castes of West Bengal. Calcutta: West Bengal Government Press. Mukherjee, Ramkrishna.1971. Six Villages of Bengal. Bombay: Popular Prakashan. Risley, H. H.1892. Tribes and Castes of Bengal. Calcutta: Bengal Secretariat Press. Schendel, Willem van.2007. The Bengal Border: Beyond State and Nation in South Asia. London: Anthem Press. Wise, James.1883. Notes on the Races, Castes, and Trades of Eastern Bengal. London & Calcutta: Harrison and Sons.

7 Marginalization and subversive religious rites Worship of Dharmathakur in West Bengal Rita Banerjee Worshipped in a large area of West Bengal, including Birbhum, Bankura, Bardhaman, even Twenty-Four Parganas, and Howrah – chiefly the Rarh region in West Bengal – Dharmathakur as a deity has supposedly come down to us from pre-Vedic times. Haraprasad Shastri claimed that the deity originated in Buddhism but was later ‘reshaped’ by the outcastes “according to their own ideas and beliefs” (1984: 493). Niharranjan Ray, however, claimed that Dharmathakur was a pre-Aryan or non-Aryan deity, who has merged with “Varuna, the chariot-borne Surya, Kurma, the Puranic tortoise avatara and Kalki, the last incarnation of Visnu, eventually achieving transformation as Dharmathakur” (1994: 393). But the process of merging and the divergent forms of his worship, as we shall see, indicate that Dharma retains his non-Brahmanical status. Despite his later appropriation by upper-caste Hindus, Dharmathakur’s character as a deity is distinctively different from the Brahmanical gods. I argue here that the practice of the rituals in this subaltern deity’s worship and the qualities he is credited with suggest the curious co-presence of two contradictory impulses: mimicry and opposition. The rites of Dharmapuja, as practised by the subalterns who are excluded from the caste hierarchy, show attempts at ‘sanskritization’ (Srinivas 1952: 30)1 along with preservation of distinctive indigenous identity. In this connection, it would be relevant to mention that Dharmathakur was an indigenous deity of Bengal and not imported from Vedic civilization. Bengal had much less contact with the Vedic Aryan civilization than the northern states. According to R. C. Majumdar, Bengal was outside the pale of Vedic society, as shown by the absence of all references to the region in the Rik-Samhita. We cannot but attach due significance to the absence of all references to Bengal in the Rik-Samhita and in later Samhitas and Brahmanas, barring a few casual notices in the Aitareya Brahmana, and possibly the Aitareya Aranayaka, all of which reveal an attitude towards the country and its people which is not one of approbation. (1971: 35) At the time of the later Samhitas, the Vedic Aryans were gradually coming into contact with Bengal, although Bengal largely remained outside the purview of the

112  Rita Banerjee Vedic civilization. The Mahabharata considered the people of Bengal as mlechhas. The Dharmasutra of Bodhyana prescribes that one must undergo penance as purification after dwelling among the Pundras and the Vangas. The orthodox Aryan view of the origin of Bengalis, as seen in the Sunahsepa episode of the Aitareya Brahmana, suggests that Rishi Biswamitra’s curse relegated the inhabitants of Bengal to the borders of Aryandom and to the rank of Dasyus (outlandish barbarians). The incursion of Brahmanism in Bengal led to the growth of rituals and customs, and the establishment of the caste system and caste-based hierarchy. As Ray states, “We know of the flow into Bengal from Gupta times of Aryan, Vedic and Puranic Brahmanism and its culture and observances, a flow which continued for some three hundred and three hundred fifty years”. Moreover, Ray argues, “Aryanization began the history of the caste in Bengal” (1994: 193). It was the power of the Sena and Varmana rulers that established throughout Bengal Brahmanical Smriti and Vyavahara edicts and law in accord with Puranic Brahmanism. In the Smriti and the Vyavahara works of the period, one notices the efforts of self-preservation by the Brahmanical society. These works deal with ablutions, daily prayers, sacrifices, worship, ceremony, rituals, impurity, expiation, division of wealth, the diverse prescriptions concerning food and drink, etc. The inflow of Aryan, Vedic and Puranic Brahmanism that began with the Gupta period culminated in the Sena and Varmana periods. According to Ray, “The desired intention of the age was the autocratic supremacy of one caste, one religion, one social ideology. That caste was the Brahmans, the religion was Brahmanism, and the ideology was that of the Puranic Brahmanical society” (1994: 190). However, the absence of Kshatriya and Vaishya castes was a distinguishing feature of Bengali society. The majority of the non-Brahmans were classed as Shudras. According to the Brahma-Vaivarta Purana, all the mixed or hybrid sub-castes are divided into two categories of sat and asat Shudras. Those of the Satshudra status include Ambasthas, Vaidyas, Napits, Karmakaras, Samkhakaras, etc. ; the Asatshudras included Kaivartas, Rajakas, Tailakaras, etc. Those who belonged to the untouchable level were Vyadhas (hunters), Kols (aboriginals), Kapalis (workers in craft and agriculture), Haris (scavengers), Doms (cremators) and Bagatitas who fished, bore palanquins and laboured in the fields. Dharmathakur was originally worshipped by the latter group of untouchable castes. In Bengal Brahmanism, which did not retain its pristine form but intermingled with other ideas, became the religion of authority and remained different in many ways from the religion of the indigenous communities, who became excluded from the principal religion. Although many theorists have argued for the presence of synthesis in the religions of Bengal, the persistence of certain indigenous elements in popular religion, practised by the low castes, marked their distinction from the Brahmanical religions. However, that there have been attempts at synthesis in the case of Dharmathakur is evident from the existence of the Dharmamangals commemorating the glory of Dharmathakur, which had been written over the centuries by Brahman poets such as Rupram Chakravarty, Ghanaram Chakravarty and Maniklal Ganguli.

Marginalization and subversive rites 113 Yet legend has it that some Brahman poets were initially reluctant to compose Dharmamangal because of fear of social persecution, “and it was after repeated assurance that the Lord could persuade them to compose poems” (Dasgupta 1962: 305). Dharmamangal’s first section typically begins with tributes to Brahmanical deities. For instance, Ghanaram Chakravarty’s text begins with Ganesh Vandana, Saraswati Vandana, Lakshmi Vandana, etc. (1962: 1–10). Dharma Vandana also obviously finds a place there, but the overture typically situates Dharma within the pantheon of Hindu gods. Chakravarty also often refers to himself in the course of book as dwija or bipra, thus emphasizing his Brahmanical status, for instance, at the end of the staphana section (1962: 4). Rupram Chakravarty even includes a praise of Brahmans (bipra vandana) amongst the vandanas of other gods and goddesses such as Ganesh and Saraswati. His eulogy of thakur niranjan (which refers to Dharma) also includes a tribute to god Jagannath, who has a large lowcaste following (1351 BS: 12). However, Dharmamangal narrates the miracles performed by non-canonical deities and celebrates the actions of non-Brahman, even low-caste folk heroes such as Lausen and Kalu Dom, which manifest the texts’ clear links with folk culture. But the distinctively subaltern character of Dharmathakur appears in the Sunya Purana and the Dharmapuja Bidhana, which lists the rites and rituals of Dharma worship. Jawhar Sircar shows the importance of the ‘theme of cultivation’ in the Dharma cult and the “two major sections devoted to agriculture” in the texts (2005: 78). Although Ramai Pandit is generally said to be the earliest writer of the Dharmamangal, what he actually wrote was the Sunya Purana and the Dharmapuja Bidhana. It is reported in these texts that in order to stop the exploitation and ill-treatment of the lower castes by Brahmans, Dharma Niranjana and other gods and goddesses took the forms of Islamic pirs and payagambars (the prophets and saints of Islam) and punished the tyrannical Brahmans (cited in Bandyopadhyay 1966: 269). Similarly, Sashi Bhushan Dasgupta refers to an incident related in the Sunya Purana when a messenger of Yama entered the city of Ramai Pandit’s residence in the form of a Hindu ghost. Although Yama made several attempts to kill Ramai by having him cut into two with a saw, by casting him into the fire and by throwing him into the ocean, Ramai survived all such attempts by the grace of God. “The historical fact behind the legend is the persecution of the Dharmites by the caste Hindus”. Dasgupta refers to Niranjaner Rushma (wrath of the Lord), which is narrated in the Sunya Purana and Dharmapuja Bidhana, which shows how, when the Brahminic people of Maldah began to tax the Saddharmis (i. e., the Dharmites who professed to be Saddharmis) to persecute and kill them, Lord Niranjana got very angry in Vaikuntha and revealed himself as the Khoda (God) of the Muslims in the village of Jaipura. The episode reveals how Lord Niranjana did not scruple to break the temples of the Hindus, to plunder and persecute them (1962: 305–6). Significantly, Jaipura is a village in the district of Hooghly, very important for the Dharmites, where,

114  Rita Banerjee as suggested in the manuscript Dharmer Vandana, cited by Dasgupta, Dharma revealed himself as a Muslim (javana-avatara) (1962). Such references suggest the sense of solidarity that the worshippers of the Dharma cult feel with the converts to Islam and how they align themselves with the latter against the people of the dominant religion. According to Dasgupta, the Dharmites read the harassment of the caste Hindus by Muslims after the latter’s conquest of Bengal as a proof of Dharma’s act of saving his followers from the persecution. The earlier account locates the origin and popularity of Dharmathakur worship among low-caste and untouchable Bengalis. Although Brahmans have in some cases taken over Dharmapuja, its major worshippers remain the subaltern castes and classes, and the history of the cult suggests the desire of these castes to preserve their own distinctive identity from the twice-born castes to the extent of, occasionally, even allying with the Muslims, who were also generally low-caste converts into Islam. The sense of exclusion from Hinduism experienced by the Dharmites leads them to join the followers of a religion opposed to it. While examining the Dharmapuja rituals, we will also see the role played by the Mangal-kavyas in the rituals. So we see that Dharma worship originates from distinctively non-Brahmanical elements among those who opposed themselves to the practisers of the dominant religion. Although the distinction between the indigenous Dharma cult and Brahmanical religion may appear as obfuscatory to some, the ethnographic data, collected from various districts of West Bengal, indicate that Dharma worship involved typical elements, which serve to distinguish it from the worship of Brahmanical deities. The sense of exclusion from the dominant fold of Hinduism and a desire to assert the outcaste’s non-Brahmanical identity mark the practice of Dharma worship. However, such worship of individual deities by lower castes or tribes is by no means uncommon in Bengal. The worship of Rahu, the demon, by the Dosads is a case in point. The demon Rahu is their patron deity, and in fulfilment of vows, sacrifices are offered to him, when a Bhagat of Chatiya presides. Dr. Buchanan regarded the worship of Rahu as a survival of an early aboriginal cult, which the Dosads were one of the last to give up, and, as they were found reluctant to abandon it, the Brahmans transformed Rahu into an “Asura”, or demon, and placed him in their pantheon. Whenever the worship is to be performed in Bengal, priests are procured from Bihar, who are always Dosads. A ladder made with sides of green bamboos and rungs of sword-blades is raised in the midst of a pile of burning mangos wood through which the Bhagat walks barefooted and ascends the ladder without injury. Swine of all ages, a ram, wheaten flour and rice-milk (Khir) are offered, after which the worshippers partake of a feast, and drink enormous quantities of liquor. We will see how similar Dharma worship is in some ways to this practice of the Dosads. Now I will look at the variant forms of Dharma worship as practised by communities in a few districts of West Bengal where I have done fieldwork such as Birbhum, Bardhaman, Twenty-Four Parganas and Howrah. Although I would not presume to say that Dharma worship in the villages I visited typically represented

Marginalization and subversive rites  115 the practices of the districts, yet the various samples serve to enlighten us about the divergences in the Dharmapuja rituals in various districts. However, as I hope to show, the rituals practised show their specific forms of ‘sanskritization’ and subversion, compromise and isolation. While a number of castes participate in some of these pujas, others have a more restricted circle of devotees. In a village in the Birbhum district called Baruipur, which comes under the jurisdiction of Elambazar police station, the puja has traditionally been performed by a Brahman Mukherjee family, although people from all castes in the village participate. The priests have succeeded each other from the same family, Radhabinod Mukherjee, Prabhakar Mukherjee, Sadananda Mukherjee, etc. They claim descent from the time of Ballal Sen. The family’s land, which is dedicated to the temple, is considered as debottar property and is not officially owned by the family. The villagers claimed that the puja is conducted with the money from the village committee, consisting of the single Brahman family, about 15 Vaishnava families and some Bagdis, Gorais and Koyals, cutting across caste lines. The regular puja consists of offerings such as atap (unboiled) rice grains, fuits and sweets (including batasa, cubes formed by boiling and hardening sugar), and similar food is offered for setal, or evening worship. However, during the annual puja on the day of the Buddha purnima (the night of the full moon in May is celebrated as the birthday of Lord Buddha. Dharmapuja takes place on the same day), balidan takes place and goats are sacrificed. Offering also include liquor. This shows that although the family tradition is typically Brahmanical, it has derived from and assimilated the conventional rites of Dharmathakur. Since Dharma worship is closely related to the bathing ritual, even nitya (everyday) puja requires an immersion of the idol in the pond. The presence of elements typical of the non-Brahmanical cults is clearly seen in the practice of bharals of toddy. Liquor is generally absent in Brahmanical rites. The word bharal comes from bhar, or round clay pots. In the Brahmanical forms of worship, people fill the pots with milk or holy Ganga water. As Amalendu Mitra says, in some places where the influence of Brahmanism is extremely strong, they use powdered rice mixed with water and flowers in the bharal (2001: 173). But, by and large, bharals in Dharma worship consist of toddy bharals, as we see even in the last instance of the puja of the Brahman family in Baruipur. The bhaktas (traditionally devotees of Dharmathakur) carry these pots full of liquor or milk or Ganga water and flowers on their heads. Mitra notes the practice of the bhaktas dancing with bharals on their heads and fighting with each other to seize the pots in some places in Birbhum. In some areas, the bhaktas fast and go to the toddy shop to get the liquor. In Baruipur, about ten women deyasis (who are the servitors of the temple) observe fast before they go to get a clay pitcher of liquor from the toddy shop. In some cases the liquor is prepared as part of the process of worship by fermenting atap rice, ripe bananas, cardamom, betel nut, betel leaf, etc., in the pot until the liquor overflows, while the worshippers continuously cry aloud for Dharma’s blessing. In Birbhum and Bankura, the Dharma image is sometimes bathed in liquor. Occasionally, the bhaktas visit the drawer the day before the puja and even worship a barrel of liquor. By and

116  Rita Banerjee large, liquor appears to be an indispensable part of Dharma worship here, and liquor becomes synonymous with the deity in the latter case. Moreover, worship of toddy suggests an unabashed and triumphant assertion of bodily indulgence and enjoyment. Dharmathakur, as a deity, fulfils the material, bodily requirements of the devotees. He cures diseases (especially leprosy which used to be widespread in Birbhum and Bankura earlier) and sterility, and ensures the physical well-being of his faithful followers, often in exchange for devoted services performed by the worshipper. For instance, a woman whose son was unable to walk was told to do maruli (cleaning the temple floor with cow dung every morning, a traditional rural practice) by the priest for a certain time if she wanted to cure her child by the touch of Dharma’s bathing water. But, most importantly, as god of fertility, he is connected with generation and rejuvenation of life and is closely associated with folk culture. The practice of worshipping Baneswar (the word literally means ban or arrow as iswar or god), which is a large block of wood-shaped like an arrow with an iron arrow fixed at the head, is seen in some places, especially in Birbhum. Baneswar, draped in red cloth (in some places, it is smeared with sindur paste) is placed by Dharmathakur’s seat or throne and carried in the procession with Dharma and bathed like Dharma. According to the devotees in Baruipur, Baneswar especially seems to have a will of his own and refuses to go so that the bhakta carrying the god often finds it hard to move despite his best efforts. On such occasions, the devotee obviously convinces himself that the spirit of the god has descended on him and compels him to act as the divine power desires. The worshipper sometimes becomes hysterical and behaves in an erratic way. This doubtless results in dramatic and sometimes comic scenes (going by the accounts of the worshippers and onlookers) when Dharma and Baneswar are taken round the village. In the centre of the Rarh region, the worship of the kurma image of Dharma or that of Baneswar suggests clear associations with the tribal region. The wooden arrowhead or Baneswar, functions as a fetish, an object endowed with magical potency. Before Aryanization, the speakers of Austric languages in Bengal were “divided into numerous tribes” (Ray 1994: 167), and that the relics of tribal religion survive in the marginalized cults implies a conflict with the Brahmanical religion. Various kinds of physical acts of penance are associated with Dharma worship. In Baruipur, playing with fire is a common rite, which generally takes place one or two days after the main puja. All these rites continue for four days. Phoolkhela or playing with red-hot coals is a common ritual in the villages of Birbhum and Bankura. The burning coals look like red flowers while they are moved from one hand to another, or thrown by one person to another, thus justifying the name of the practice as phoolkhela. But it is only one type of endurance test, or an act of subjecting the body to physical strain to prove the grace of the deity. Although the bhaktas throw the burning coals to each other and carry on the feat for a long time, perhaps for an hour or two, often, their hands do not receive burn injuries. It is

Marginalization and subversive rites 117 widely believed that such miracles happen because Dharmathakur, who is known to have performed miracles, saves them from harm. Other tests of endurance involve using nails of iron, thorns, etc., which have a direct connection with the sacrifices narrated in the Mangal-kavyas. Asutosh Bhattacharya refers to the practice of lapra bhanga, prevalent in Birbhum and Manbhum districts. In these villages, the bhaktas accumulate thorny bushes in the courtyard of the temple the day before Dharmapuja. On the day of the puja, the bhaktas engage in mock fights by striking each other with the thorny branches while dancing to the rhythm of the dream. As excitement mounts, they work themselves up to a point that they strike each other so hard and begin to bleed profusely, although they remain indifferent to the injury. The spectators stare in amazement at these manifestations of divine grace. After the dance, the chief bhakta, the upper part of his body naked, rolls over the thorns on the ground and is followed by the other bhaktas, amid the applause of the spectators (Bhattacharya 1985: 63). Another similar ritual is that of sale bhar deoa (leaning on sharp iron nails). A bhakta, lying on a narrow, wooden plank on which are fixed long, sharp, iron nails reproduces in a modified form Ranjabati’s sacrificial act, which had been praised in Dharmamangalkavyas as the ultimate test of faith and endurance. It had resulted in the temporary death of Ranjabati, although it ultimately gained her objective, and the god also brought her back to life. As part of their religious worship, the disciples of Dharmathakur seek to follow faithfully the actions narrated in the Mangal-kavyas. This distinguishes the cult from the traditional modes of worship of Brahmanical culture, which rely on liturgy. This indicates the closeness of Dharmathakur worship to popular stories concerning folk heroes. It is the emphasis on the body and its fulfilment associated with Dharmathakur worship that distinguishes it from the asceticism of the Brahmanical tradition. Even the tests of endurance, which subject the body to hardship and torture, demonstrate how Dharma worship gives the devotee the power to withstand bodily pain and how the god can instantaneously and miraculously heal any bodily injury and repair any damage. Dharma’s miracles, as recorded in Dharmamangal, were displayed especially on the level of the human body and pertained to the god’s restoring the dismembered body of Lausen to wholeness. Dharmathakur is associated with cure of physical defects, of material comfort and cleanliness. His worship consists especially of oiling, bathing and feeding the stone image, all administering to physical comfort. As I have said, the use of liquor and drunken orgies in the Rarh region and the communal feasts with meat from the sacrificed animals associated with Dharmapuja isolate it from the asceticism of the Brahmanical practices. It is significant that even the Brahman family conceded to the traditional, local characteristics of Dharmapuja in the village. Worshipping the pot at a toddy shop or bathing the idol in liquor constitutes an act of defiance of official religious and social norms of Brahmanism. It gives an importance to bodily pleasure and fulfilment, which sets the popular religion of the excluded at a distance from the spiritual asceticism

