Kashmir and Sindh
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Professor Das provides a fascinating study on the issue of ethnic politics in multiethnic Third World countries and the non-convergence of state and nation, using the Kashmir and Sindh models.
The artificial decolonization process in the South Asian subcontinent resulted in the construction of national frontiers for its two successor states that did not rest on a synchronization of ethnic and state boundaries. Consequently, cross-border loyalties amongst significant sections of the population survived the boundaries imposed between the two successor states. When, in the context of centralizing nation-building strategies ethnic political assertions occur in outlying or frontier areas of these nation-states, the distinction between domestic and external affairs, or between home and foreign politics, tends to lose its significance in the traditional sense. Political actors from across the borders of neighboring state can then deny the marks of their different objective nationalities and treat themselves as members of a single "loyalty group".
Thus, ethnic politics transcends its domestic contours and helps foment regional tensions. In such circumstances, ethnic assertions tend to constitute vital local or domestic ingredients that define the national security priorities within a particular region. The current insurrection in Kashmir and turmoil in Sindh superbly demonstrate this pattern.
Suranjan Das is Professor of History at the University of Calcutta and Director, Metaji Institute for Asian Studies, Calcutta. He has been a visiting Professor to a number of leading institutes of higher learning in the USA and Europe, and has been awarded numerous national and international award in recognition of his academic achievements.
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