In the backdrop of India’s historic economic transformation spurred by the 1991 LPG (Liberalization, Privatization, Globalization) reforms, and the persistent occurrence of communal and ethnic violence, it is imperative to examine the impact of these changes on ethnic identity and communalism in the country.

Main Body:

Impact on Ethnic Identity:

Development in Backward Regions: The LPG reforms have catalyzed development in historically marginalized areas, such as the resource-rich tribal regions of Jharkhand and Odisha.

Economic and Employment Opportunities: Privatization and industrial growth have created economic opportunities for the tribal population, providing jobs and boosting local economies.
Individual Tribals’ Advantages: Some individual tribals have benefitted from the privatization of tribal hill areas through entrepreneurship and business ventures.

Land Alienation: The major cause of tribal conflicts has been land alienation and capture by industries, leading to displacement.
Income Inequality: These reforms have exacerbated income inequality, with disproportionate benefits accrued by certain segments of the population.
Displacement: In the name of development, many tribals have been forcibly displaced from their ancestral lands, affecting their cultural identity.
Land as Identity: Land is not merely a commodity but a core aspect of tribal identity, and its deprivation is equivalent to a loss of livelihood.
Social Disruption: The loss of social life and cultural traditions cannot be adequately compensated with material benefits, causing a sense of alienation.
Disproportionate Displacement: Despite constituting only 8% of the total population, tribals account for 40% of those displaced due to development projects.

Access to Quality Education and Services:
Improved Access: Economic development has resulted in better access to resources, education, and healthcare services in previously inaccessible hilly regions.
Unequal Access: Discrimination and prejudices continue to hinder equal access to quality education and services for ethnic minorities.

Political Mobilization:
Better Representation: These changes have enabled better political representation for ethnic minorities, offering avenues for grievance redress and participation in policy formulation.
Vote Bank Politics: Vote bank politics in some regions has translated the instability of the northeast into conflicts, and the easy availability of weapons has added violence to disputes.

Impact on Communalism:

Economic Development and Inclusivity:
Access to Education and Employment: Economic development has opened doors for education and employment opportunities, notably in the IT industry, promoting inclusivity.
Informal Workforce: The informalization of the workforce and unequal benefits have resulted in high unemployment rates among religious minorities.

Urbanization and Migration:
Better Quality of Life: Urbanization has offered a better quality of life and access to essential services, fostering social mobility.
Overcrowded Slums: Rapid urbanization has led to overcrowded slums, particularly among religious minorities, exemplified by Mumbai’s Dharavi.

Political Mobilization:
Representation and Participation: Communal groups have been able to participate in demand-based politics and have a voice in governance.
Radicalization and Unrest: In some cases, political mobilization has led to radicalization, social unrest, and communal violence, causing damage to the social fabric.

Government Initiatives:

Eklavya Schools: Government-initiated Eklavya schools aim to improve the educational opportunities for tribal communities.
Forest Rights Act: The Forest Rights Act has been enacted to recognize and protect the rights of tribal communities over forest resources.
Pradhan Mantri Virasat Ka Samvardhan (PM VIKAS): This scheme promotes the development of tribal areas while preserving their cultural heritage.
Maulana Azad National Fellowship (MANF) Scheme: This scheme provides financial assistance to students from minority communities pursuing higher education.


The multifaceted impact of economic reforms and communal violence on ethnic identity and communalism underscores the complexity of India’s socio-political landscape.
Government initiatives like Eklavya schools, the Forest Rights Act, PM VIKAS, and the MANF scheme represent steps towards addressing these issues.
As we reflect on the journey of India’s tribal and minority communities, it is essential to uphold their rights, identity, and inclusivity as the nation strives for a more equitable and harmonious society. This vision aligns with the principles advocated by leaders like the Tribal President, emphasizing the need for progress that respects cultural diversity and fosters unity in diversity.

Legacy Editor Changed status to publish October 16, 2023