118  Rita Banerjee of the dominant Brahmanical culture. As Mikhail Bakhtin pointed out, “In Rabelais’ work the material bodily principle, that is, images of the human body with its food, drink, defecation, and sexual life, plays a predominant role”. Bakhtin argues that this ‘principle’ derives from the “culture of folk humor” and shows that it “is contained not in the biological individual . . . but in the people”. He also avers that “the material bodily principle is a triumphant, festive principle” (1984: 18–19). The emphasis on the body, of eating, drinking and sexuality implies sensual satisfaction, which opposes spirituality. By concentrating unabashedly on the body, therefore, Dharmapuja deflates the asceticism of the Brahmanical culture. Communal worship of the toddy bharal appears as a parodic act which releases the worshippers from the fear of prohibitions attendant on the official religion and may be equated with the Bakhtinian liberating laughter: “It liberates from the fear that developed in man during thousands of years; fear of the sacred, of prohibitions, of the past, of power” (1984: 94–5). Dharmapuja in Birbhum and, as we shall see, in several other places, simplifies the complex rituals of the Brahmanical tradition. For instance, the chanting of drastically simplified form of sacred mantras (e. g. “Dharmaya, Dharmeswaraya, Dharma sambhabaya, Gobindaya nama”, as reported in Baruipur); they seem to be broken phrases adapted from the elaborate mantras of Brahmanical gods). Such simplified, trivialized and almost child-like adaptations of written Sanskrit texts, complex in structure and meaning, is a product of orality and has close relation with popular culture. Dharmapuja in Bardhaman district shows some differences with the form of worship as seen in Birbhum. I visited a village in Jamalpur – an administrative division of Bardhaman. Although the Dharma priests are Brahmans, the devotees are mainly from the Goala (milkman caste) because the village and the neighbouring areas are largely dominated by Goalas. The temple consists of pukka, fairly spacious buildings, although they have thatched roofs. Multitudes gather during the time of the puja, and the rites of worship show a blend of Brahmanical and non-Brahmanical traditions. From time to time, rather warlike dancers with red towels (gamchhas) wound over their heads, wielding lathis and daas (curved large knives with very large blades) danced round the temple. Some of my interviewees informed me that since 1987–88, carrying firearms was not uncommon during these dances. Many of those who wield firearms have political power. Almost immediately after, differently attired, Vaishnavite-looking dancers singing Hare Ram, Hare Krishna followed suit. Dharmapuja in Bardhaman seems to combine rituals from Shakti cult as well as the Vaishnav cult for the influence of Sri Chaitanya was widespread in the district. Dharmapuja in Jamalpur seems to display a curious mixture of peaceful Brahmanical rites and militant performances. The priests are Brahmans, and they perform the rituals, by and large, in the Brahmanical tradition, chanting mantras and sprinkling holy Ganga water. The offering consists of cooked food, rice, aloo posto (a dish made of potato and poppy seeds, which is a common food here) and other vegetables. But meat from sacrificed animals also forms part of the prasad. The cooked food and local, rural fare implies Dharmathakur’s relatively

Marginalization and subversive rites 119 marginalized status, for the offerings of Brahmanical deities traditionally consist of fruits, milk, sweets, sometimes milk-rice, etc. Balidan is a major event of the puja. The place of sacrifice is right in front of the main temple, where a permanent chopping block is in place to facilitate animal sacrifice, sometimes on a large scale. Fairly large goats and sheep are sacrificed. And during the time of Dharma puja, devotees carrying animal heads tied to sticks are a very common sight. I saw several devotees from distant places going to and fro, boarding trains and descending at neighbouring stations. Most seemed to take pride in flaunting the heads they have cut. I heard that fights about mundus or heads were common. Dharmapuja, here, seems to demonstrate a curious mixture of power and pacifism, materialism and asceticism, associated with the non-Brahmanical and Brahmanical traditions. The Mangal-kavyas emphasize the valour displayed by the Doms and other lower castes. The militancy implicit in Dharmapuja is subtly suggested by the various tests of endurance, dances, sacrifice of several animals in balidan, and other rites of Dharma worship in various areas. The militancy of the Goalas of Jamalpur, which had formed part of the Dharmapuja tradition here, has got enmeshed with contemporary political affairs, and Dharmapuja has transformed itself into a forum for demonstrating political power. Such an adaptation goes to prove the secular and popular credentials of Dharmathakur. Around the time of Buddha purnima in May, Dharma melas or fairs are held in many parts of Bardhaman and Birbhum, Bankura, etc. Gopikanta Kongar cites the Buroraj (one of the names under which Dharma is worshipped) in Jamalpur, where the fair lasts for a month and several thousands of people come from various parts of the state (2003: 128), which includes people of different religions. The market, a place for exchange of goods and necessities and money, which involves haggling and sometimes the language of billingsgate (Bakhtin 1984: 15–17)  – a temporary socializing space that promotes egalitarianism and mingling, inevitably connects with the popular and the material sphere. The association of Dharmathakur and festive melas, therefore, distances Dharmapuja from the spirituality and asceticism concomitant with Brahmanical religion. Although Birbhum, Bankura and adjacent districts are the home of the Rarh tradition, Dharmapuja takes place in many other areas such as Twenty-Four Parganas and Howrah. The worship of Dharmathakur, as practised in these areas, also reveals important and distinctive characteristics of the Dharma cult as a subaltern cult in West Bengal. Unlike the stone image (generally of tortoise), widely worshipped as Dharmathakur in Birbhum and adjacent districts, the village of Rajpur in Twenty-Four Parganas flaunts an anthropomorphic deity, moustached, with thick black hair, the upper part of his body uncovered, sitting upright with a mace in his hand. He is often held as synonymous with Yamathakur, or the god of death. Although the kurma image in stone is placed by the side of three such clay images and the devotees claimed that the stone image was the oldest, this mixture with anthropomorphism suggests the influence of the Brahmanical tradition and a departure from the cult as practised in most places including Howrah. Although in various rural areas in Birbhum and Bankura, Dharmathakur is worshipped by

120  Rita Banerjee the upper castes as well as the lower castes and untouchables, in Rajpur, the upper castes associate Dharmapuja with the Dom community. The Doms in this multi-caste village, where divisions on residences exist along caste lines (like Dompara, Kaibartapara, Ghoshpara, Chakravartypara), consist of about 14 families and about 100 people (fieldwork done in 2003). Although upper-caste Kayastha devotees have occasionally extended donations and gifts to the temple, Dharmathakur still remains a deity, fairly exclusively, of the Doms. The Dharma temple, built of clay and partly cement, with a tiled roof, is situated in the ground adjacent to a bazaar, where fish and vegetables are sold. The location indicates its marginalized status. As in many other places, the nityapuja consists of oiling the kurma image of Dharma and bathing it. Even during the annual puja, bathing is the principal ritual, accompanied by the chanting of a slightly more elaborate version of the nitya puja mantra (Ong Dharmaraja nama). In this particular family, a 65-year-old widowed woman called Chitubala routinely performed the rites of the nitya puja, although her brother Sona Pandit held the honourable and official position of the Dharma purohit (priest) and presided over the important annual puja. Significantly, women are not prohibited from officiating as priests of Dharmathakur. For example, Nanigopal Bandyopadhyay, in his introduction to Ramai Pandit’s Dharmapuja Bidhana, states that near Balluka River in Bardhaman district (where the puja seems to have originated), there is a Dharmaraj temple in Bodojaan. The Dom priestess who has the prerogative of performing the nitya puja is Mukhi Thakurani or Mokshada Pandit (Bandyopadhyay 1323 B. S. : 3). The Dom priest and priestess mark an important departure from the puja performed in Baruipur and Jamalpur, where Brahman priests officiated. Traces of ‘sanskritization’ are detected in the absence of animal sacrifice; the offering consisting solely of fruits, sweets, milk and rice. Their desire to prove the importance of the mantras in Dharmapuja and the women’s ignorance of these special mantras, despite the latter’s role in the daily worship, imply attempts at sanskritization. The customs of a patriarchal society seem to be encroaching on the more egalitarian rituals of Dharmathakur. Yet the devotees’ pride in Dharmapuja as their own puja suggests a curious combination of their desire to elevate themselves to the level of the upper castes on the one hand, and to assert their independence and mutual unity, on the other. As in Jamalpur, the Dharma mela is also held in Rajpur during the month of May, on the day of the Buddha purnima. A week before the mela, the drummers announce the event to the swajatis (caste members) in neighbouring villages. This indicates that Dharma mela is principally an event for the Doms or devotees of Dharmathakur. My last visit was to a Dharma temple in Howrah district. About 30 kilometres from Calcutta is the village of Mahishagot dominated by Bagdis or Barga Kshatriyas (as they call themselves in an attempt to ‘sanskritize’). While Dharmapuja, Mansapuja, Shivapuja, and Kalipuja are performed in the village, the Bagdi priest officiates only in Dharmapuja and Mansapuja, but Brahmin priests are responsible for Shivapuja and Kalipuja. Dharma and Mansa are often seen as a married couple in the Rarh region, Mansa being called Dharma’s

Marginalization and subversive rites 121 kaminya or consort. Significantly, both deities originate in the popular tradition, and both protect the body against invading, evil agencies, whether diseases or snakes. The Bagdi priest attains special status during the 12 days of the annual puja by wearing a symbolic copper ring or bangle, which is referred to as tamra dharan. That women are also entitled to wear the copper ring demonstrates a distinct difference from the Brahmanical ceremony of the male Brahmin wearing the sacred thread or upanayana. The prerogatives of Dom and Bagdi women in these acts of worship suggest the persistence of the ‘mother right’,2 prevalent in agricultural societies, where women predominated, as opposed to the pastoral, Vedic, patriarchal societies (Chattopadhyay: 252). It seems that these persistent idiosyncrasies of indigenous practices of worship confer a distinctive identity on the lower castes that perform the Dharmapuja. As in the other places, animal sacrifice takes place during the annual puja here, and balidan includes birds like hens and ducks and animals other than the goat. However, in a curious instance of ‘sanskritization’, the priest appeared reluctant to mention the sacrifice of any other animals than goats, which also occurs during Kalipuja. The ubiquitous endurance tests, etc., such as sale bhar deoa and dandi kata are performed. Dandi kata entails covering considerable distance by alternately lying down and getting up; after getting up, the person stands on the spot where his head was and lies down again. The rituals include a conscious attempt to connect with the Mangal-kavya tradition. For 12 days, stories are recited from the Dharmamangal, while people sing and dance. The endurance tests as well as story-telling, dancing, etc., all take place in the covered adjunct space in front of the temple. There is a little tank in one corner of the natmandir and wooden planks are placed on both sides of it. Two people stand on each side and tap the planks with their feet to keep time, while others sing various songs from the Dharmamangal, such as the tales of Ranjabati, Harish Chandra and the like. The largely similar yet variant forms of Dharma worship, seen in the four districts, suggest the adaptability of the deity to local practices. Dharma worship in each case seems to manifest its own distinctive mingling of ‘sanskritization’ with indigenous practices. The various customs in Dharmapuja – the relatively dominant role of women, the attempt to conform to folk and popular literature rather than officially sanctioned liturgy, the worship and consumption of toddy, communal feasts, the sacrifice of non-traditional animals, the association with fairs and the emphasis on the body as opposed to the spirit – demarcate Dharmathakur as a deity of the subalterns. While the import of Brahmanical rituals suggests a desire to assimilate and conform, the urge to continue indigenous practices shows resistance to appropriation and a need to maintain one’s identity. I have attempted to show in this chapter that the caste hierarchy of mainstream Hinduism excludes communities that feel the urge, on the one hand, to be included in the Hindu fold, and, on the other, a desire to preserve their distinction through religious practices which confer on them a recognizable identity. The history and the practice of Dharma worship, as a cult of the excluded in Bengal, is marked by contradictory and conflicting yearnings.

122  Rita Banerjee This chapter has benefited to a large extent from my discussions with Jawhar Sarkar who has worked extensively in this field for many years. I would like to thank him especially for rendering valuable assistance during my fieldwork.

Notes 1 M. N. Srinivas introduced the concept of ‘sanskritization’. A low caste often “took over, as far as possible, the customs, rites, and beliefs of Brahmins”, and adopted the “Brahmanic way of life” with intent to rise in the caste hierarchy. “This process has been called sanskritization”. [1952: 30] 2 According to Debiprasad Chattopadhyay, agriculture was the invention of women. He cites Ehrenfals to show that “the general geography and also the archaeological situation favours the theory that the world cultures of mother-right originally emanated from India”. [1968: 253]

References Bakhtin, Mikhail.1984. Rabelais and His World. Translated by Helene Iswolsky. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Bandyopadhyay, Asit Kumar.1966. Bangla Sahityer Itibritta: Uttar Chaitanyayug o Astadosh Shatabdi. Volume 3. Calcutta: Modern Book Depot. Bandyopadhyay, Nanigopal.1323 BS (Bengali year). Dharmapuja Bidhana: Ramai Pandit Birachita. Calcutta: Bangiya Sahitya Parishad. Bhattacharya, Ashutosh.1985. Banglar Lokshruti. Calcutta: Amartya Prakash. Chakravarty, Ghanaram.1962. Sree Dharma Mangal. Edited by Piyush K. Mahapatra. Calcutta: Calcutta University Press. Chakravarty, Rupram.1351 (Bengali year). Rupramer Dharma Mangal. Edited by Sukumar Sen and Panchanan Mandal. Bardhaman: Sahitya Sabha. Chattopadhyay, Debiprasad.1968. Lokayata: A Study in Ancient Materialism.2nd ed. Calcutta: People’s Publishing. Dasgupta, Shashibhushan.1962. Obscure Religious Cults. Calcutta: Firma K. M. Konar, G.2003. Bardhaman Jelar Puja-parban O Utsab. Bardhaman: Indu Publications. Majumdar, Ramesh Chandra.1971. History of Bengal. Rpt. Patna: N. V. Publications. Mitra, Amalendu.2001. Rarher Sanskriti o Dharmathakur.2nd ed. Calcutta: Subarnarekha. Ray, Niharranjan.1994. History of the Bengali People (ancient period). Translated by John W. Hood. Hyderabad: Orient Longman. Shastri, Haraprasad.1984. ‘Bange Bouddha Dharma’, in Sukumar Sen (ed.), Collected Works of Haraprasad Shastri, Volume 3 (pp.  483–500). Calcutta: West Bengal State Book Board. Sircar, Jawhar.2005. The Construction of Hindu Identity in Medieval West Bengal: The Role of Popular Cults. Calcutta: Institute of Development Studies. Srinivas, Mysore Narasimhachar.1952. Religion and Society Among the Coorgs of South India. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Part III

Ethnicity and politics of inclusion and exclusion in the north-eastern frontier

8 The forest as a site of conflict Struggles over Indigenous territory in the Bodo areas of Assam Makiko Kimura 8.1 Introduction In July 2012, a clash between the Bodos – an indigenous group in the western part of Assam in North-East India – and Muslims of immigrant origin took place, resulting in the death of 100 people and the displacement of 400, 000 more. The violence continued intermittently for a few months and invited demonstrations against the killing of Muslims in Mumbai and Hyderabad, attracting the attention of people in other parts of India. This was not the first time violence broke out in Western Assam, or the Bodoland Territorial Area Districts (BTAD). In fact, since the latter half of the 1980s, the area has seen a series of incidents of ethnic violence triggered by a movement by its earliest inhabitants, the Bodo people, for a separate state of Bodoland. It has been reported and alleged that Bodo armed groups, and sometimes civilians, have attacked Muslims, Adivasis (Santhals, Oraons and Mundas who migrated from Chotanagpur Plateau during the colonial period) and Nepalis, and that the latter groups have also attacked the Bodos in retaliation. A series of violent incidents in the 1990s (1993, 1994, 1996 and 1998) left hundreds dead and nearly half a million people displaced. In both cases, the worst damage of the violence hit the Reserved Forests (RFs) in the northern part of the affected districts. The first large-scale attack in 1993 hit the Amteka area, which is in the Manas RF on the border of the former Kokrajhar and Bongaigaon districts. In 1996 and 1998, the violence hit entire areas of the northern part of the Kokrajhar district, and the worst casualties took place in the RFs bordering Bhutan. These forests are called ‘Kachari1 Dooars’ and were used as routes to Bhutan for trade by Bodos and other tribes before the British colonization, and they are regarded as their ancestral land (Endle 1910: 8; Pegu 2004: 64). However, during the colonial period, the British regarded most of the land as ‘wastelands’ and banned all activities there, including habitation, cultivation, hunting, fishing and gathering resources, and all the rights Bodos enjoyed were extinguished. Those who continue to live inside the RFs are regarded as ‘encroachers’ and subject to eviction operations by the State Forest Department. During the colonial period, the large-scale immigration of peasants from the Bengal region began, and many people started to settle in the western part of

126  Makiko Kimura Assam. Many local peasants began to leave their villages due to lack of land and migrated to eastern parts of Assam in the 1940s. Land for cultivation became a scarce resource, and competition emerged over obtaining land. Bodo peasants gradually began to settle in the RFs and are now called ‘encroachers’, despite this being the land that their ancestors lived on, cultivated and used as trade routes. The attacks started when the demand of the movement for a state of Bodoland reached its peak. For the Muslims and Adivasis, the Bodo movement for autonomy triggered a situation that resulted in them being excluded by the Bodos as well as being killed. It can be pointed out that the attackers, the Bodos, have been excluded and marginalized by the state system, which has limited their access to land and forest resources. They have suffered land alienation and displacement, and although the state has introduced the ‘Tribal Belts and Blocks ‘measure as a safeguard to protect their land, it has not met with success. When the Bodos tried to become established as an autonomous political unit but found difficulty in achieving it, they resorted to excluding people who were even more marginalized than they were. It can be pointed out that there is a feeling that the forest is part of the ancestral lands of the Bodos and that immigrants have deprived them of it. In addition, some members of armed Bodo organizations feel frustrated that they did not gain benefits when the conflict came to an end. This chapter attempts to analyse how the Bodos have been deprived of the forest and how the forest has become a site of conflict since the struggle for autonomy began. At the same time, it tries to analyse how the importance of the forest has changed over time, especially during the post-conflict social and economic changes.

8.2 Background (a)  Land alienation and displacement According to one of the oldest accounts of the Bodos, Sidney Endle noted the foothills from Goalpara to Balipara as being occupied by the ‘Kachari race’ (Endle 1910: 8). The foothills of the present Bhutan were acknowledged as a gateway to the trade links of the hill tribes of the north with the Tibetans and Chinese traders. Due to political instability and the British colonization, and especially with the arrival of new traders such as Barpetiahs and Marwaris, the Bodos were slowly sidelined from trade, which led to land alienation amongst them (Pegu 2004: 62–8). However, it was the change to the land system that brought further land alienation amongst the Bodos. The British administration introduced the private land ownership system. At the same time, large tracts of land were seized as tea gardens, and Santhals, Oraons and Mundas were taken as labourers from Bihar, Bengal and Uttar Pradesh to work in the tea industry. In addition, the British started to settle the Muslims of East Bengal origins to increase food production. In this process, the lands used by the Bodos for shifting cultivation were recognized as wastelands and allotted to the settlers (Banerjee 2011: 46).

