- General introduction on India’s diversities.
- How India preserved its oneness in border areas.
- Way forward & Conclusion.
India is a land of multicultural diversity, with different religious, ethnic, linguistic communities cohabiting peacefully. However, India has witnessed several instances of religio-ethnic tensions since independence, more pronounced along its border regions. The 5 distinct regions that have faced the maximum brunt are Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Ladakh, J&K and Punjab. None of these regions reflect the ‘majoritarian’ religio-ethnic denomination of India.
Oneness amidst diversity:
This socio-reality has always been exploited from across borders to flare up & explain the various secessionist movements. But, a very substantial majority remain invested in the inclusive ‘idea of India’ despite fractured insurgency persisting in these areas. This is corroborated by facts like – despite armed insurgency in the Kashmir valley since 1990s, no local uprising supporting Pakistani misadventure was attempted by Kashmiris, even during the Kargil War. Local villagers along Punjab & Rajasthan borders feeding Indian soldiers amidst shelling, points to a silver lining. So, even with Accords (Punjab Accord, Mizo Accord, Assam Accord), the ’idea of India’ has triumphed with its restorative accommodation.
The natural resistance of the predominantly minority religio-ethnic populace along border areas due to perception of subjugation, diminishment or demonizing can severely enlarge their distance from ‘the idea of India’. These border regions with strategic & geographic importance must be handled sensitively & empathetically. India must ensure constant political co-option, inclusion & celebration of Indianness. A simple law-and-order issue can turn into an issue of nationalism.
The ’Idea of India’ is beyond partisanship or constitutional reimagination. It is certainly not about appeasement or revisionism, but about equal dignity and rights to all citizens. India needs to consider this delicate conundrum to stand by its sovereignty & territorial integrity.