Journal Article

Citizens versus People: The Politics of Majoritarianism and Marginalization in Democratic India*

Dipankar Gupta

in Sociology of Religion

Published on behalf of Association for the Sociology of Religion

Volume 68, issue 1, pages 27-44
Published in print January 2007 | ISSN: 1069-4404
Published online January 2007 | e-ISSN: 1759-8818 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/socrel/68.1.27
Citizens versus People: The Politics of Majoritarianism and Marginalization in Democratic India*

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Ever since India's independence from Britain in 1947 and the tragic death toll resulting from the partition creating Pakistan, the sub-continent has been marked by religious conflict. Over the last twenty years, this has taken especially bloody turns. This article examines the political roots of the rioting that has ensued. The analysis is anchored in two fundamental distinctions: one between democratic “citizens” and communal “people”, and the other between the dynamics of hegemonic “majoritarianism” and the consequences of minority “marginalization”. The relationship between the two is explored with special reference to Hindu-Sikh violence in the state of Punjab and the long standing Hindu-Muslim violence generally initiated and sustained by Shiv Sena and other movements of the Hindutva cause, as occurred most recently in the state of Gujarat in 2002. India offers a cautionary tale in which both democracy and religious freedom hang in the balance.

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Subjects: Religion ; Sociology of Religion

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