The forest as a site of conflict 127 It was in the 1930s that the political organizations of the indigenous peoples in the plains areas of Assam began to demand the protection of tribal lands. The Tribal League, which was formed in 1933, secured four seats in the assembly election and held a casting vote between the Congress and the Muslim League in provincial politics. The Tribal League demanded the strengthening of the Line System, which was introduced in Nagaon and other areas where the immigrants were settled. Under the Line System, an imaginary line was drawn in the districts drawing in migrants on a largescale in order to settle them in segregated areas (Guha 1977: 167). There emerged a demand by the Muslim League to abolish the Line System in order to settle more peasants from East Bengal, and a committee to review the function of the system was set up in 1937. The committee submitted its report in 1938, but the opinions of its members were divided (Report of the Line System Committee 1938). It is clear from the report that the tribes suffered most from the encroachment of ‘vacant land’, which they had used to cultivate and graze animals seasonally. As a result, tribal villages disappeared and their inhabitants moved into the sub-montane zone (Das 1986: 30). There have been allegations that the ancestral territory of the Bodos was taken by the Muslims by force. Although such cases were reported in official reports, such as the Report on the Line System, it has been argued that many cases were exaggerated (Report of the Line System Committee 1938: 18). The Report of the Line System Committee proposed the idea of constituting ‘prohibited areas’ in localities of tribal and other backward people, especially in the sub-montane areas. The idea was to protect tribal land by prohibiting land transactions by tribals with non-tribals. The idea of Tribal Belts was first proposed in 1945 by the Saadulla-led Muslim League Ministry. It was finally introduced in Chapter X of the Assam Land and Revenue Regulation 1886 (amended in 1947) (Das 1986: 37–8). However, the name “tribal” was omitted from the relevant clause, and instead Chapter X of the regulation was titled “Protection of Backward Classes”. Nevertheless, most of the Belts and Blocks were created in tribal areas, and these are known as “Tribal Belts and Blocks” (Banerjee 2011: 47; Assam Research Institute for Tribals and Scheduled Castes 1999: 11–14). However, partly due to the failure of government officials as well as the inadequacy of the regulation, the system failed to protect tribal land and prevent land alienation. According to a survey conducted by the Assam Research Institute for Tribals and SCs, there are cases of land alienation even in Tribal Belts and Blocks. Out of ten villages surveyed in the Tribal Belts and Blocks, 16.44 % of tribal families were alienated from their homes by sale, mortgage, encroachment and acquisition by the government. Indebtedness among the tribes is a prominent factor for the loss of land, and many people do not realize that their land should not be transferred to non-tribals (Assam Institute of Research for Tribals and Scheduled Castes 1999: 59, 83, 97–102). (b)  The movement for autonomy and violence in the 1990s The autonomy movement by tribal people in the plains area of Assam can be traced back to 1967 when the Plains Tribal Council of Assam (PTCA) began their

128  Makiko Kimura

Map 8.1  Proposed union territory of Udayachal

movement for Udayachal (Map 8.1), demanding union territory for the indigenous tribal groups there. At the time, the autonomous council under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution was already established in two hill districts: Karbi Anglong and North Cachar Hills. The PTCA was successful in obtaining seats in the Assam State Legislative Assembly, but unable to fulfill its goal of creating a separate political unit (Narzary 2011: 39–42). Seeing that the PTCA would not fulfill its goal, younger generations of Bodos through the All Bodo Students’ Union (ABSU), began their movement for the creation of a Bodoland state. In 1986, the ABSU prepared a 92-point memorandum that included the demand for a separate state and officially launched the movement in 1987. The ABSU used the slogan ‘Divide Assam 50/50’ and was successful in mobilizing people for Bandhs (strikes), mass rallies and road blockades. This led to a series of talks with the Government of India (GOI), and in 1993, the GOI, the Government of Assam and the ABSU reached an agreement to establish the Bodo Autonomous Council (BAC) under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution, bringing the first phase of the Bodo Movement to an end (ABSU 1987: 17–18). However, soon after the establishment of the BAC, there emerged controversy over its jurisdiction. The government announced that only villages with Bodo populations of more than 51% would come under the jurisdiction of the BAC, while the Bodo leaders expected that a certain contiguous area would be demarcated. When the government announced that 2,570 villages would come under the

The forest as a site of conflict 129 BAC, the first chief executive of the council opposed it and resigned (Chaudhuri 1994: 29–30, 35). Almost at the same time, violence against Muslims broke out in Western Assam, and in October 1993, a series of attacks against Muslims in the former Kokrajhar and Bongaigaon districts began. The Bodo Security Force (BdSF), a Bodo armed group, allegedly tried to evict Muslims (the largest non-Bodo group) in the area in order to expand the BAC’s jurisdiction. A group of armed men appeared in the forest areas between the Bongaigaon and Kokrajhar districts, and started burning houses and shooting with guns. It was reported that 19 people were killed and 30, 000 displaced in this attack. The violence spread to the Barpeta district the next year, and 100 people lost their lives and 70, 000 people were displaced (Chaudhuri 1994: 29). In 1996, another series of violent incidents broke out against another non-Bodo migrant group in the area, the Adivasis. The violence was triggered by the murder of three Bodo girls in the Kokrajhar district, and 100 people lost lives and 200, 000 people lost their homes. The violence again resurfaced when those displaced tried to go back to their villages in 1998. This time, some Adivasis also armed themselves and formed armed groups such as Adivasi Cobra Force for protection and retaliated. As a result, in addition to Adivasis, Bodos, Nepalis, Muslims and Rabhas were also displaced, with their numbers reaching more than 300, 000 in total (Kimura 2013: 120). Many of those who survived the violence could not return to their homes and were forced to suffer displacement for more than a decade. At the time of my research in 2011, there were at least 50, 000 IDPs, mostly Muslims and Adivasis, still living in makeshift camps. Many stated that there is a fear of attack if they go back to their villages. Muslims from the Amteka area stated that they returned to their village once, but as there were cases of killing and kidnapping there, they had to leave again after a few years2 (Kimura 2013: 120, 122–3). Another reason preventing people from going back is that many of those displaced were so-called forest encroachers. As noted earlier, due to immigration and the lack of land, many people, including Bodos, Adivasis and Muslims, started to cut down the forest and cultivate the land, and began living in the area. When the violence broke out, these forest areas became the primary targets for attacks. When the controversy over the BAC arose, non-Bodos residing in the forest areas were seen as ‘encroachers’ and became the target. Even when the attack ended, the administration did not support the rehabilitation of those who had been residing in the forest areas. In 2003, the Second Bodo Accord was signed among the GOI, the Government of Assam and the Bodo Liberation Tigers, establishing the Bodo Territorial Council (BTC). Four districts were created from the lower Assam districts, forming the Bodoland Territorial Autonomous Districts (Map 8.2). In the same accord, it was agreed that the Government of Assam, with the BTC’s active support, would implement a Special Rehabilitation Programme for those still living in relief camps. This clause, however, was never implemented. Some people went back to the forest areas on their own, but the Forest Department evicted Adivasis in the resettled areas in 2011. The residents alleged that the Forest Department had targeted only the Adivasis and did not evict the Bodos (Kimura 2013: 124–5).

130  Makiko Kimura

Map 8.2  Bodoland territorial autonomous district

8.3 Violence in the BTAD area in 2012 (a)  Violence triggered by a conflict over the forest For the Muslims and Adivasis who had migrated to the area during the colonial period, the agreement between the Government of Assam and the Bodo organizations to create the BTC was an unfair arrangement. Bodos do not constitute the majority of the population in many of the BTAD, and the Muslims and Adivasis felt that the Bodos were being prioritized. A campaign by non-Bodo Suraksha Samity (Non-Bodo Protection Forum, NBSS) to scrap the BTC was launched. It is against such a backdrop that the plan to construct a mosque in the forest area emerged as a social issue. In Bedlangmari village, residents had constructed a boundary wall for the construction of a mosque in a forest area. The controversy arose when the ex-BLT Welfare Association, a group of former armed personnel of the Bodo group, claimed that they had obtained permission from the Forest Department to utilize the area for commercial plantation. The BTC Forest Department intervened in the matter, banning the construction and demolishing the boundary wall. To oppose the demolition, the All Bodoland Minority Students’ Union (ABMSU) called for a Bandh on May 29, 2012, but it did not have much effect in Kokrajhar, a central town in the BTAD area and for Bodo politics. Agitated by the opposition from the Bodo people, the ABMSU activists arrived in the town and began to enforce the Bandh. Some shops and individuals were targeted, and many vehicles were burned (Narzary 2012: 27).

The forest as a site of conflict 131 In July, small-scale incidents started to take place in the area. Two Muslim shopkeepers were shot dead, and the ABMSU and All Assam Minority Students’ Union (AAMSU) held a joint strike the next day. On July 19, ABMSU activists were shot at near Kokrajhar town. On the same day, four Bodo youths were lynched and killed, inviting stark opposition from the Bodo community. On July 20, during a demonstration opposing the killings, a Bodo village was attacked and houses were burned down. Three people died. This triggered large-scale violence between the Bodos and the Muslims, and attacks and counter-attacks led to 80 to 100 people being killed and hundreds of thousands of people displaced. The number of deaths often did not rise above 200 when violence broke out in the area, but a large number of people were displaced. This time, it was reported that a total of 400, 000 people were displaced. For example, in the Gossaigaon subdivision, one of the areas hit the worst by the violence, there were approximately 200, 000 to 250, 000 IDPs. In order to accommodate them, 46 camps were set up, but many people fled to the neighbouring Dhubri district. Even in February 2013, seven months after the incident, some Muslims were still in camps, fearing attack if they were to return to their villages.3 (b)  Post-conflict political change: rule by former armed group After the Second Bodo Accord, the BLT disarmed their soldiers and formed a political party called the Bodo People’s Progressive Front, together with exABSU leaders. However, in 2005, during the first election of the BTC, the party was divided between voting for an ex-student leader and Hagrama Mohillary, an ex-BLT leader. The Hagrama faction of the BPPF (later renamed the Bodoland People’s Front, BPF) acquired the majority of the seats. Since then, the BPF has remained the ruling party of the council. It also ran during the State Legislative Assembly election and held 12 seats in 2011. At the time of the violence in 2012, the BPF is aligned with the Congress party, which has ruled the state since 2001. It has been argued that the Congress was involved in splitting the party in 2005 and that it backed Hagrama in order to manipulate the politics in the area. Although the BLT was officially disbanded and disarmed, there have been many allegations that some ex-BLT soldiers are still carrying arms and engaging in violence. In the areas where non-Bodos were attacked and displaced in the 1990s, many Muslims and Adivasis have alleged that they cannot return to their homes due to threats from armed Bodos. There have also been reports of violence conducted by ex-armed groups during the elections. During the 2009 parliamentary election, the BPF was accused of using ex-BLT soldiers for its cause, while the opposition party was accused of doing the same with another armed group, the National Democratic Front of Bodoland. Many argue that the present ruling party even recruits youth to create a militia. In this way, although some argue that Bodoland is a successful case of resolving an armed conflict and disarming the groups, illegal arms remain widespread in the region, and most importantly, there is a strong allegation that the ruling party of the area is involved in this with the tacit connivance of the state’s ruling party (Kimura 2013: 126).

132  Makiko Kimura

8.4  The forest as a site of conflict (a)  Post-conflict social and economic change: the forest as a business resource In addition to the political factors, there has been a social and economic change in the Bodo society after the Second Bodo Accord that triggered the violence. In this area, after the formation of the BTC, there has emerged a group of Bodo elites who are politically and economically successful. In addition to people benefitting by gaining power at the BTC and State Legislative Assembly, others benefitted through the economic opportunities brought by central funding. In the Second Bodo Accord, it was agreed upon that the GOI would provide 1 billion Rs. per annum for five years. The money was spent on road construction, tourism development infrastructure and stadium and hospital construction. Apart from these, funds were also allocated for rural development. The Kokrajhar campus of Gauhati University has been elevated to Bodoland University, and a few other colleges are to be established. The funds allocated for development projects enriched both politicians as well as contractors, and there emerged a political elite and middle class in Bodo society. However, only a handful of leaders, traders and the educated have been able to enjoy the benefits of post-conflict, socio-economic development. Many of the Bodos are peasants, and there has either not been much change for them, or they have experienced a reverse impact. This is especially felt amongst those who participated in the movement as ABSU or BLT members, but did not gain much after the Bodo Accord. It has been suggested that the trouble over the mosque in the forest was triggered by the ex-BLT Welfare Association. Although some of ex-leaders of the armed organization became politicians and came to hold power, not all of them had that chance, and many of the ex-soldiers became jobless after surrendering. Starting a commercial plantation is their desperate effort to get hold of an economic opportunity. In the BTAD area, the forest is an important resource for the tourism industry as well as the timber trade. Large tracts of reserved forests have already been encroached upon, however, and many Bodos resent the intrusion by outsiders such as Muslims and Adivasis into their traditional territory. In other words, the trouble over the construction of the mosque was a conflict over limited resources by ex-soldiers who had not gained much from their struggle, and who were struggling hard to get rid of the Muslims in order to gain their rewards. (b)  The feeling of being deprived of one’s land and forest It is not only the discontent of a section of the former armed group that led to large-scale violence in the area. A feeling of discontent and hostility towards Muslims is largely shared in Bodo society. When the ABSU gained mass support during the height of the Bodoland Movement, it was due to the feeling of insecurity among people who had suffered from the loss of their land and felt that they would one day be overwhelmed by the Muslims. People believed that if their demand for a Bodoland state was met, their representatives would have enough power to solve their problems.

The forest as a site of conflict 133 However, even after the Second Bodo Accord and the establishment of the BTAD, the situation has not changed much for ordinary Bodo people. Bodo leaders have not made any efforts to reclaim land they had alleged had been taken by immigrants. On the other hand, with the population increase, land scarcity continues to be a serious issue among the Bodo peasants. At the same time, development projects again require large tracts of land, leading to peasants being deprived of it. Such discontent amongst the Bodo people has not turned them against their political leaders (at least publicly), as people are well aware that the present ruling party continues to maintain armed men around them. Instead, Muslims of immigrant origin have become an easy target. The Bodo people’s fear of Muslims is not entirely baseless. It is not only amongst the Bodo people that arms proliferation and the creation of militia-style armed groups has taken place. A rise in fundamentalism is affecting the region. At the same time, some Muslim people are also arming themselves, trying to defend themselves from the perceived Bodo domination. For example, in the Gossaigaon area, one of the areas worst affected by the violence, local youth joined the Muslim Protection Tiger Force among which 12 armed themselves. Their leader stated that they felt threatened by the violence and felt the need to protect themselves.4 Although they disarmed themselves after a few months, such incidents show how easy it is for armed groups to recruit youth in rural areas where the unemployment is common. In other words, illegal arms are easily available to rural youth who are discontent with the situation. In such a situation, the Bodo people also feel threatened because of the reactionary movements of non-Bodos, especially Muslims. In many places, they are almost numerically equal, and the Muslim population is increasing rapidly, making the Bodos feel that they will be outnumbered in their homes in the near future. This is especially acute in Bodo areas bordering the districts of Dhubri and Goalpara, where the majority of the population is Muslim. In fact, many Bodo people feel that they are the victims of the violence. Bibungthi, one of the few English journals published in the BTAD area, analyses the source of the violence in 2012 caused by the Muslims. These villages have become vulnerable due to its being geographically located in the border area of Bilasipara Subdivision under Dhubri District where pours in large number of migrants from Bangladesh and Char areas seeking to encroach the available forest lands by destroying forest for illegal settlements. There are cases of these migrants bullying the Bodos, threatening and indulging in unbearable atrocities towards them. (Bibungthi Team 2012: 18) It also put the demographic change caused by the immigration and economic and cultural subjugation of the Bodo people as a root cause for the violence. But the plain truth is the drastic demographic changes brought in by Bengali speaking Muslims who have been able to get hold of land, employment and economic opportunities have caused fear for cultural subjugation of the local

134  Makiko Kimura indigenous people. Thus, what we are witnessing is a mere backlash by people struggling for their socio-economic and cultural survival in their own land though there were immediate causes to trigger such violent riot. (Bibungthi Team 2012: 18) It should be noted that this is felt not only by some people who are militant or retrogressive but also widely amongst the Bodo community. The Bibungthi is published by a group of Bodo youths who have English education and are relatively liberal. Some even engage in relief and rehabilitation work not only amongst the Bodos but also the Adivasis and Muslims. Such deep and widespread hostility against Muslims constituted a prerequisite for the large-scale violence in which ordinary villagers also took part in the attack.

8.5 Conclusion A close look at the conflicts in the BTAD area reveals that discontent amongst the Bodo people has constituted the background for the conflict since the 1980s. The Bodos were deprived access to the forest areas when the British colonized Assam and reserved the forestland in the late nineteenth century. In addition, due to the migration of peasants from the Bengal region, the land that Bodos had used over centuries was slowly occupied by migrants, and the Bodos were pushed towards the forest areas. Their feeling of being deprived of land and forest by outsiders is an important factor in the continuing conflict, even since the BTC was established. However, regarding the violence in 2012, it was discontent among ex-soldiers of an armed Bodo organization that triggered the attack against the Muslims. The ex-soldiers felt that although they had contributed to the Bodo movement to gain autonomy, they did not gain much after the Second Bodo Accord. They felt they had lost out when some of the Bodo leaders and business people were able to gain benefits after the post-conflict socio-economic changes that took place. In the western part of Assam, land became a scarce resource due to the population increase and development projects that followed the Second Bodo Accord. Being primarily peasants, both Bodos (the indigenous group) and Adivasis and Muslims (the migrant groups) suffer from a lack of land, and the forest became a site for the conflict. In 2012, the violence was triggered by ex-BLT soldiers, but when it spread to the villages, ordinary villagers also participated in the violence. In large-scale incidents of collective violence where hundreds of thousands of people are attacked, it is often the case that ordinary villagers are definitely involved. The argument in this chapter shows the socio-economic changes that the Bodo villagers had to go through in the post-conflict situation of Bodoland. Historically, they suffered from land alienation, which deprived them of their mode of livelihood. In addition to this, they were adversely affected by the new economic development as well as arms proliferation in the region. The spread of arms in society, partly caused by the incomplete disarmament of ex-BLT soldiers, is largely due to the failure of the state Congress government, which saw a good opportunity to manipulate the politics of the region. In this situation, it is not only the Muslims but also the Bodos who feel threatened and become reactionary when crises arise.

The forest as a site of conflict  135 In order to try to understand the violent situation in the BTAD area, many journalists and academics have reported it as ethnic violence and described it as though the Bodos had tried to annihilate the non-Bodos in the area. However, the analysis in this chapter reveals that not all the Bodos benefit from the violence, and in fact, many suffer from the violent situation in the BTAD area. It is only a handful of politicians and armed militias who benefit from the violence. To overcome the violence and achieve peace in the region, it is imperative to understand the situation of the villagers who participate in the attacks.

Notes 1 An old name for the Bodo. 2 Group interview with villagers in Hapasara camp, March 5, 2011. 3 Interview with Mr. Vinod Seshan, Subdivisional Officer of Gossaigaon Subdivision, Kokrajhar district. February 28, 2013. 4 Interview with Habijer Rahman, ex-Area Commander, Gossaigaon, Muslim Protection Tiger Force in Gossaigaon, Kokrajhar district. February 28, 2013.

