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Conflict Formation and Conflict Containment

The processes of ethnic conflicts can be understood in the context of India’s development dynamics that have released simultaneously the impulses of both conflict formation and containment. Both the alienation and integration of ethnic groups have been going on side-by-side a process coined by Arun Bose as disintegration and reintegration. The fact that the sharpening of ethnic boundaries and conflicts in India has been on rise cannot be disputed. Studies have shown an increase in communal riots and rise in the number of people killed in these riots has become alarming. One of the major factors behind the deterioration in the communal situation is the rise of Hindu fundamentalism and its corresponding majoritarian ethnic nationalism based on Hindutva. As for the persistent and festering ethnic conflicts in Northeast, Kashmir and other parts of the country, they have intensified and the extent of violence has grown. Even the character of these insurgencies in terms of their objectives, ideologies and leadership is becoming more stringent and uncompromising. No less significant than this process of disintegration and conflict have been the forces of integration and mutual identification of diverse ethnic and cultural streams. The basis of the integrative process is India’s composite culture expressed in the form of secular national identity. In India all religion were accepted on an equal footing. The state gave equal rights to all religious and ethnic groups so that they could protect and promote their educational and cultural interests by virtue of the Indian Constitution. This secular identity was not an imposition by the state on society but recognition of a deep-rooted social reality. Hence firm constitutional provisions were made to preserve secular identity. The significance of linkages between the dynamics of development and ethnic conflicts has been recognized. According to Reetz ethnic and national group formation could be separated from modern socio-economic development trends of emerging capitalism. The growth of market relations at regional and national levels was the driving force behind the increasing articulation of both separate ethnic and common national interests. The national and regional market developed much faster and more strongly backed by the growth of industry and commerce, brought diverse regional and ethnic interests together to interact, collaborate and compete. As a result regional and ethnic interests have developed stakes in expanding and strengthening the national market and linking it with the network of regional interests. But these integrative pulls have not been without disintegrative implications. One of the common causes of the politicization of ethnicity and the formation of ethnic conflicts is said to be the relative and perceived sense of economic deprivation by a given ethnic group. The present plethora of ethnic conflicts coincides with an increasing sense of shrinking economic horizons and political battlement. The lopsided and uneven growth of the national market, prosperity and income distribution and the sensitization of under privileged groups to their disadvantageous placement in the national division of labor led to sense of relative deprivation.The economic policies has fuelled diverse ethnic insurgencies in India. 

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