References All Bodo Students’ Union. 2001. Bodoland Movement, 1986–2001: A Dream and Reality. Kokrajhar: ABSU. Assam Institute of Research for Tribals and Scheduled Castes. 1999. Report on the Survey of Alienation of Tribal Land in Assam. Guwahati: Directorate of Assam Institute of Research for Tribals and Scheduled Castes. Banerjee, Nirmalya. 2011. ‘Tribal Land Alienation and Ethnic Conflict: Efficacy of Laws and Policies in BTAD Area’, Refugee Watch, 37. Bibungthi Team. 2012. ‘Crisis in Western Assam, Causes and Its Possible Solution’, Bibungthi, 1 (5): 15–22. Chaudhuri, Kalyan. 1994. ‘Outrage in Assam’, Frontline, August 26: 28–35. Das, J. N. 1986. ‘Genesis of Tribal Belts and Blocks of Assam’, in B. N. Bordoloi (ed.), Alienation of Tribal Land and Indebtedness. Guwahati: Tribal Research Institute. 28–38. Endle, Sidney. 1910. The Kacharis. New Delhi: D. K. Publishers (reprinted 1997). Guha, Amalendu. 1977. Planter-Raj to Swaraj: Freedom Struggle and Electoral Politics in Assam 1826–1947. New Delhi: Indian Council of Historical Research. IDMC (Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre). 2011. This Is Our Land: Ethnic Violence and Internal Displacement in North-East India. Geneva: IDMC. Kimura, Makiko. 2013. ‘Ethnic Conflict and Violence Towards Internally Displaced Persons: A Case-Study of Bodoland Movement and Ethnic Clash’, International Journal of South Asian Studies, 5: 113–29. Narzary, Charan. 2011. Dream for Udayachal and the History of the Plains Tribals Council of Assam (PTCA, 1967–1993). Kokrajhar: N. L. Publications. Narzary, Raju Kr. 2012. ‘In the Aftermath of Communal Clash in Western Assam’, Bibungthi, 1 (5): 27–8. Pegu, Yadav. 2004. Reclaiming Identity: A Discourse on Bodo History. Kokrajhar: Jwngsar Narzary. Report of the Line System Committee. 1938. Shillong: Assam Government Press. The Deputy Commissioner, Kokrajhar. 2000. Action Plan for Rehabilitation of the Refugees of 1993, 1996 and 1998 Ethnic Violence. Dispur: Government of Assam.

9 Insurgency, citizenship, and entitlements amongst Indian migrant labourers in Nagaland Michael Heneise This chapter examines the ways in which Indian migrant labourers in Nagaland’s burgeoning urban capital aspire for better work opportunities, while negotiating lax labour laws, sectarian isolation and elusive state entitlements in the midst of deeply rooted customary laws and larger unresolved political contingencies. Based on ethnographic research, the chapter argues that the lack of services and protections for migrant labourers in the state can be attributed to both long-standing negligence on the part of India’s policymakers and to significant cultural barriers. The chapter suggests four important developments that situate this argument in relation to socio-political patterns. First, postcolonial India has long privileged capitalist expansion over the politics of democracy, thus systematically ignoring migrant labour  – despite its indisputable role in India’s growth. Second, in the context of Nagaland, constitutionally protected customary laws and deeply rooted segmentary social structures govern state resources and institutions, tethering state welfare programs and stateentitlements to village kinship groups. Third, as the church benefits from the increasing wealth of its members, it is reluctant to confront corruption, often spiritualizing social discontent. Finally, though the cheap labour of distress migration fuels Nagaland’s growth, re-emergent Naga nationalism and anti-immigrant sentiment threaten to destabilize the tenuous political calm.

Introduction Ravi (not his real name) operates a rice mill that can be heard as early as six in the morning. The long, sagging drive-belt that links the de-husking mechanism to the electric motor has a crude seam that slaps the drive-pulleys in something of a calypso rhythm. Drawn illicitly from the municipal grid, the electricity that powers the mill is often out in the early hours. If so, it is roosters and the occasional squealing pig that remind the visitor, though the state’s governmental apparatus is a stone’s throw away, he or she is in a village. Averaging a dozen blackouts per day in November, and early December, the rhythm and pulse of the rice mill is a welcome sound throughout the day. Fifteen rupees is the asking price for dehusking a traditional Angami basketful of paddy; Ravi will waive the charge if customers leave the husks behind. He can fetch 40 rupees for the same weight

Insurgency, citizenship, and entitlements 137 from customers rearing chickens and pigs. In his mid-20s, Ravi can make as much as 300 rupees in a day after he has paid his Naga patron. Some days, particularly in the dry-season when there are prolonged blackouts, Ravi takes home nothing. With a wife and a 2-year-old, whom he visits in Bihar every three months, his regular job at the ricemill pays considerably more than what he would take home under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) back in his home state. Ravi is one among tens of thousands of distress migrant labourers fuelling Nagaland’s urban development with cheap labour and low returns. Citing the Indian census, officials in the Nagaland state government suggest that, for the past 20 years, the rate of urbanization in Nagaland has exceeded that of other states in India. Yet this important segment of the population has been largely overlooked – by the central and state governments, civil society and religious groups. Like most migrant workers, Ravi bears most of the risks associated with his work. With no assurance of a steady wage, no bargaining power, no social security benefits, no local family network and no visible legal apparatus to which he might appeal in the event of abuse, he is entirely at the mercy of his employer (Varennes 2003). In the context of Nagaland, constitutionally protected customary laws (see Appendix I) add a layer of complexity to welfare programs, as the state has limited space to manoeuvre in regard to enforcing even the most basic labour protections and such things as building codes. In addition, influential kinship alliances and networks have developed proximity to the institutions of the state and increasingly articulate private interests via the state (Harris-White& Prakash 2010). Generally agreed amongst my informants, lucrative state-funded contracts are apportioned to a few powerful family-owned construction companies, regularly bypassing requirements for public bids and usually settling above market rates. Many (some informants suggest ‘most’) contracts remain unfulfilled – funds disappearing with little or no enforced penalties. Those that reach execution will demand a labour force willing to absorb many of the human costs of production. This chapter is about Ravi’s dilemma. Like tens of millions of economically disadvantaged Indian citizens, Ravi chose to assume the risks of finding employment in a state outside of the state of his birth and to leave behind a familiar social setting, language, religious community and way of life in an effort to better support his young family. The Indian central and state governments offer programs for his income level such as the UPA government’s flagship NREGA scheme. But with a guarantee of only 100 days of work, Ravi is looking for something better and more reliable. His brother Vineet had worked for several years as a driver with a middle-class family in Kohima – a job that offers steady employment, a place to stay and a much cooler working environment than the oppressive heat in Bihar. When he heard of an opportunity at a local rice mill in Kohima Village, Ravi knew it was a lifetime opportunity. Nagaland, as a receiving-state for migrant labourers, stands apart from many other states in India. For one, it has been historically restricted to Indian nationals through the Inner Line Regulation. For the past half-century, security has been the main problem, and this is due to the Naga nationalist insurgency, and India’s

138  Michael Heneise heavy counter-insurgency policies. In addition, ethnic identity vis-à-vis mainland India, and particularly neighbouring Bangladesh, is strongly articulated in Naga nationalist politics and often leads to violence. As a majority of the Naga populace does not consider itself ‘Indian’, whatever citizenship activities they undertake, they do so entirely on different terms, with different conceptions and operational notions of ‘state’ and ‘nation. ’ At the centre of this disjuncture lies the influence of the Christian Church in Nagaland, which views the Nagas as a privileged nation before God, a ‘chosen’ people with a special calling for evangelism amongst its non-Christian neighbours. As Naga citizens practice Christian citizenship through involvement in daily church activities, classical notions of citizenship and democracy are weakened. In this vacuum sits a powerful, segmentary socio-political structure with strict, kinship-derived rules and obligations that govern community life. As weak state institutions struggle to implement entitlement programs for state residents, out-of-state migrant labourers simply fall through the cracks and remain out-of-reach. Where central and state governments fail, civil society often finds opportunity. However, this is one issue which has yet to be taken up. This chapter is an exercise in linking fragments, as there are significant gaps in the sociological literature regarding labour migration in Nagaland – whether intra-state, inter-state or international. Ethnographic research on rural out-migration and urbanization; cultural perceptions of labour migration; the relationship between segmentary social organization and nation-state conceptions of welfare, and in relation to migrants; and the role of religious groups – particularly Protestant Christianity – in relation to ‘citizenship’ are beyond the scope of this chapter, and yet are critical for a fuller understanding of the situation I describe. In this sense, this is a preliminary study meant to highlight problem areas and to propose some possible areas of intervention.

Development in India: market economics, the politics of democracy and the mismatch between rhetoric and delivery Persistent orderly hunger does not upset the system.

Amartya Sen

Managing social difference among the inhabitants of any given population is a significant challenge for any nation-state  – even those that have generally succeeded in establishing egalitarian democracies. Democratization and indeed urbanization processes, as they have been monitored closely in their accelerated growth throughout the twentieth century have, perhaps counter-intuitively, tended towards increased citizen conflict. There have been, of course, nation-states that have chosen alternative routes – employing extreme measures such as forced homogenization, forced migration, slavery or even genocide to eliminate social difference. However, it is generally held that, though imperfect, democracies have made the greatest headways in terms of providing guarantees for equal treatment and equal access to justice among its diverse inhabitants (Holston 2008).

Insurgency, citizenship, and entitlements 139 Post-Independent India, contrasted as it was with Mao-Zedong’s communist program for China, was seen by the West as the shining alternative for Asian political and economic development. Inheriting bureaucratic and administrative structures that were time-tested and stable, Nehru’s ideas for a mixed economy made sense when coupled with the instrumentality of a large educated elite, wide national party support, and a strong ideological base rooted in Congress’ Independence rhetoric (Jalal 1995). Within a decade of Independence, however, hopes that an Indian-led development system would finally eradicate hunger and lift entire sectors out of abject poverty had faded. Contrasting with British-ruled India where the economy grew at an annual rate of 1%, with an average per-person life expectancy of 33 years, India somehow managed to move in the right direction. Thirty years after Independence, average life expectancy had risen to 55 years, and the annual rate of growth had reached 4.8%. But when compared with Sri Lanka’s 87% and Burma’s 78% adult literacy rates, India has lagged behind at a mere 40%. Malnutrition levels have also remained dangerously high, with a third of rural Indians struggling to attain proper levels – despite India having reached food self-sufficiency (Jalal 1995). As Ayesha Jalal (1995) suggests, The state has been able to turn a blind eye to the fact of 30 to 40 per cent of the rural population going to bed each night hungry and malnourished because, to quote Amartya Sen, ‘persistent orderly hunger does not upset the system’ . . . Development has occurred alongside rather than broken the vicious cycle of poverty perpetuated by an inequitable distribution of power and assets, high population growth rates and mass illiteracy. (p.125) India’s turn in the 1990s towards economic liberalization, with its regulatory re-alignment and shrinkage in sectors of the state bureaucracy, further revealed the intentionality of this dividing line, clarifying the state’s development commitments along profit models, irrespective of their benefits to society. As HarrissWhite and Prakash (2010) suggest, The Indian polity has witnessed increasing tension between what we call the forces of market economics (or capitalist development) on the one hand and the politics of democracy on the other. (Policies) supported by ‘market economics’ reveal political commitment, urgency, fast-track implementation, and the capacity to enforce, whereas initiatives impelled by the politics of democracy languish at the state of reports of commissions of enquiry. At best they hobble towards implementation. (p.11) Ironically, though inter-state labour migration has contributed significantly to India’s growth by providing on-demand, low-wage skilled and unskilled labour, the few policies that have been drafted with labour in mind – NREGA in particular – explicitly discourage migration (Solinski 2012). As most benefits are disseminated

140  Michael Heneise through state or local government – whether sponsored by the central government or at the state-level  – migrants invariably lose these benefits when they move across state borders. As Kumar (2011) states, “Unless otherwise specified, such benefits are available only to the permanent residents of the respective state” (6). Rajiv Khandelwal, founder of Aajeevika Bureau – an Udaipur-based- specialized public initiative that provides services to migrant labourers, suggests that India’s growth will continue to be spurred as internal migration grows: They both fuel and feed off each other. A lot of the benefits of growth, however, actually skip large sections of migrant workers. They may be contributing significantly to high-growth industry and services, but the returns for them continue to be low. Wages in our country are among the lowest anywhere in the world and that does not look likely to change anytime soon. India’s growth, in fact, is a success story because of unbridled distress migration by the country’s poor. In Nagaland, as security has improved since a 1997 ceasefire between the Indian government and the largest underground group – the NSCN-IM, the boom in construction as well as infrastructure development projects has created a highdemand for unskilled and skilled labour. Though security has always been a problem for migrant labourers entering to work in Nagaland, the historic deterrent for in-migration has been the Protected Area Permit, which non-resident Indians are required to obtain prior to entering the state. In addition to an Inner Line Permit, workers must also obtain permits from all the major underground groups that operate within the areas the worker is likely to be working. Workers must then pay taxes to these groups and produce the permit when approached by a representative. In Ravi’s case, he has been able to travel with a driver’s license issued in Nagaland and has thus far eluded the harassment many of his co-labourers experience as he benefits from the provision of an enclosed compound by his employer and all within a powerful village clan. However, the threat remains, and he must always be vigilant.

Nagaland: disjunctions in development and democracy A short distance down the hill from Ravi’s ricemill is the Transit Peace Camp – where the Naga Army of the Naga National Council (NNC), the older insurgent group in North-East India, waits patiently for agreements they signed 38 years ago to be fulfilled. The NNC has a Parliament – their apex body, also known as the Tatar Hoho – and deliberates as the legitimate state government of the Nagas. There are, in fact, two NNCs –the ‘Accordists’ and a splinter group that did not accept the terms of the so-called 1975 Shillong Accord – the ‘Non-Accordists. ’ To confuse matters further, in addition to the NNC-A and NNC-NA, five other underground groups that split off from the NNC and then from each other also claim the title of rightful defenders of the Naga struggle. These include the National Socialist Council of Nagalim – Isak Muivah (NSCN-IM), NSCN – Kaplan (NSCN-K),

Insurgency, citizenship, and entitlements 141 NSCN – Unification (NSCN-U), GPRN (Government of the People’s Republic of Nagalim)/NSCN and NSCN-Khole Kitovi (NSCN-KK). Each underground group has an apex government body and deliberates as the representative body of the Naga people, though their influence is more regional and largely linked to local linkages with the leadership of each group. There is, of course, the Government of Nagaland which is recognized by the GOI, though it is largely powerless in relation to the activities of the underground groups and cannot guarantee security for the population. The heavy presence of the Indian Army is also a reminder that, despite the resilience of the 1997 ceasefire, with so many groups vying for power, security remains tenuous at best. Sanjib Baruah (2007) argues that India’s prolonged  – now institutionalized authoritarian – counter-insurgency strategy in the region has led to multiple localized struggles to establish civil democratic institutions for development. The underground militants, he argues, are in effect “actually existing civil society” (2007), and though they may act outside of the control of the state, they are ultimately “responses to, and artefacts of, official policy” (2007: 9). The NSCN-IM, the largest of the underground groups in the region, sustains its operations primarily through taxation – in some instances of the state government itself. Sanjoy Hazarika claims that there is evidence to suggest that the states of Nagaland and Manipur, for all intents and purposes, are “collapsed”, as junior and senior state government officials in effect pay a 24% tax to underground groups (2004). Moreover, through special provisions in the Indian Constitution, groups such as the Nagas, Khasis and Mizos pay no taxes to the Indian government. The principal tax collector – the collective underground – send a designated representative to collect what in turn a state-designated collector will collect every month from every office. Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio once stated, “The people pay them with trust. When the people want to pay, how can the state government stop them?” (2004: 773). In addition to state offices, insurgent groups target local businesses and family units with impunity. Hazarika states, “The collapse of institutions is not at hand – it has already taken place, leading to acute despair and greater frustration” (2004: 174). As briefly touched on earlier, though the underground groups tax the general populous, none can claim wide representation. In fact, they are largely divided along tribal lines. NSCN-IM, for instance, is closely aligned with Sumi, Tanghkul and Zeliang tribes, while the S. S. Khaplang-led NSCN-K finds support amongst Aos and Konyaks. A. Z. Phizo, an Angami and largely attributed with initiating the insurgency as the leader of the NNC, sealed the loyalty of Angamis and Chakhesang groups (Sashinungla 2005). According to one informant, leaders within the state-recognized Government of Nagaland, including ministers, officers and bureaucrats all ultimately align themselves with their respective tribes. Varghese, in agreement, suggests “localism (love for village) and tribalism (placing the tribe before the larger collective) are among the chief problems that have dogged Naga efforts at nation building or the concept of ‘Naga-ness’ or ‘Naga-hood’ ”. However, some dispute this claim – including the current president of the NNC-A and daughter of A. Z. Phizo, Adino Phizo. In a letter addressed to M. Vero, president of the Naga Hoho (the umbrella body of all Naga tribal councils), she

142  Michael Heneise writes, “Naga society was festered with tribalism had no historical basis and was no more than a fantasy in the minds of a section of educated Naga people” (quoted in Sashinungla 2005). In an interview with the speaker of the Tatar Hoho (NNC), Lhouvitsu Kesiezie – recalling a conversation he had had with a foreign lawyer – said, We are not divided. Did Muivah say “Nagas are India”? No. Did Kaplan say “Nagas are India”? No. Did the State Government – politicians – say they are Indians? No. Anybody tell you that Nagas are Indians? No. Then? Nagas are one there! We are not divided. NSCN-K, on the other hand, states, “Ignorance about the truth of the Naga struggle is the main reason behind the confusion and disunity among the Nagas”. Markus Franke (2009) argues that there exists an inherent incompatibility between the centralized modern nation-state and the deeply rooted moral politics of an independent, segmentary society. Common citizenship and citizenship rights remain abstract notions in the absence of decentralized institutional support. Whether central policies are designed with universal or targeted interventions, the bottleneck occurs as policymakers envision benefits within a modern nation-state framework. What is unclear – and this is a key challenge for social researchers – is how policies and resources materialize or become transformed when they enter a different mode of social organization that is governed by a set of laws, motives and obligations that seem ultimately at odds with the modern welfare state. This is not a simple task, and in fact, there is added complexity as these systems interface with religion – in this case Christianity. In the following section, I will discuss some of these intersections as they relate to citizenship and the development of democratic institutions which are essential for the proper execution of entitlement programs.

Christian citizenship in Nagaland We understand [God’s] cultural mandate as the construction of a city, as the construction of a society. What city? The city of God. From ‘City of God’ by Kevin Lewis O’Neill If any social reformation has to come, it is through religion. Neiphiu Rio, Chief Minister, Government of Nagaland

Though generally quiet around the foreign anthropologist, my informant – Ravi – was jovial during Dīwālī. He spent that Tuesday evening on his cell phone – pacing back and forth inside the small quarter he shared with three other migrant workers originating from Assam, Manipur and West Bengal. It was only that night that I heard Ravi rise above his customarily conversational voice. He shouted and laughed as he tried to communicate with his son above the high-pitched Bollywood soprano. Around the neighbourhood as well, Naga young people enjoyed

Insurgency, citizenship, and entitlements 143 the party mood. The activity seemed pronounced, particularly as impending secondary school examinations had brought an unusual quiet to the village in prior weeks as students and their tutors burned the midnight oil. Further southwest from the village, the Festival of Lights brightened the general restlessness of the town, as candles, jagged Christmas lights and firecrackers punctured the night-sky  – revealing smiles and the relaxed mood amongst migrant workers. In the morning, however, we would be reminded that this is Nagaland – a Christian state. This is a phrase one hears regularly, and variations appear daily in the various opinion columns of the Nagaland Post and the Morung Express – the two most circulated periodicals in the state. Most recently, during the Combined Pre-Christmas Celebration 2012 of Legislators’ Christian Fellowship, the chief minister of Nagaland, Neiphiu Rio, stated, As believers and Christian community, in this Christmas season all the people have to ponder as to how to bring peace in our land and also how we should have peace with one another. The legislators support the decision of Nagaland Baptist Church Council for free and fair elections in the State. As a Christian, one should have Christian values. If any social reformation has to come it is through religion. A time has come to stop blaming one another, and uphold Christian values. One needs to listen to church leaders so that it would result in better politicians and leaders acceptable in the eyes of God. It was through the grace of God, the DAN government came through to the last year of its tenure. In this statement, the top official of the Nagaland Government reminds the people of Nagaland that the burdens and ultimately the moral responsibility of societal problems ultimately rest on the shoulders of believers. Though this, in a sense, releases the state from accountability, the chief minister rather intentionally invokes the Nagaland Baptist Church Council and speaks a language – a moral code – that is widely understood and acknowledged among the Naga populous. A majority of Nagas are Christian, and most maintain membership within Baptist churches – though there are also Catholics, Seventh-Day Adventists, Methodists and other Christian groups, as well as other faiths – though in considerably smaller numbers. The history of American Baptist mission work is itself quite illuminating and highly relevant for scholars interested in the birth and early evolution of literacy, health services, education and Christian evangelism amongst the various Naga groups (cf. Joshi 2012; and Thomas 2016). From the very inception of the missionary work, Baptists in Nagaland were divided according to tribe or language-group, and each group – for instance, the Aos, Sumis and Angamis – all have their own respective church institutions, conventions, programs, Bible and hymn translations, etc. It is unusual, for example, to find Angamis attending an Ao Baptist church, or a Sumi attending a Lotha church. These divisions are less prominent amongst the smaller Christian bodies and a few charismatic groups based in urban centres. However, generally speaking Baptists are divided up along tribal

144  Michael Heneise lines, and each church is an independent entity (a stalwart of age-old Baptist polity) and is associated with others and to the umbrella organization – the Nagaland Baptist Church Council – only by choice. What is significant about this is that the way the Baptists are organized mirrors that of Naga society – its tribal councils and general civil society – with the state government. This relationship, as with the Baptists, is also by choice – thus greatly weakening the representative body. My argument here is that citizenship within Naga society is largely understood as a Christian responsibility, unrelated to representative democracy or the Indian nation-state represented by the Government of Nagaland (and consistently downplayed). Instead, citizenship in Nagaland is beholden to a less concrete – eschatological ‘state’. Nagas perform their citizenship through church membership and the various programs, rituals and activities that the church organizes throughout the week, month and year. It is the practice of being a Christian whereby one becomes a true citizen (O’Neill 2010). Naga nationhood in its more ‘concrete’ nation-state conception begins with the founding of the Naga Club and the NNC in the early decades of the twentieth century, and culminates in the Naga struggle for self-rule vis-à-vis nascent Independent Indian state. However, the more abstract (though fully operational) idea of the Naga nation can be best understood through a query of American Calvinist-Baptist theology. The most prominent feature of Calvinism is, of course, its suggestion that God predestines those who will be saved and those who will perish. John Calvin, the Protestant reformer, famously built the city of Geneva into a bounded city of and for Christians – collapsing Christian and citizen responsibilities entirely. This move, however, does not abdicate the urgency of evangelism. On the contrary, the view is that many ‘predestined’ souls remain unreached. In the case of the Nagas, their near-total Christian conversion experience, as well as their geographic position relative to major Hindu, Muslim and Buddhist populations, has led to the widespread understanding that the Nagas are a ‘chosen’ race – strategically positioned to engage in world-evangelism. In the midst of significant political violence and distress due to the protracted war, the church has become the centre of life for a majority of Nagas – giving members a deep sense of meaning and belonging. The centre of community activity, worship services, prayer meetings, choir rehearsals, revival services, trainings and children’s, women’s and youth groups have filled people’s schedules, leaving little energy, time and energy for activities outside of the church. In this sense, traditional citizenship activities such as neighbourhood watch, voter rights and registration campaigns and community organizing remain marginal activities at best (O’Neill 2010: 4). Julia Paley calls this the ‘paradox of participation’ (Paley 2001: 146, cited in O’Neill 2010: 4). On occasion, the newspapers print open letters from government ministers pleading for the church to do more to control corruption and to curb dishonesty. It is hardly surprising to discover that these churches engage very little with the disadvantaged population of largely migrants, Nagas and non-Nagas, residing within their own communities. A mandatory tithe for all church members (regular attendees as well as those who do not attend) as well as significant collections (given the frequency of services held) have given church leaders significant

Insurgency, citizenship, and entitlements  145 resources to build new buildings, beautify their sanctuaries, participate in international conferences and live comfortably. In a sense, all that lies within the activities and spaces of the church complex is good. Problems happen ‘out there’, where darkness lurks, and where men and women behave the way they do because they have not found their way to the church. Social ills that emanate from the city below are shared in prayer meetings, written down and, if serious, shared amongst prayer chains. Government officials – also members – share their grievances and receive prayer. When I asked one informant (a social worker and member of a prominent Baptist church in Kohima) whether she knew of any churches doing ministry in the city slums, she responded alarmingly, “What slums – in Kohima? We don’t have slums. Where do we have slums? I don’t think we have slums!”

Concluding remarks Meanwhile, Ravi’s ricemill continues to churn out a day’s wage. As Christmas approaches, he will pack a bag and head down the mountain to catch the Satabdi Express to Guwahati and eventually into the State of Bihar where he will spend two weeks with his wife and 2-year-old before returning to Kohima in January. Though he has the safety of family and can receive a food subsidy through the Public Distribution System scheme in Bihar with his panchayat card, these are not transferable to his place of employment in Nagaland. There he will again be at the mercy of his employer, hoping that he can save up enough to make it worthwhile to return to his family before the monsoon. Oddly enough, Ravi lives in a state which technically has more constitutional protections and provisions than any state in the Indian Republic. It is only under the weight of India’s heavy-handed counter-insurgency that Nagaland has seen many of these privileges eroded – especially with the draconian ‘Armed Forces Special Powers Act’. While they have appealed for decades to be recognized for their unique history and the right to self-rule, the weight and complexity of their own traditional laws coupled with a distracted church have stunted the growth of proper democratic institutions necessary for substantive equality amongst its inhabitants. Underground militants in Nagaland operate in the same manner that the traditional segmentary kinship structures operate. As they benefit mostly from the taxation, their traditional adversary is, in fact, their most generous source of support. This complex political entanglement is not likely to be resolved soon, and talks of an ‘alternative’ political arrangement with the GOI seem ever-more impracticable as policies such as India’s Look East Policy have precipitated a heightened policing of those boundaries that India currently lays claim to.

Bibliography Baruah, Sanjib.2007. Durable Disorder: Understanding the Politics of Northeast India. Delhi: Oxford University Press. Correspondent.2012. ‘Combined Christmas Celebration 2012 of Legislators’ Christian Fellowship’, Morung Express, 14 December 2012.

146  Michael Heneise Eriksen, Thomas Hylland.2010. Small Places, Large Issues: An Introduction to Social and Cultural Anthropology (3rd edition). London: Pluto Press. Franke, Markus.2009. War and Nationalism in South Asia: The Indian State and the Nagas. New York: Routledge. Harris-White, Barbara and Aseem Prakash.2010. ‘Social Discrimination in India: A Case for Economic Citizenship’, Oxfam India Working Papers Series. Hazarika, Sanjoy.2000. Rites Passage: Border Crossings, Imagined Homelands, India’s East and Bangladesh. New Delhi: Penguin Books. Hazarika, Sanjoy.2004. Land, Conflict, Identity in India’s Northeast: Negotiating the Future. New Delhi: Center for Policy Research, Dharma Marg, Chanakyapuri. Holston, James.2008. Insurgent Citizenship: Disjunctions of Democracy and Modernity in Brazil. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Iralu, Kaka D.2000. Nagaland and India: The Blood and the Tears. Kohima: Published by the author. Jalal, Ayesha.1995. Democracy and Authoritarianism in South Asia: A Comparative and Historical Perspective. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Joshi, Vibha.2012. A Matter of Belief: Christian Conversion and Healing in North-East India. New York: Berghahn Books. Kumar, N. Ajith.2011. ‘Vulnerability of Migrants and Responsiveness of the State: The Case of Unskilled Migrant Workers in Kerala, India’, Working Paper No.26. Kochi, Kerala: Centre for Socio-economic & Environmental Studies. O’Neill, Kevin Lewis.2010. City of God: Citizenship in Post-war Guatemala. Berkeley: University of California Press. Paley, Julia.2001. Marketing Democracy: Power and Social Movements in Post-Dictatorship Chile. Berkeley & Los Angeles: University of California Press. Sahni, Ajai.2002. ‘Survey of Conflicts and Resolution in India’s Northeast’, Faultlines: Writings on Conflict and Resolution, 12 May: 77. Solinski, Thomas.2012. ‘NREGA and Labour Migration in India: Is Village Life What the ‘Rural’ Poor Want?’, The South Asianist, 1 (1). Online: Thomas, John.2016. Evangelising the Nation: Religion and the Formation of Naga Political Identity. New York: Routledge. Varennes, de Fernand.2003. ‘Language Rights and Human Rights: The International Experience’, in Donall Oriagain (ed.), Language and Law in Norther Ireland, 5–16: Belfast Studies in Language, Culture and Politics, p.9. Belfast: Queen’s University Belfast. Online:

Online references Sashinungla.2005. ‘Naga Insurgency and Factional Intransigence’, Faultlines: Writings on Conflict and Resolution, 16 January. Online: faultlines/volume16/Article%204.pdf (last accessed 15 December 2012).

10 Moral geographies The problem of sovereignty and indigeneity amongst the Nagas Arkotong Longkumer

‘Nagaland: A Remote Land of Jungle, Jesus – and Religious War’ reads a Daily Herald headline published in Illinois, America. Growing up in a remote village of Nagaland in North-East India during the early 1950s, David Jamir recounts to the Daily Herald how the sermons of Billy Graham, an American evangelist, wafted through the din of the monsoon rains beating the tin roof of his house. Graham’s voice was unassailable. From these sermons, David Jamir was able to imagine America: “A land where skyscrapers, not banana trees, ruled the skyline. A nation where Jesus was ever-present, just like in Nagaland”. Not far from Jamir’s home, Thuingaleng Muivah, a future national leader, recounted how even before he could read, he stared at a picture of Christ cradling a lamb in his father’s Bible and later saw in it a proverb for his people. “God has created all of creation. Nagaland is part of creation – and God has a purpose for it. Surely God means for us to be free”. In order to understand this larger geopolitical situation, I will show how Naga sovereignty, and ‘place-making’ (Muehlebach 2001), are significant to the Nagas’ sense of belonging. This chapter will suggest that territory is not an object or a place that can be fixed in time, but rather an act of narration and imagination with the power to shape where it belongs. In this regard, I will employ two registers. First, I will explore the importance of Christianity for the Nagas as they imagine their nation. Contrasted largely with what they perceive as ‘Hindu-India’, this register is pivotal in resisting the larger resonating force of the Indian nation-state. Second, the United Nations (UN) has become a transnational arbiter that provides universal recognition of human rights and gives ‘moral’ weight to the Nagas’ claim for self-determination. This is not unique to the Nagas, but shared amongst many indigenous peoples (Jung 2008; Karlsson 2001; Moksnes 2007), who are now questioning the terms of their political exclusion. While it is important to keep these two points in mind, this chapter will make the case that we need to rethink traditional forms of sovereignty based on a strong national state that orders difference. Instead, it would be more useful to think about sovereign territories as the organization of space or territoriality (Sack

148  Arkotong Longkumer 1986) that can be viewed as a symbolic attachment to territory that constitutes identities, security and a sense of belonging (Robbins 2006: 62). Robert Sack argues that territoriality is “intimately related to how people use the land”, how they “organize themselves in space and how they give meaning to place” (Sack 1986: 2). The ‘political’ aspect of Sack’s notion of territoriality is helpful in this case because it can be viewed as a geographic strategy, because space and society are interlinked and territoriality is the process that connects them (Sack 1986: 20). This chapter will also show the contradictions and tensions in these articulations due to the messy project of nation building, particularly when we consider Christianity and its integral relation to Naga identity. One way to consider this issue is to employ what Ranger (1993) calls the ‘re-imaging of tradition’ that acknowledges the global force of indigenous politics, which destabilizes the terrain of ethnic and Christian exclusivism. The Nagas are an interesting case in which to discuss these issues because Nagaland is in an area of North-East India that straddles four nation-states: Bangladesh, Bhutan, China and Burma. It is an area interspersed with a mosaic of ethnic, religious and linguistic constellations – a ‘mountain Babel’ – that has historically proved inimical to any centralized state authority (Myint-U 2011: 79). This has resulted in a concentrated military presence – not least due to the IndoChina war of 1962, the porous international borders and the demands for sovereignty by many of the indigenous populations in the area. India is worried that any political and territorial compromise on Naga sovereignty will have a domino effect, with many states such as Kashmir, Assam, Manipur and the Maoist movements of central India making similar demands. Importantly, it will expose India to the strength of China’s monopoly in the region, already a major power broker in South-East Asia, and in particular Burma.

10.1 Classify and conquer: Nagas of India and Burma The Nagas live between the lower ranges of the Eastern Himalayas in the borderlands of North-East India and North-West Burma (Myanmar). The label ‘Naga’ includes a number of ethnic groups speaking a variety of Tibeto-Burman languages. Approximately 2 million Nagas live in India, and 100, 000 or so in Myanmar’s Sagaing Division and Kachin state. Ambiguity over the term ‘Naga’ has never been satisfactorily resolved, as it was a name not used by the Nagas themselves (see Woodthorpe 1881), which continues to highlight the tension between taxonomy and belonging (see next). There are those who argue that Naga collective identity is a modern political, cultural or ‘invented’ category (Baruah 2003), shaped primarily by the forces of colonialism and post-colonialism. It could be that the various Nagas after millennia of wandering ended up in the hills of the Eastern Himalayas and only recently coalesced in the patterns the British constructed. Others reject outside historical agents as the sole factor responsible for ‘creating’a Naga identity. They argue that the Nagas have shared some common ancestry, underpinned by migration stories and creation myths (Iralu 2000; Pamei 2001). For example, Makhel in the Mao

Moral geographies 149 Naga region of Manipur state in India is recognized as the place of origin for many Southern and Western Nagas. The Northern and Eastern Nagas believe that Longtrok (in Chuliyimti, Northeast Nagaland), where one finds six stonesshaped as male and female reproductive organs, is their place of origin (Saul 2005: 20–3). Significantly, if we accept colonial classification or ‘invention’ as the only authentic enumeration of identity, then we deny the Nagas active historical agency. On the other hand, privileging Naga narratives prima facie uncritically will lead to a form of parochialism that precludes the influence of outside historical forces. Reflecting on South African identity formations, Terence Ranger (1993) comments that rather than focus solely on the “invention of tradition” as colonialism’s legacy to enclose the previous dynamism of tradition, it is vital to historicize the ongoing “imagining and re-imagining of tradition”. This helpful pointer can be useful in the Naga case, particularly in understanding the dynamism of Naga identity without foreclosing the internal and external processes of identity iteration, a point I return to below.

10.2 Modern political ‘Naga’ identity: assertion of difference Various Naga authors have remarked that the shared experience in the Labour Corps during World War I was responsible for a collective and broader sense of Naga belonging. Around 4, 000 Nagas were sent to France as part of the Labour Corps and saw ‘civilized nations’ fight for their own honour, while condemning Naga conflicts as barbarous, petty squabbles (Yonuo 1974). It provided a reason for political unification to represent their claim to the world (Alemchiba 1970; Horam 1988). Upon returning home in 1918, they formed the Naga Club in 1919, informally supported by the local British administrators and organized primarily by Naga Christian educated government officials and several headmen around the two principal villages – Mokokchung and Kohima. When the Simon Commission headed by Sir John Simon came to Kohima in 1929, to seek opinions on the future of India, 20 Naga tribes signed and submitted a memorandum that stated, We pray that the British Government will continue to safeguard our rights against all encroachments . . . that we should not be thrust to the mercy of the people (i. e. India) who could never have conquered us themselves, and to whom we are never subjected; but to leave us alone to determine for ourselves as in ancient times. (Alemchiba 1970: 164) A key aspect of British colonialism in the Naga Hills from the mid-nineteenth century was its insistence on difference – the Nagas were allowed to control traditional customs and maintain their own identity (Franke 2006). This form of paternalism clearly marked the hierarchy between subjects and rulers. The Indian union, in contrast, argued for a negation of imperialism based on consent and self-determination – theoretically ‘a voluntary union of people’. Since the Nagas

150  Arkotong Longkumer refused to give their consent to this union, the GOI deployed military force, which in turn only strengthened the cause for Naga independence (Franke 2006: 69–70). The irony of this situation, particularly the denial of self-determination to the Nagas (since India only recently gained independence) can only be explained as a continuation of the imperial conquest begun by the British. In a crucial departure, it was marked by the inability to assimilate a recalcitrant periphery which insisted on difference. At the centre of this debate was Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of India, and the president of the Indian National Congress (INC). Sensing that something had to be done about the ‘tribal’ Naga areas of North-East India, Nehru wrote to T. Sakhrie (the general secretary of the NNC formed in February 1946) on the 1 August 1946. In his letter, Nehru explained his view that the Naga territory was too small to be politically and economically independent. Nehru evoked the language of paternalism – that the ‘backward’ Nagas needed help – and that autonomy would be assured to the Nagas with their own laws. In the same letter, Nehru strongly insisted on the integration of the Nagas within the Indian union and Indian laws. This ambivalence not only highlighted the uncertainty of Nehru’s position regarding the Naga Hills but also contrasted with the clarity of Gandhi’s stand, who supported the Nagas in their bid for an independent ‘Naga area’: “If you do not wish to join the Indian Union . . . The Congress Government will not do that” (quoted in Venuh 2005: 67). There was discrepancy between the loosely articulated INC stand of no forced integration (maintained by its leader Gandhi) and the views put forward by those coming from other political background. Advancing the opinion of the then Assam Governor, Akbar Hydari, who was in charge of the Naga Hills, which would later go on to form Nagaland, regarding a separate solution for the Nagas in 1947, the British administrator Mildred Archer writes, They have got to come in. If they revolt; we shall shoot them up. It will be a pity but it will not be our fault; We couldn’t give Nagas residual Powers . . . A Naga Government is out of the question. (quoted in Franke 2006: 73) Although things were at a stalemate, the NNC entered into dialogue with the Governor of Assam, Hydari, and the ‘9-Point Agreement’ was drawn up in June 1947 that recognized the right of the NNC to run the affairs of the Nagas. The main bone of contention was point 9 – regarding the future of the Nagas. It was agreed that the governor of Assam would act as a special agent between the GOI and the Nagas for a period of ten years, after which the NNC would take a decision regarding the future of the Nagas. The Nagas thought that this clause would enable them to opt out of the union in ten years. This was denied by the GOI. As a symbolic protest to Indian hegemony, the Nagas declared independence on 14 August 1947. The declaration was signed by nine members of the NNC.

Moral geographies  151 In many ways, the year 1949 marked a crucial period for the GOI and the NNC. In 1949, the chief minister of Assam, Gopinath Bordoloi, informed the NNC that the GOI had never accepted the 9-Point Agreement. This was seen by the NNC as a betrayal, and it is at this juncture that the more moderate NNC members lost ground and a clear majority now wanted total and complete independence. A  plebiscite conducted by the NNC in 1950 was meant to echo this sentiment whereby it was recorded that 99.9 percent of the Nagas in the Naga Hills supported independence. This move was summarily ignored by the GOI. Zapuphizo met Nehru again in 1952, by which time the situation had worsened to the extent that the GOI was blaming the British for encouraging Naga independence (Franke 2006: 74; Jacobs 1998: 159). The years 1950–56 saw armed escalation on both sides. This was marked by the formation of the Federal Government of Nagaland (FGN) in 1956, the political wing of the NNC. Political strife started to emerge amongst the Nagas, with moderates arguing for negotiation and greater accommodation rather than the uncompromising status quo of complete independence. The result was the Naga People’s Convention under the pretext of Naga statehood. In 1963, the new state of Nagaland was inaugurated. The creation of statehood further legitimized the position of the GOI, which refused to retreat from their idea of national integration, only causing further divisions with the NNC. Armed insurrection continued between the NNC and the Indian military that had periodic recesses, but the military presence in Nagaland continued to build up, which remains a disturbing reality even today. The Indian military had accused of serious human rights violations, beginning with escalated armed conflict from around 1953. By 1956, 100, 000 Indian soldiers were deployed in the Naga Hills to suppress an elusive and tiny guerrilla force, casualties followed on both sides. Between 1956 and 1958, for example, the Minority Rights Group estimated that there were 1, 400 Naga deaths and 16 casualties in the Indian military (Maxwell 1973). In such events, casualties extended to both combatants and non-combatants. Although, such military excursions were undertaken with the aim of winning ‘hearts and minds’, and to help the Nagas feel that they belong to India, the pressure of the moment gave way to lapses of reason. The Indian military philosophy of ‘softening up’ the Nagas through sheer military action might have failed partly because of the length of the guerrilla conflict. The introduction of the 1958 Armed Forces Special Powers Act into Nagaland, already classified a ‘disturbed area’ in 1956, bestowed on the army unprecedented powers to stop, search and shoot to kill as necessary. This only fuelled mistrust and disdain of the Indian military. Translate this scenario on the ground and this is what you have: a blatant disregard for the Nagas. Kanwar Randip Singh, a former Indian officer, who served in the Naga Hills from 1953–57, says that none of the Indian officers bothered to mix with the Nagas to learn their way of life. “In fact, they considered these people as subhuman, filthy and not worth mixing . . . a big gap was created between the Nagas and the government after the British left” (quoted in Glancey 2011: 180). Another

152  Arkotong Longkumer view from John Bosco Jasokie, a former chief minister of Nagaland, interprets what these attitudes have meant for the Nagas: They [the plains people of Hindustan] believe that their way of life is the right way . . . [and] are not prepared to accept us as human beings and, therefore, it is easier for them to go out of all human decency in their dealings with us . . . they think that by harassing the people they have done a great service to India, but actually India lost the friendship of the people. (quoted in Glancey 2011: 181) On the other hand, the NNC guilty of destroying bridges and roads, kidnappings for extortion, targeted killing of fellow Naga moderates and forcible collection of ‘taxes’ and food grains for their forces. In fact, in 1968, in the famous battle of Jotsoma, there were considerable casualties on the Indian military side. The exact number eludes historical account, but one of the veterans of that battle Brig. Vedayi enthusiastically told the journalist Bertil Lintner, “I’m a good Christian. I don’t tell lies. We killed at least 1, 000 Indians!And our soldiers shouted ‘Praise the Lord!’ every time they fired their weapons” (Lintner 1990: 85). In the wake of the military operations in the region, the Peace Committee of Nagaland, consisting of eminent personalities, tried to bring the various parties to the peace table in 1964 at the initiative of the Council of Baptist Churches of Nagaland. Peace talks eventually collapsed in 1966 due to the uncompromising rival claims of territorial sovereignty and the NNC was banned by the GOI in 1972. With increased Indian military pressure and the uncertainty of Chinese influence on some of its cadres who went to China on a ‘goodwill mission’, the controversial ‘Shillong Accord’ was signed in Shillong on 11 November  1975 between the GOI and the FGN of Nagaland. This required the surrender and disarmament of the NNC and the de facto ‘official’ recognition of the Constitution of India. When the Nagas who went on the ‘goodwill mission’ to China heard about these events, they immediately denounced the NNC as traitors to the Naga cause and formed their own group known as the Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) under the leadership of Isak Swu, T. Muivah and S. S. Khaplang on 31 January 1980. Due to internal conflicts, and perhaps also personality clashes, Khaplang, a Naga from Burma, split from the NSCN in 1988 to form his own group (NSCN-K). The remaining group came to be known as the NSCN-IM, after their leaders, Isak Swu and T. Muivah. The latter is the most powerful group in the region. On 1 August 1997, 50 years since the conflict began, a ceasefire was signed between the GOI and the NSCN-IM, and political negotiation at the highest level was decided to be held in a third country. So far, the talks have included the main – but contentious – point of Nagalim (or ‘Greater Nagaland’) that includes Naga inhabited areas of Nagaland, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Burma. The aim of the NSCN-IM is that all Naga inhabited areas must be conjoined if any viable settlement is to be reached through the talks. Ceasefire agreements have also been signed with the NSCN-K and other Naga factions. It is worth

Moral geographies  153 reiterating that the present Nagalim (or Greater Nagaland) is an attempt to bring all the Nagas living in India and Burma under one political reality which is sought by the NSCN-IM.

10.3 Territorializing Christianity The period marking the beginnings of intense military operations and the resistance to it from 1947 to the 1970s witnessed a substantial rise in the scale of conversions to Baptist Christianity among the Nagas of Nagaland. Although the number of Christian conversions were nothing revelatory until 1941 (17.9% from a population of around 189, 641), a sharp rise in converts post-1941 has a different story to tell. By 1951, there was an increase to around 52.9%, followed by an additional increase of 30% in ten years. The increase in the Christian population is steady from then on, with 80.2% recorded in 1981 (Eaton 2000: 48). In 2001, the number rose to almost 95%, mainly comprising Baptists, Presbyterians, Roman Catholics and Pentecostals. Part of my argument is that there is a correlation between Christian conversion and progress in Naga nationalism, which is demonstrated not only by the statistical data but also by the performance and narratives of Christianity. One of the main reasons is that it provided the majority of Nagas with some internal cohesion and gave them a ‘moral authority’ that superseded parochial ‘tribal’ loyalties. Both would play their part on the international stage.

10.4 ‘Nagaland for Christ’: evangelical nationalism The idea that Christianity for the Nagas is an irreversible fact appears daily in the local press and even efforts to revive ‘Nagaland for Christ’ is a daily plebiscite. In 2009, the ‘Restore Nagaland for Christ Crusade’ was seen in one of Nagaland’s main town, Dimapur, organized by the United Christian Prayer Ministries. Thuingaleng Muivah, the general secretary of NSCN-IM, reiterates, in many instances, two central motifs: “Nagaland for Christ” and “the unique national rights of the Naga people” (often articulated as Urra Uvie [our land belongs to us]). Indeed, the tone of his voice on 24 June 2010 during his speech in Pughoboto in the Zeneboto district of Nagaland carries messianic undercurrent: “We [referring to himself and the Chairman Isak Swu] are united on two key foundations: 1) The will of Jehovah 2) Our land and the National Rights of the Naga people” (NSCN publication 2010: 36). Evangelisation and nationalism go hand in hand here. This is a point made assiduously by Paul Freston (2001; see also Thomas 2016). His focus is on the interaction between evangelicals and politics around the world that ties in specifically with the New Divinity theology of the nineteenth century American missions. He mentions four general characteristics that make this link explicit: conversionism (emphasis on revival), activism (emphasis on evangelical and missionary activity), biblicism (emphasis on the Bible without inerrancy) and

154  Arkotong Longkumer crucicentrism (emphasis on Christ’s sacrifice on the cross) (2001: 2). His assessment clearly places the Naga national movements (NNC and the NSCN factions) within this camp (2001: 85–92). In the early days of the NNC, gospel teams preached under armed guard and conducted many spiritual activities in their jungle camps. For example, the NNC refused to fight on Sundays due to the large number of pastors in their ranks. The UK newspaper Observer’s Gavin Young, in his book The Nagas: An Unknown War, offers us vignettes of his experience in the nationalist jungle camps in the 1960s. When the Naga platoon assigned to accompany him kneels down to pray, he remarks that it is akin to a “Cromwellian ingredient in the Naga struggle”. In the camp, over the officer’s mess were these words: “Praise God from whom all blessings flow, Praise him all creatures here below” (quoted in Glancey 2011: 183). The NNC even created a Naga flag with a rainbow intersecting a blue sky, a reference to God’s covenant with Noah in Genesis, symbolized here as God’s covenant with the Nagas. Similarly, when the Swedish journalist Bertil Lintner meets the NSCN at their headquarters in Burma, he recounts how every meeting would open with a prayer and Bible reading usually by Isak Swu (1990: 82). As a propaganda tool, the NSCN even claimed that the ‘Hindu government’ of India has adopted a policy of vegetarianism that will be enforced on the Nagas. The NSCN preached a puritanical lifestyle that banned alcohol and drugs, and discouraged sexual promiscuity. Schools and clinics were established that went hand in hand with Christian teachings (Horam 1988: 76–7). Biblical names such as Zion, Canaan or the NSCN-IM headquarter Hebron are used as camp names that signify the pervasiveness of Judeo-Christian symbols. It is the NSCN, and later the NSCN-IM, who made it their mission for a free Nagaland, explicitly Christian, a powerful evangelical motif. Their 1980 manifesto is perhaps the clearest sign of this. 1 Unquestionable rights of the Naga people over every inch of Nagaland. 2 Dictatorship of the people through the NSCN and practice of democracy as long as it is deemed necessary. 3 Faith in God and salvation of mankind through Jesus Christ. 4 Socialism and economic systems for the removal of exploitation and ensuring fair equality to all the people. 5 Rules out saving of Nagaland through peaceful means and pins its faith on arms to save the Nation and to ensure freedom to its people. (quoted in Glancey 2011: 188) The aforementioned represents an odd conflation of Maoist socialist ideology, Christian salvationism (‘Nagaland for Christ’) and armed insurrection followed by an appeal to democracy, but only as a stepping-stone to dictatorship of the people. However, it is that of Christian salvationism that has been the cornerstone for the NSCN-IM in their fight against the Indian state. They incorporate an almost prophetic vision of Nagalim that combines an evangelical and soteriological

Moral geographies  155 theology, and providence for the Naga nation through the Old Testament idea of ‘chosenness’. In the discussion so far, I have demonstrated that Christianity enables a move from ‘tribal’ loyalties to ‘national’ solidarity through the deconstruction of internal boundaries. However, internal factional feuds (sometimes along ‘tribal lines’) have erupted since the forming of the various nationalist groups, which has questioned the ‘universality’ of Naga nationhood: the Ao against the Angami, the Tanghkul against the Konyak and so on (see Sashinungla 2005). Muivah, in fact tells, Lintner that tribalism is a “malignant bacteria” affecting the solidarity of the Naga people (1986: 25). In this national, and modernist, vision, tribal loyalties are seen to disrupt the efficacy of one people, one nation. Is this attempt at a singular nation skewed with modernist (and socialist?) frames of reference? Does the existence of a nation always require “full consciousness” of all its members (Duara 1995)? Adrian Hastings suggests that it would be unreasonable to measure this participation from the vantage point of our contemporary mass-media society. For example, rightly or wrongly, black slaves in America were not included or offered to be part of the American nation in 1776, even though we acknowledge that date as axiomatic (Hastings 1997: 25–6). Nor did peasants in early modern Europe have any sense of being a part of it (Weber 1976). Does this mean that nations are any less real because the formation of identity is neither singular nor exclusive? Speaking about the Karen National Union’s vision of a Karen nation in Burma, Michael Gravers (1998) argues that differing views coming from Karens due to place (village, region, country), status (Christian, Animist, Buddhist) and situation influence the configuration of identification. He suggests that the Karen nation still exists regardless of these differences. In the Naga case, even nationalist and popular sentiments have splintered. Christianity as a common identity is also challenged by non-Christians like the Heraka movement, who deploy their resources against Naga Christianity but affirm Naga nationhood (Longkumer 2010). Outside historical forces have undoubtedly influenced the Nagas, but the Nagas have been active participants in the making of their own history regardless of these incongruities. Here we see the normalizing project of nationalist modernity disrupted by the fragmented resistances to that project (Chatterjee 1993: 13). Nevertheless, the dominant ideology of Christianity, alongside its visualization of nationhood, has informed much of the historical and contemporary discussions on Naga nationalism. The indigenous people’s movement and the focus on self-determination provides another avenue to explore notions of Naga sovereignty that questions the ideology, and sole authority, of Christianity to mobilize identities.

10.5 Recognition of difference: UN and indigenous peoples Another factor that decisively makes such a claim transnational  – the ‘moral’ weight to Naga self-determination – are those propounded by UN ideas of human rights. It works in favour of the Nagas due to its universal resonances, particularly that of self-determination and sovereignty based on indigenous people’s rights.

156  Arkotong Longkumer In her work amongst the Chiapas of Mexico, Heidi Moksnes highlights this very central point: Discourse about local suffering has become transformed into one about global injustice . . . For many Catholic villagers, therefore, the regulations of international bodies are the secular versions of the universal justice that they regard God as having proclaimed. In this fusion of the sacred/secular, the United Nations has here acquired a central role, perceived by villagers in Chiapas as the main international ally in the political struggle for grassroots justice. (2007: 603) Similarly, a vital element to nationalist motivations is the ‘moral’ idea of the rights of peoples – particularly on the right to self-determination – which constitutes the terms of struggle for people who have been denied political presence. The right to self-determination occurred under various guises. First, calls for self-governance occurred with the demise of the various European empires after World War II and gradually many subject nations, once under colonial domination, gained independence. If the disintegration of the empires and the collective self-governance of independent nation-states marked the beginning of some sort of high point in international relations, the growing number of national movements within national states claiming independence only complicates and questions such a picture. As discussed, in India alone the numbers astound. Second, if the ‘moral’ right to national self-determination has been one of the cornerstones for self-governance, it is also one of the most contentious issues facing many countries with a large indigenous population, including India. The current debate on self-determination implies a people’s right to decide its political status freely, including the right to secede. Indigenous activists contend that the fact that they are treated unequally to other people is a blatant disregard of international law (Muehlebach 2001: 439). In the light of this, are the worldviews and ambitions of the nation-state a helpful signifier to think about what it means to belong?What are some of the conceptual tools that enable people to reach beyond the territorial boundaries of national states and ‘imagine’ themselves as part and parcel of ‘universal’ ideas that are legitimate rights for claim?One way to think about these questions is centred on the notion of ‘sovereignty’ and what it means to be a people in a world system.

10.6 Sovereignty and its discontents In textbook definitions, sovereignty usually means that the sovereign – a person, organization, or institution – decides on all matters relating to lawful conduct and adjudicates on the legitimate use of coercion (Graham 2008: 13). Sovereignty as a political concept then is central to questions of authority. The state not only has the rightful authority but also the exercise of power. Thomas Hobbes (1588– 1679), the English political philosopher, articulated this position most effectively in his magnum opus, Leviathan. Hobbes argued that the main effects of

Moral geographies  157 producing sovereignty are the ordering of difference that secures and safeguards a ‘sovereign unit’. Through flattening and ordering time and space, sovereignty, for Hobbes, is a civic response to the divine authority of God. By bracketing religious authority, sovereignty as a political doctrine is made explicit (Shaw 2008: 37). For Hobbes, all people are capable of commonwealth (sovereignty) exemplified by progress, order, culture, art and science. This Hobbesian notion is very much centred on “ ‘man’ as a ‘knowing subject’ ”: “the subject (who knows with authority) and the sovereign state (who embodies/guarantees this authority) ” (Shaw 2008: 36). Whereas such Hobbesian conceptions can function within the confines of a national state (and perhaps only in Europe?), such an argument means that each nation is responsible for its sovereign actions. Internationalism, on the other hand, holds the view that “national actions are rightly subject to the wider international community, and thus that sovereignty does not ultimately lie with the nation-state” (Graham 2008: 13; italics in original). It is this latter view that holds much currency to recent debates on sovereignty because, as I will show, the moral weight of indigenous politics means that various claims spill into international waters, making traditional views of sovereignty tenuous, at the very least. I will argue that sovereignty is central to rethinking about the political status quo, particularly in relation to the state and its citizens. Part of my argument suggests that it is more fruitful to think beyond the state, not solely as a politicoterritorial entity, but as a ‘moral’ force that can legitimize certain claims about belonging. Karena Shaw makes a similar point when she suggests that the territorial state no longer provides the boundary for people’s identities, but that these are now expressed in different non-territorial defined spaces (2008: 4). This is partly due to globalization as a mobile force that continues to challenge the proliferation of claims beyond the cosy confines of regional or even national politics. The discourse surrounding indigenous people’s movements provides a glimpse to this phenomenon.

10.7 Indigenous peoples: a universal language? Much ink has been spilled regarding the question of indigenous peoples in India (Béteille 1998; Baviskar 2006; Karlsson 2001, 2006; Xaxa 1999) and elsewhere (Barnard 2006; Kingsbury 1998). To sum up the sentiments of one of its most keen observers, Over a very short period, the few decades since the early 1970s, ‘indigenous peoples’ has been transformed from a prosaic description without much significance in international law and politics, into a concept with considerable power as a basis for group mobilization, international standard setting, transnational networks and programmatic activity of intergovernmental and nongovernmental organizations. (Kingsbury 1998: 414)

158  Arkotong Longkumer Ironically, although the term ‘indigenous’ often assumes the power of locality to signify its importance, its origins were largely drawn up in global office blocks in Geneva and New York. In a unique way, the indigenous peoples’ movement is a transnational effort forged between local actors, international activists and organizations. It primarily involved the drafting of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, in partnership with the United Nations’ Working Group on Indigenous Populations (WGIP), and the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Populations, in the main UN hubs (Jung 2008: 10–11). In this sense, as Courtney Jung has argued, indigenous identity is both new and global, allowing millions of people to challenge the terms of their exclusion. It is not an accident of birth, but a political achievement (2008: 11). An achievement, in a sense that it not only challenges their exclusion, but also formulates a critique of the very institutions that propagate law, policies, and entitlements that are meant to include. Therefore, in some sense, it might be more fruitful to view indigenous identity as political identities, which “arises to contest the exclusions through which it has been constituted and to try to transform the terms of its political presence” (Jung 2008: 23). However, in India there are those who argue against the term and question its validity. B. K. Roy Burman (1992), leading the charge, argues that the term ‘indigenous peoples’ is an imposition by Western interests such as the World Bank and the WGIP. Andre Béteille, similarly, argues that its analytical vagueness over claims such as land, soil and territory must be understood in the context of “conquest, spoliation and usurpation” throughout history (Béteille 2006: 29). Therefore, sorting out who is ‘indigenous’ enters another difficult, and often dangerous, terrain with regard to the politics of place. Another sphere that is often muddled is the question of the interface between tribe/adivasi (or original settlers) and indigenous peoples (see Karlsson &Subba 2006). In India, for example, the term ‘tribe’ is being increasingly replaced with indigenous peoples, without any qualification. To be recognized as tribes – officially as ST – is attractive as it continues to provide positive discrimination in the form of quotas for jobs and education at a national level. On the other hand, the rights promulgated by the UN provide recognition (and publicity) for the cultural and land abuses carried out by the Indian state. The ‘moral’ sanction in the form of human rights abuses brings about some accountability and responsibility for national states towards indigenous peoples. Therefore, due to the proliferation of these ideas indigenous peoples are a ‘social fact’ in India (Baviskar 2006). Tribes/indigenous peoples are both used strategically.

10.8 Complicating indigeneity In the case of the Nagas, the claims to indigeneity are different from other communities within India, and it must be stressed that there isn’t a singular ‘indigenous’ platform that all ascribe to. Indeed, indigeneity is a difficult notion to explain in the Naga context because of its asymmetrical articulations of belonging. As I have already discussed the historical development and crystallization of the term ‘Naga’ was an outside imposition without a clear precedent. In some way, this taxonomy is

Moral geographies  159 still unclear when considering the politics of place. For example, during the Hornbill Festival in Nagaland, I was told by many Kachari, Garo and Kuki people living in Nagaland that although they are recognized ‘officially’ by the Government of Nagaland as ‘Naga’, the other Naga tribes do not give such recognition. For them [Kachari, Garo, Kuki] territorial indigeneity is the sole marker of Naga identity, not blood, language or customary practices. Although they have kin relations elsewhere: the Garo (in Meghalaya) ; the Kachari (in Assam); and the Kuki (in Assam/Manipur/Mizoram), they say they are Nagas and have nothing to do with their kin (although cultural ties are strongly maintained through marriage). When one Kuki lady said that they are not “Naga”, she was quickly reprimanded for her foolishness. The politics of the moment necessitates their inclusion into the Naga fold. (Longkumer 2013: 94) This is a point reiterated by a human rights activist but with caution. He said, We can’t impose this “Naganess” on people who don’t want to be Naga, but for people who also want to be considered as Nagas, we are there to give them room. But the fact is, by blood and history, just anybody cannot be Nagas. So that is also a fact. Both you and I know that the Kachari and Garo are not really Naga, it was more of a concession by the Government of Nagaland. This is a problem that remains unresolved primarily due to a certain perception of Naga identity related to common myths of origin and migration as discussed earlier. But what happens to those, such as Nepali immigrants, who have been in Nagaland since the time of the British?As a way forward to this impasse, a Naga informant said that ‘no identity is without boundaries. But boundaries need to be permeable in this global age and go beyond static identity formations’. In a way, this identity formation is a messy process, a paradox: it resists neat classification and resolution, while also policing its boundaries. However, such a possibility opens up space for the historicization of identity, as it is re-imagined in current contexts. Only time will tell how Naga identity will evolve. Naga delegates, primarily from the NSCN-IM, have been the most active ‘ethnic’ group in the WGIP since 1987 (Muehlebach 2001: 420). Although, they explicitly do not claim the indigenous people’s mantle, they assert that they are an independent nation fighting a war of resistance against the Indian and Burmese governments (Karlsson 2006: 58). In the light of this, their claims are primarily that of self-determination and national sovereignty as “an inalienable birth right” based on Article 3 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Indeed, the Naga case brings up a thorny issue with regard to indigenous peoples and whether self-determination equals ‘secessionism’. Isak Swu, the president of the NSCN-IM in these WGIP sessions in the early 1990s, argued for an ‘independent’ Naga nation, bringing about some anxiety within the WGIP, which explicitly promulgates the position that it is against the

160  Arkotong Longkumer break-up of existing nation-states (Karlsson 2006: 58). A seasoned human rights activist and a regular attendee to these UN meetings told me that although UN members are uncomfortable with the term ‘independence’, the facts have to be expressed: “We are not Indians and we have the right to self-determination”. Some of the anxiety has been mitigated by the change of focus for the Naga groups who now stress more on human rights violations and the ongoing peace process with the GOI and the subsequent impact this would have on any future political settlement. So what exactly is Naga sovereignty?

10.9 Naga sovereignty: god, land, people According to the Yehzabo (Constitution) of Nagaland, We, the people of Nagaland, solemnly acknowledge that the Sovereignty over the earth and the entire universe belongs to Almighty God alone, and the authority of the people to be exercised on the territory is a sacred trust from God, who sustained our forefathers, the national workers and our people through the years. (Fellowship of Naga Reconciliation document 2012) In a way, the uniqueness of Naga sovereignty has to do with the two-fold understanding of Christianity and indigenous politics that is woven into the texture of Naga national identity. While Christianity provides much ‘moral’ cohesion as I have already discussed, indigenous peoples’ rights connect with transnational systems bringing wider attention, participation, and responsibility. Both, though differently expressed, are concerned with the question of sovereignty and selfdetermination based on difference (Christianity) and recognition (UN). Above all, as my informants reminded me on several occasions, sovereignty in the Naga context is tied in with the ownership of land. “One is often confused with the term sovereignty” one of my informants said, “because we are still stuck with colonial and imperial notions of it”. Regardless of the different theories, he said, we need to acknowledge that sovereignty lies with the people. When I probed whether Christianity and sovereignty are intertwined as in the aforementioned Constitution, he said, You can talk about God granting sovereignty in a spiritual sense, but politically you cannot claim that. I’m not saying that there is a separation between Christianity and the political in our context: to say that Jesus Christ is our saviour is also a political statement. Sovereignty has to be rational – and we need to distinguish between the rational and the spiritual sphere. Some separation is required because once you co-opt Christianity for political ends – that is co-opting what is mystical for political gain – it is fanatical and irrational. Perhaps he is thinking about the sort of brash evangelical nationalism that I discussed earlier, which, as he argues, “has no particular place in our postmodern society”. He admonished the divinatory aspects of nationalism – from prayers,

Moral geographies  161 prophecies to dreams – that promise independence for a more reasoned, secular, and temporal approach. Instead of appealing to an overtly religious exclusivism, civic notions that appeal to human dignity, rights, and laws that can be documented, argued, and traced are proving to be more attractive for the Nagas. Without doubt, Christianity has historically shaped and influenced Naga nationhood, but the question is, can Christianity continue to provide that universalizing visualization of nationhood? Instead of co-opting Christianity as a blunt instrument for ideology, informants suggest a more ground-up approach that integrates local custom and sovereignty, without minimizing the influence of Christianity. Therefore, secular institutions like the UN provide a more legitimate basis precisely because it is ‘universal’ and not sectarian: it represents “grassroots justice” regardless of location (Moksnes 2007: 603). This secular version is more useful because it implies that sovereignty emerges from overlapping loyalties. First, it can reach to Nagas in different locations. Second, it allows Christians, non-Christians and non-Nagas to be encompassed in the identity. Third, assertion of UN ideas of human rights gives it a transnational and ‘moral’ weight which questions traditional forms of sovereignty. However, notions promulgated by the UN are actually not ‘secular’ in the strict sense because of the way indigenous peoples movements are utilizing the rhetoric of spirituality, where even ceremonial prayers have been used to open WGIP meetings (Muehlebach 2001: 426). In the Naga case, it is likely that Christianity – in its more liberal guise – has given way to a more inclusive, neutral ‘spiritual’ articulation of a Naga political identity that could be approved by the UN. The ambiguous terrain of the ‘spiritual’ is then more attractive because, in a sense, most indigenous peoples have some ‘spiritual’ connection with land, culture and community, regardless of religious affiliation. This kind of appeal to reviving an indigenous identity is not uncommon among indigenous peoples around the world, often couched in the language of “a spiritual revolution, a culturally rooted social movement that transforms the whole of society and a political action that seeks to remake the entire landscape of power and relationship to reflect truly a liberated post-imperial vision” (Alfred 2005: 27; emphasis in original). A human rights activist in Nagaland reiterated some of these points: Indigenous peoples in Asia and in Nagaland are trying to maximise these rights [UN indigenous peoples rights] and trying to implement them in our local communities. Alongside this, we are also writing our stories, reviving our customary ways of life within the Asian fora. We are also running workshops amongst communities as we are trying to re-energise the indigenous way of life as we work with different local actors. Various policymakers have acknowledged this revival, and Dalee Sambo Dorough from the Indian Law Resource Center has in fact addressed this point in one of the WGIP meetings. I quote it in full to highlight the important discussion: Narrower conceptions of the term peoples (and self-determination) are flawed in their limited vision of a world divided into mutually exclusive “sovereign”

162  Arkotong Longkumer territorial communities. This limited conception of peoples largely ignores the multiple, overlapping spheres of community, authority and interdependency that actually exist in the human experience. This vision corresponds with the traditional Western theoretical perspective that limits humanity to two perceptual categories – the individual and the state – and which views states according to a model of mutually exclusive spheres of territory, community and centralized authority. This conception obscures the human rights character of self-determination and diminishes self-determination values in a world that is in fact evolving differently from one concerned only with statehood categories. . . Properly understood, the principle of self-determination benefits groups, that is “peoples”, in the ordinary sense of the term throughout the spectrum of humanity’s complex web of interrelationships and loyalties, and not just peoples defined by existing or perceived sovereign boundaries. In a world of increasingly overlapping and integrated political spheres, self-determination concerns the Constitution and functioning of all levels and forms of governments. (quoted in Muehlebach 2001: 440) There are two issues with what Sambo Dorough proposes here with regard to the triangular notion of people, self-determination and sovereignty. First, it reframes the debate not in current forms of bounded groups, but calls for a more sophisticated rendering of people as mobile, relational and “their loyalties overlapping rather than defined by identities linked to bounded territories only” (Muehlebach 2001: 440). This view is particularly apt for the Nagas of India and Burma who have been historically divided into these two countries and into various states within. What the Nagas have been asking for is some form of overlapping sovereignty or ‘Greater Nagaland/Nagalim’ that not only emotionally binds people across state and national borders, but also seeks some sort of mechanical solidarity that enables the people to have a common system of governance and polity. This brings about the second issue. What Sambo Dorough proposes can be viewed as a very diffused and unstable phenomenon. It leaves uncertain which government has the final authority and, indeed, the power to enforce that authority, in contrast to ‘true sovereignty’, a point highlighted by Hobbes. Otherwise, there is a danger of perpetual prospect of conflict. In this sense, ‘overlapping sovereignty’ between different political structures is hard to correspond with some sort of ‘mechanical solidarity’ at this current juncture. Some of the overtures made by the Indian state signal a move to address these two issues (see the next section), but the question of what kind of authority that will supervise Naga sovereignty remains to be seen.

10.10 Rethinking sovereign power What the aforementioned clarion call requires is a rethinking of sovereignty that allows the Nagas and indigenous peoples to negotiate their place in the world, without it being automatically assigned. Deleuze and Guattari suggest that one

Moral geographies  163 way out of this quagmire is ‘rhizomatic’ thought. They argue that Western thought has been obsessed with the ‘arboreal’ image – that of a tree: a single trunk supporting many branches. This kind of thought, they argue, produces less multiplicity because it always returns to the original unity, reminiscent of the Hobbesian model. Rhizomatic thought on the other hand is “any point [that] can be connected to anything other, and must be. This is very different from the tree or root, which plots a point, fixes an order” (1987: 7). This sort of disruption provided by rhizomatic thought is not something that can be severed from arboreal thought, however. Both coexist in crucial ways because “there exist tree or root structure in rhizomes” (1987: 15). The point, however, for Deleuze and Guattari is to explore existing possibilities and to think differently, particularly when the arboreal structure of the state affects diverse actors. For Deleuze and Guattari, the recalcitrant peripheries of the state (such as the ‘primitive’ or non-state actors) always resist resonance to produce sovereignty. If one were to apply this logic to the Nagas as non-state actors, they represent the disruption of the normalizing project of the Indian state. Deflecting this state organizing resonance brings about an identity marked by difference (Shaw 2008: 166). If one looks at it from another angle, these positions ironically cannot be absolved primarily because the risk of gaining recognition from the state for the Nagas means foregoing their political aspirations and to be subject to the authority of the state. On the other hand, recognition by the state is “dependent upon the exclusion and marginalization of those who mark its edges, its failures” (Shaw 2008: 170). This is an important problem that Deleuze and Guattari are trying to highlight. The aim is not to attempt to find an inclusive, one size fits all, type of sovereignty but to “use its exclusions to demonstrate and reshape its very limits” (Shaw 2008: 174). In a way, the power of resonance will always create resistance. What this discussion points to, for our purposes, is to realize that the arboreal structure of the modern nation-states are constructed around the cumulative tradition of Western political theory, which requires that conflict be resolved through the framework of governance and the Constitution. Although marked by these debates, we need to extend beyond to rethink sovereignty through indigenous frameworks that usher in the possibility of hope. Recently, it is alleged, the Indian state has offered to establish a ‘supra-state body’ as the final political resolution to the protracted conflict with the Nagas. Its proposal to incorporate all Naga inhabited areas of Assam, Nagaland, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh, first of all recognizes the ‘distinct identity’ of the Nagas and ensures the protection of the rights of Nagas who will oversee the ‘cultural, traditional and other aspects of Naga life’. Such a position has been advocated by scholars such as N. K. Das (2011). He suggests a non-territorial model of Naga sovereignty within the existing (and flexible) Indian Constitution, akin to the Sami autonomy pact that gives them powers (in the form of parliaments) in three European states – Norway, Sweden, Finland – to determine their own traditional livelihoods, make decisions on development, teach the Sami language and obtain social and health services. Roy Burman, an Indian anthropologist, has called this process “internal self-determination” (that provides non-territorial jurisdiction with legislative, administrative, judicial and

164  Arkotong Longkumer developmental powers to the Nagas). Although this does not guarantee independence, it nevertheless has elements of “external self-determination” (Das 2011: 76) that is similar to some sort of overlapping sovereignty that gives recognition and power to the Nagas across far flung places. This is the kind of sovereignty that I suspect will have more currency in the current political climate. Such a view however has been mooted by the existing states; they see this as an attempt by the Indian state to break up its existing territories for some form of Naga irredentism that will erode centuries of common histories between different communities. Others, like the NNC, recently stated that they do not share these ‘supra-state’ designs. Their position is more of a traditional form of sovereignty that demands complete territorial independence. The NNC secretary L. Kaiso said in a press release in November 2012, “Having brought various Naga regional units together into one federated union on March  22, 1956, the integration of Nagaland and the formation of the Federal Government of Nagaland (FGN) was completed”. Different views are articulated, which is why civic groups like the Fellowship of Naga Reconciliation are attempting to shape a common platform for Naga sovereignty. What I am suggesting in this chapter is that there are possibilities to rework notions of sovereignty, such as the aforementioned points by Das and the indigenous peoples’ movements. As I have discussed, ideas of sovereignty are complex, fluid and in the process of becoming – that also give rise to internal incongruities – rather than a final given product that is borne out of history, culture and religious belonging. It calls for specific local formations dependent on the time and place.

10.11 Conclusion: towards a ‘moral geography’ Nationalism historically has relied on the political and geographical territories marked by the nation-state (see also Chatterjee 1993). This chapter has, however, emphasized how the moral idea of geography through Christian and indigenous peoples’ rights has shaped the Nagas’ understanding of belonging. To this effect, Christianity has provided an important narrative. First, Christianity brought about a parallel nation-building project linking the Nagas with the forces of colonialism and modernity in a distinct fashion. Although they were incorporated into the Indian state upon Britain’s departure, they nevertheless asserted their difference: that the making of a Naga nation did not share the consciousness of being an ‘Indian’. Second, the representation of a territory which Sack argues must communicate a sign or marker of identity is articulated in the iconic representation of ‘Nagaland for Christ’. It depicts a cartographic national space that is visualized as inherently Christian, as a beacon of gospel light. Third, the primordial right to a nation, which is resolutely eternal and natural is inseparable from land, national identity and sovereignty, is premised on the Bible. Quoting Acts 17: 26 from the New Testament, Kaka Iralu says, “And he (God) made from one (Adam) every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation”. For him, the Indo-Naga conflict is understood as a spiritual war that

Moral geographies  165 is “a result of India’s violation of these universal laws with respect to Nagaland” (2000: 1–2). Therefore, it is important to note that spirituality can often lay claim to the material landscapes, and it is precisely this spirituality that makes such claims more powerful. Through transnational links with organizations like the UN, the Nagas are involved in articulating a form of sovereignty that requires a rethink of the role of the nation-state as the sole arbiter of legitimacy and authority. Much of this understanding derives from the Hobbesian model of a strong national state that has the authority to shape a singular identity. However, this definition is unhelpful for a number of reasons but chief among them is the understanding of nations within nation-states prevalent in the global situation today. Indeed, with the emphasis being placed on indigenous peoples’ sovereignty, we begin to consider how a nation might be defined, and this has more to do with a sense of belonging. Combining these two registers is useful in the Naga context but not without its own complications. It is still unclear how territorially indigenous Nagas can be fully recognized as ‘Naga’ if the criterion for belonging is still common migration stories, creation myths and questions over authenticity based on blood. Further still, the question over non-Christians is another problem that cannot be resolved if Christianity is viewed as axiomatic with ethnic identity. Part of this shift, as I have discussed, revolves around the notion of a secular Naga identity that is cautious about its evangelical and ideological strands of Christianity, while appealing more to reason and temporality based on human dignity and inclusion. If this is the manner in which Naga sovereignty were to progress, it would automatically incorporate a plural constellation of people regardless of religious belonging. There is evidence to suggest that this is a possibility that is open to discussion amongst many of the informants that I interacted with. Finally, not only is it the case that defining the Naga nation along physical territorial lines is insufficient, but it is only by considering the ‘moral geography’ or their sense of belonging that we can understand properly the way in which this nation could be defined as territoriality, as the organization of space. Seeking legitimation and recognition through different rights accorded by the UN provides an avenue for further thinking about the limits and disruptions of the nation-state, not only in India but elsewhere.

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Adivasi(s) 3, 11, 125 – 6, 129 – 32, 134, 158 Adivasi Cobra Force 129 Ahmedabad 4, 7, 30, 32 – 4, 36 – 7, 43 – 4, 46 – 8, 60, 61, 66 Ahmedabad Municipal(ity) Corporation 4, 30 All Bodoland Minority Students’ Union (ABMSU) 130, 131 All Bodo Students’ Union (ABSU) 128, 130 All Gujarat General Labour Association38 Ambedkar, B. R. 88, 89, 92, 95, 96 Amteka125, 129 Andhra Pradesh 108 Angami 136, 141, 143, 155 Anna Hazare movement 19 anti-immigrant see immigrant anti-Muslim 13, 55, 59, 60, 64, 66 Ao(s) 141, 143, 155 Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) 145, 151 Arunachal Pradesh 152, 163 Aryan 5, 6, 111, 112; Aryandom 112; Aryanization 112, 116; non-Aryan 5–6, 111; pre-Aryan 5, 111 Arzal(s) 5, 102 Assam 6, 63, 125 – 31, 134, 142, 148, 150, 151, 152, 159, 163 atrocity(ies) 2, 59, 81, 133 attributional theories 1 autonomy 54, 126 – 7, 134, 150; cultural 54; regional 6; religious 88; Sami Autonomy Pact 163 Ayodhya 57, 59 backward caste(s) see caste(s) backward class(es)see class(es) Bajadar 105, 107 Balidan 115, 119, 121 Bandh (general strike) 59, 128, 130 Bangladesh 56, 133, 138, 148

Bangladesh Liberation War 108 Baptist 143 – 5, 152 – 3 Barpeta 129 Bhadra: fort 37; Kali temple 37 – 9; market 4, 32, 36 – 8, 39, 41 – 3, 48 Bhakti movement 88, 93 Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) 57, 59, 64, 65 – 6 Bhutan 125 – 6, 148 Bible 143, 147, 153, 154, 164 Bihar 2, 38, 63, 66, 102, 105, 107, 108, 114, 126, 137, 145 Bodo 6, 7, 125, 126, 128 – 35; non-Bodo 6, 129, 130, 131, 133, 135; Non-Bodo Protection Forum 130 Bodo Autonomous Council (BAC) 128 Bodo community see community Bodojaan 120 Bodoland 6, 125 – 8, 130 – 2, 134 Bodoland Territorial Area Districts (BTAD) 125 Bodo Liberation Tigers (BLT) 129 Bodo People’s Front (BPF) 131 Bodo People’s Progressive Front (BPPF) 131 Bodo Security Force (BdSF) 129 Bodo Territorial Council (BTC) 129 Bombay Provincial Municipal Corporation Act 33 Bongaigaon 125, 129 boundary 79, 89, 130, 157 BPL card 60, 61 Brahmanical gods 6, 111, 118 Brahmanical rituals 6, 121 Brahmanism 112, 115, 117 Brahmin(s) 2, 16, 75, 105, 113, 120, 121 Buddhism 5, 88 – 90, 92, 97, 99, 111 Buddhist 5, 88 – 100, 107, 144, 155 Buddhist Dalits 5, 88, 89, 90, 91, 93, 96 – 100

170 Index Buddhist Society of India 89, 91, 92; Neo-Buddhist 89 Burma (Myanmar) 139, 148, 152 – 5, 162 Calvinism 144 capital 11, 13, 14, 20, 22, 24, 25; corporate 13, 14; global 24, 25, 48; human 26; non-corporate 14, 22; urban 136 capitalist 13, 139 capitalist expansion 6, 136 caste(s) 1 – 3, 7, 15, 16, 20, 30, 54, 73 – 6, 78, 79, 81, 84, 85, 88 – 92, 94, 98, 99, 103 – 8, 111 – 15, 118, 120, 121; backward 2, 108, 109; caste-quota system 19; conflict 2; dominant 82; higher 16, 77 – 9; Indian caste system 1, 2, 73, 88, 93, 104, 106, 107, 112; low(er) 5, 7, 12, 15, 79, 112 – 14, 119 – 21; outcaste(s) 2, 5, 78, 81, 102 – 5, 107 – 9, 111, 114; patidar 1; scheduled 4, 127, sub-caste 2; twice-born 114; upper 5, 6, 57, 74, 83, 84, 111, 120 Central Armed Force 6 Chamar 5, 88, 89, 90 – 4, 99, 105 Cherie 78 – 81 China 20, 22, 26, 53, 139, 148, 152 Chipko movement 19 Chitrakar 105, 107 Christian community see community Christianity 7, 83, 84, 100, 107, 138, 142, 147, 148, 153, 155, 160, 161, 163 – 5 Christian salvationalism 154 Church 7, 77 – 82, 84, 136, 138, 143, 144, 145, 152 class(es) 3, 7, 15, 20, 21, 22, 26, 27, 30, 48, 106, 109, 114; backward 2, 55, 107, 127; dominant 13; lower 15, 30, 37; middle 4, 11, 19, 21, 22, 30, 31, 32, 132, 137; (National) Backward Classes Commission 107, 108; upper middle 41 commensality 5, 75, 76 communal feast 6, 117, 121 communal violence 54 community 7, 20, 44, 53, 54, 57, 73 – 8, 81, 83, 85, 103, 107, 120, 131, 137, 138, 144, 147, 157, 161, 162; Bodo 131, 134; Christian 77, 80, 143; Dalit 73, 75, 78, 79, 81, 82, 84, 89; Dalit-Christian 73, 74, 79, 80, 84, 85; Hindu 105; (Hindu) Devi Pujak 38, 44; local 15; Muslim 4, 54, 56, 62, 64, 102 – 9; religious 137; Sindhi 44; untouchable 74; village 79, 85 consociational theory 54 – 5 continuity 14, 90, 97, 98, 99

conversion(ism) 5, 83, 88 – 91, 97, 99 – 100, 144, 153 cultural autonomy see autonomy customary law 6, 7, 136, 137 Dai 105, 107 Dalit 1, 2, 5, 11, 14, 73, 74, 75 – 85, 88 – 100, 107 – 8; Buddhist-Dalit see community; Dalit Christian 5, 73 – 85; Dalit Christian community see community; Muslim Dalit see Muslim(s) democracy 1, 3, 7, 11 – 15, 18, 19, 23, 25, 26, 53 – 5, 64, 66, 136, 138 – 40, 144, 154; development democracy 3, 12, 13, 15, 25, 26, 27 development 3, 4, 6, 11 – 15, 19, 20, 22, 24 – 6, 37, 57, 60, 65, 66, 132, 136, 139 – 42, 152, 158, 163, 164; authoritarianism 26; development(al) planning 5, 37; development(al) programme 2; development projects 3, 132 – 4; economic 3, 4, 11, 12 – 14, 20, 22, 24 – 6, 132, 134, 139; human 24; rural 132; social 24; tourism 132; urban 35, 37, 137 Devendra Kula Vellalars 2 Dharma 6, 111, 113 – 21 Dharmamangal 112, 113, 117, 121 Dharmamangalkavya 117 Dharmapuja 111, 113 – 15, 117 – 21 Dharmasutra 112 Dharmathakur 5, 6, 7, 111 – 21 Dharma Vandana 113 Dhunia 103, 107 Dimapur 153 discontinuity 89, 90, 97 – 9 discrimination(s) 2, 24, 78, 93, 107, 158 disparity 13, 22, 63, 102 diversity 3, 22, 25, 54 Dom 112, 113, 119, 120, 121 dominant caste see caste(s) dominant class see class(es) economic development see development economic liberalization 15, 30, 32, 33, 139 education 4, 18, 21, 23, 24, 26, 33, 38, 57, 60 – 3, 102, 107, 108, 134, 143, 158 egalitarianism 90, 92, 99, 119 election 15 – 19, 53, 57, 58, 59, 60, 65, 66, 102, 137, 131, 143 electoral politics 5, 18 elite 3, 11, 15, 20, 62, 100, 132, 139 employment 4, 5, 18, 21, 23, 24, 33, 38, 49, 57, 59, 62, 63, 133, 137, 145

Index  171 endogamous marriage see marriage ethnicity 2, 3, 6, 7, 53, 54, 55, 64, 66, 125, 135, 138, 148, 149, 165 Evangelism 138, 143, 144 eviction 4, 36, 37, 125 exclusion 1 – 7, 11, 12, 24, 25, 30, 31, 35, 36, 48, 53 – 5, 61, 63, 79, 81, 89, 102 – 8, 114, 123, 147, 158, 163 excommunication 75 – 7 Federal Government of Nagaland (FGN) 151, 152, 164 Fellowship of Naga Reconciliation (FNR) 160, 164 forest 19, 20, 23, 24, 25, 125 – 34 Gandhi, Indira 54 Gandhi, M. K. 19, 56 Garib Kalyan Mela 61 Garo 159 gated society 48 gender 15, 20, 40, 42, 46, 80, 81 ghetto colony 64 ghettoization 62 global capital see capital globalization 3, 4, 13, 18, 30, 31, 157 Godhra incident 59, 65 Gossaigaon 131, 133 government 5, 12 – 15, 17 – 21, 23, 24, 26, 27, 30, 33, 35, 42, 48, 54, 56, 58 – 66, 102, 103, 107, 108, 127 – 30, 135,  138, 140 – 51, 154, 159, 162, 164; Government of India (GOI) 4, 128, 129, 132, 141, 145, 150 – 2, 154, 160; Government of the People’s Republic of Nagalim (GPRN) 141; Gujarat State Government 4, 65; Hindu 154; Left Front Government 102; local 3, 11, 23 Gujarat 1, 3, 4, 7, 13, 30, 32 – 4, 38, 48, 54 – 8, 60 – 5, 108 Gujarat carnage 54 – 8, 65 Gujarati(s) 4, 53, 62, 63 Gujarati Muslim see Muslim(s) Gujarat State Government see government Gujari Bazar (market) 4, 32, 37, 43 – 6, 48 Hawari 107 Hazzam 105, 107 hierarchy 7, 21, 27, 78 – 80, 82, 103, 104 – 7, 111, 112, 121, 149 higher caste see caste(s) Hindi Belt 2 Hindu 5 – 7, 13, 25, 28, 54 – 9, 61 – 2, 64 – 6, 76 – 8, 80 – 4, 85, 88, 89, 90 – 7, 99, 100, 103 – 9, 111, 113, 114, 144, 147, 154

Hindu community see community Hindu Devi Pujak 38 (Hindu) Devi Pujak community see community Hindu government see government Hinduism 85, 89, 90, 97, 99, 105, 114, 121 history 3, 6, 14, 24, 34, 36, 48, 56, 57, 73, 83, 84, 112, 114, 121, 143, 145, 155, 158, 159, 164 Hornbill Festival 159 human capital see capital human development see development human right(s) 3, 53, 147, 151, 155, 158, 159, 160, 161, 162 Hyderabad 125 hypergamy 1 identity(ies) 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 32, 44, 57, 73, 74 – 9, 81 – 6, 90, 92, 97, 98, 111, 114, 121, 138, 148, 149, 155, 158 – 61, 163 – 5 immigrant 13, 104, 125, 126, 127, 133, 159; anti-immigrant 7, 136 impurity 81, 82, 112 inclusion 1 – 5, 11, 12, 25, 30, 31, 33, 35 – 7, 48, 49, 53, 89, 102 – 3, 107 – 9, 159, 165 Indian caste system see caste(s) Indian culture 3 Indian National Congress (the Congress) 56 – 8, 62, 65, 127, 131, 134, 139, 150 Indian politics 3, 12, 17, 19, 55 indigeneity 158, 159 indigenous 5, 6, 7, 111, 112, 114, 121, 125, 127, 128, 134, 147, 148, 155 – 65 inequality 3, 12, 22, 27, 79 informal sector 4, 21, 23, 26, 27, 30, 32 – 4 Inner Line Permit 140 Inner Line Regulation 137 interactional theory 1 inter-marriage see marriage internally displaced persons (IDPs) 60, 129, 131 internationalism see nationalism Janata Dal 66 Jatav(s) 5, 88, 89 Jats 3, 91, 92 Jinnah, M. A. 56 Jola(ha) 105 – 7 JP movement 19, 55 judicial system 64 – 6 Kachari 125, 126, 159 Karnataka 63, 108 Karva-Chauth 96, 97

172 Index Kasai-qurashi 107 Kashmir 59, 148 Kerala 63, 65, 102, 108 Khasi 141 kinship 7, 75 – 7, 136 – 8 Kohima 137, 145, 149 Kokrajhar 125, 129 – 32 Kolu 103 – 5 Konyak 141, 155 Kuki 159 Kuti 103 – 5 labour(ed) 6, 7, 24, 38, 112, 136, 137, 138, 139, 140, 149 labour corps 149 labourer(s) 6, 7, 30, 33, 89, 99, 126, 136, 137, 138, 140 labour laws 6, 136 labour market 21 labour union 34 Laloo Prasad Yadav 65 land grabbing 6 Left Front Government see government legitimacy 53, 89, 165 liberalization 3, 4, 15, 30, 32, 33, 139 Line System 127 liquor 115, 116, 117 local community see community local government see government locatedness 73 – 5, 78 – 80 Lok Sabha 15 – 17, 58, 60, 65 Lotha 143 ‘Love Jihad’ campaign 66 Madhya Pradesh 2 Mahabharata 112 Mahar 77, 100 Maharashtra 13, 63, 88 majority 21, 53, 54, 60, 64 – 6, 90, 112, 130, 131, 133, 138, 143, 144, 151, 153 Mandal Commission 102, 107 Manek Chowk 34, 36, 37, 38, 40, 41 Manipur 108, 141, 142, 148, 149, 152, 159, 163 Maoist movement 24, 25, 148, 154 marginal 21, 144 marginalize(d) 4 – 6, 12, 13, 17, 24, 25, 75, 80, 90, 116, 119, 120, 126, 144, 163 market(s) 3, 4, 11, 13 – 15, 18, 21, 24, 25, 26, 32, 35 – 8, 41, 43, 48, 119, 137 market economies 11 – 15, 18, 20, 139 marketization 11, 23, 25 marriage 1, 95, 159; endogamous 103; inter-marriage 76, 80 Meerut 91

Methodist 143 middle class see class(es) migrant(s) 4, 6, 7, 129, 133, 134, 138, 140, 144; labour(ers) 6, 7, 33, 127, 136 – 8, 140; workers 137, 140, 142, 143 minority(ies) 1 – 5, 7, 11 – 13, 15, 53 – 6, 61 – 6, 88, 90, 108, 130, 131, 151 Mizo(s) 141 Mizoram 159 mosque 104, 105, 107, 130, 132 multi-ethnic nation-state see ethnicity Munda 125, 126 municipality 33 – 6, 38 Muslim(s) 4 – 7, 38, 54 – 7, 59 – 65, 91, 92, 102 – 9, 113, 114, 125 – 7, 129, 130 – 4, 155 Muslim community see community Muslim Dalits 5, 107 Muslim League 56, 127 Muslim menace 59 Muslim Protection Tiger Force 133 Muzaffarnagar 91, 94 myth 84, 148, 159, 165 Naga(s) 7, 136 – 7, 138, 140 – 4, 147 – 55, 158 – 65 Nagaland 6, 7, 136 – 8, 140 – 54, 159 – 65 Nagaland Baptist Church Council 143, 144 ‘Nagaland for Christ’ 153, 154, 164 Nagalim 140, 141, 152 – 4, 162 Naga National Council (NNC) 140 – 2, 144, 150 – 4 Naga National Council Accordists (NNC-A) 140, 141 Naga National Council Non-Accordists (NNC-NA) 140 Naga nationalism 7, 136, 137, 153, 155 Naga nationalist politics 138 Naga People’s Convention (NPC) 151 name calling 5, 82 Narendra Modi (Modi) 59 – 62, 64 – 6 (National) Backward Classes Commission see class(es) National Democratic Alliance 58 National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) 131 nationalism 7, 18, 136, 153, 155, 160, 164 National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) 23, 137, 139 National Socialist Council of Nagalim-Isak Muviah (NSCN-IM) 140, 141, 152 – 4, 159 National Socialist Council of Nagalim-­ Kaplan (NSCN-K) 140 – 2, 152

Index  173 National Socialist Council of NagalimKhole Kitori (NSCN-KK) 141 National Socialist Council of NagalimUnification (NSCN-U) 141 nation state 7, 11, 13, 53 – 6, 66, 138, 142, 144, 148, 156, 157, 160, 163 – 5 Nehru, Jawaharlal 54, 150 Neo-Buddhist see Buddhist Nepali(s) 125, 129, 159 Nikhari 105, 107 non-governmental organization (NGO) 3, 4, 11, 12, 19, 30, 32, 60, 64, 157 North-East India 3, 6, 7, 125, 140, 147 – 50 Oor 78, 79 Oraon 125, 126 othering 6, 74 otherness 74 outcaste(s) see caste(s) Pahadiya Muslims see Muslim(s) Pakistan 56, 58, 59, 60, 108 Panchayat 23, 145 Parayar 2 partition 54 – 6, 108 Patidar 1, 3, 107 Plains Tribal Council of Assam (PTCA) 127, 128 Pocock D. F. 1 pollution 77 – 9, 81, 90 Pondicherry 108 post-colonialism 148 post-Partition 4 poverty 4, 12, 14, 21 – 3, 35, 57, 60, 61, 139 poverty index 57 poverty line 4, 21, 57 practice(s) 2, 4 – 7, 31, 55, 66, 75, 81 – 4, 88, 89 – 94, 97, 99, 100, 103, 104, 111, 114 – 17, 121, 138, 148, 154, 159 Prematric Scholarship Scheme for Minorities 62 Presbyterian 153 Protected Area Permit 140 Protestant 138, 144 proximity 80, 137 public sector 5, 13, 102, 108 public sphere 4, 20, 25, 26, 48 Puja 94, 96, 115 – 21 Purana 112, 113 purity 78, 81 Rajasthan 2, 3, 38, 47 Ranganath Mishra Commission 102, 109 Ravidas 5, 88, 90, 91, 93, 94, 99

Ravidas Jayanti 93, 99 regional autonomy see autonomy religion(s) 2, 3, 5, 19, 20, 56, 73, 81, 84, 89, 90, 92, 99, 100, 106, 112, 114, 117 – 19, 142, 143; Brahmanical 112, 114, 116, 119; dominant 114; tribal 116 religious autonomy see autonomy religious identity 57, 83 religious riots 54 – 9 religious violence 57 reservation 3, 5, 107, 108, 109 reservation system 23, 88 rhizomatic thought 163 ritual 5, 6, 78, 80, 84, 85, 88, 89, 90 – 2, 94 – 7, 112 – 17, 118, 120, 121, 144 (Roman) Catholic 143, 153 Sachar (Committee) 4, 5, 56, 57, 60, 61, 63, 102, 109 sacrifice 112, 114, 115, 117, 118, 119, 120, 121, 154 Sami Autonomy Pact see autonomy Sang(h) Parivar 66 Sanskritization 111, 115, 120 – 2 Sant 88, 93 Santhal 125, 126 scrap collector 44, 48 Second Bodo Accord 129, 131, 132, 133, 134 secularism 54, 56, 57 security 23, 24, 56, 88, 129, 137, 140, 141, 148 self-determination 147, 149, 150, 155, 156, 159, 160, 161, 162, 163, 164 Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) 4, 30, 34, 35, 36 service sector 4, 20, 21, 33 Seventh Day Adventist 143 Shillong Accord 140, 152 Sikh 56, 107 Sindhi community see community Singh, Manmohan 65 social development see development South India 5, 81, 83 sovereignty 7, 147, 148, 152, 155 – 7, 160 – 5 stall 4, 32, 35, 37 – 9, 41, 43, 44, 48 state 1 – 7, 11, 12 – 20, 24, 26, 30 – 5, 44, 48, 53 – 5, 59 – 66, 102, 103, 107 – 9, 111, 112, 119, 120, 125, 126, 128 – 32, 135 , 148, 149, 153, 154, 156 – 7, 160, 162, 163 – 5 statehood 151, 162 street(s) 7, 30, 31 – 6, 38, 41, 44, 48, 49, 76, 78

174 Index street stalls see street(s) street vending 30, 32 – 5, 38 street vendor(s) 4, 7, 30 – 8, 40 – 9 subaltern(s) 3, 4, 6, 11, 12, 111, 113, 114, 119, 121 subalternity 5, 11 sub-caste see caste(s) Sumi 141, 143 Supreme Court 34, 62, 64, 65 syncretism 5 syncretistic 96 syncretistically 89, 90, 94, 97, 99, 100 Tamil Nadu 2, 63, 65, 79, 82, 84, 90, 108 Tanghkul 141, 155 technocracy 13 technological 20 technology(ies) 11, 22, 25 teknonymy 76 territorial 3, 55, 148, 152, 156, 157, 159, 162, 164, 165 territoriality 2, 147, 148, 165 Thevars 2 tourism development see development Transit Peace Camp 140 tribal belt 126, 127 tribal council 127, 141, 144 tribalism 141, 142, 155 Tribal League 127 tribe(s) 114, 116, 126, 127, 141, 143, 149, 158, 159 U. G. Banerjee Commission 65 United Christian Prayer Ministries (UCPM) 153 United Nations 147, 156, 158 United Nations’ Working Group on Indigenous People (WGIP) 158

universal adult franchise 1, 5 untouchable 5, 74, 81, 88, 89, 103, 120 untouchable community see community upper caste see caste(s) upper middle class see class(es) urban 4, 31, 32, 33, 57, 60, 61, 143 urban capital see capital urban development see development urbanization 137, 138 urbanized 21 urban planning 30, 32, 48, 49 urban poor 3, 14, 31 urban street(s) see street(s) Uttar Pradesh (UP) 2, 3, 38, 63, 65, 88, 89, 102, 126; western Uttar Pradesh 5, 89, 91 Vanniyars 2 Vedic 111, 112, 121 village community see community violence 2, 54, 57, 58, 81, 82, 125, 127, 129 – 35, 138, 144 Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) 59 washerman (Dhobi) 104 welfare 4, 7, 61, 62, 130, 132, 136, 137, 138, 142 West Bengal 5, 7, 63, 102, 104, 105, 107 – 9, 111, 114, 119, 142 women 1, 3, 4, 11, 12, 33, 35, 41, 45, 48, 59, 77, 80 – 2, 115, 116, 120, 121, 144, 145 World Heritage City 37, 43 worship 5, 6, 7, 80, 111 – 21, 144 Zeliang 141