Title: The Rise of State-Nations
Presented by: Yogendra Yadav
Presented on: March 25, 2011
Presented at: Centre for International Governance Innovation, Balsillie School of International Affairs
- This transcript has been edited substantially to improve clarity and flow for reading. Click here to watch the lecture.
- Extended digressions which are incidental to the arguments have been reproduced as end notes.
- The lecture presented ideas and concepts developed in Alfred Stephan, Juan J. Linz and Yogendra Yadav, Crafting State-Nations: India and Other Multinational Democracies (Johns Hopkins University 2011). The illustrations and figures are from the book.
- The divisions are my own.
I want to talk about the rise of state-nations and the way I wish to go about making the argument is as follows. I begin by posing a general question [how do modern democratic states deal with deep diversity?] and say something about why that question is important and has become far more important than it used to be; then I present one dominant answer — [the paradigm of nation-states] — and one of the possible alternatives [the paradigm of state-nations]. Thereafter, I shift to the Indian case and I sketch what was the Indian model — how India went about dealing with diversity in democracy: I begin by sketching that model in some of its specificities and then go on to look at some evidence of whether the model has worked or not; I look at some successes: I will present some empirical evidence for you to look at those successes; but I also look at some of the failures and finally ask myself: what do we learn from India’s successes and India’s failures to think about diversity and democracy in our time?
The Problem of Deep Diversity
The question I want to start with is very simple: how do modern democratic states deal with deep diversity? Why modern? The idea of dealing with the idea of coexistence of different religious and social communities within a single political unit is not unique to modern states. This existed prior to modern states. For the famous Indian emperor Ashoka — as my colleague Rajiv Bhargava would remind everyone — this is a principal concern: how to make sure that people who follow different religions live amicably within his kingdom? What does modernity do then to us? Modernity transforms this question in two fundamental ways. One, it transforms the nature of our identities. In pre-modern times, identities are fuzzy in the sense that there are no sharp boundaries between communities. What modernity does is that it brings in several templates and instrumentalities which force us to make these boundaries very sharp: boundaries between what it means to be Hindu versus what it means to be Muslim; boundaries of belonging to one linguistic community versus another linguistic community. As you travel in any pre-modern community, your notion of whether you are German or you are French — there was a notion of being German and there was a notion of being French but there were very large shaded zones which you passed through — did not require you to say either or; it did not require you to draw a sharp boundary. But this precisely what modernity does. It transforms the nature of our identity; through instrumentalities like census, it transforms these communities into enumerated communities; identities get sharply defined, and very clearly focussed.
At the same time, modernity also ensures that these sharply defined identities are brought in juxtaposition to each other. They are made to confront each other in ways which the pre-modern world did not need to: through international transfers, through cultural flows, through flows of information, through migrations. Everything is happening at the moment. So, in a sense, modernity makes this question — a question that humanity has always lived with — a much tougher question to negotiate, a question which has its presence all the time.
What does democracy do to this question? Because the question of dealing with diversity within a single state is not necessarily a question that worries only democracies — Syria is worried about it, Bahrain is worried about it, United Arab Emirates is worried about it. What democracy does is that it removes one range of options to deal with deep diversities. Today, we associate democracy with a certain minimum regime of rights. And given that, and if you wish to respect those rights, then, certain ways of dealing with diversity which were available in the 19th century are simply not available in the early 21st century. It also does something else, it provides new set of instruments. Democratic politics based on universal adult franchise and open political competition also provides new ways of dealing with diversity. What it does in some imperceptible ways is that it makes the nature of identities politically negotiable. In other words, we are dealing with a question which is neither necessarily modern nor specific only to democracies. But the modern democratic context transforms the nature of this question completely.
Let me say a little about the two other expressions used here: state and deep diversity. There are many ways of dealing with diversity that need not respect boundaries of modern states: accepting multi-national solutions, accepting disintegration of countries — what happened in Yugoslavia is a response to diversity except that in the last instance, it did not respect the boundaries of state; it involved redrawing the boundaries of the state. I am at the moment interested — I do know that much thinking in multiculturalism sometimes takes us in the direction of full blown multi-nationality which is to say: let a thousand flowers, bloom let a thousand nations bloom, let a thousand states bloom — in ways of thinking about resolving this question within the given boundaries of state.
Finally, what is deep diversity? I have something very specific in mind in talking about deep diversity. There are all kinds of diversities that you see in the modern world. But only some of these diversities have geographical concentration and have the potential of presenting itself as an alternative nation, the potential of thinking of itself as a possible state. Those are the ones that I would call deep diversity. So, the position of Quebec in Canada for example, is clearly an illustration of deep diversity. The position of Kashmir in India is clearly an illustration of deep diversity in India. Other kinds of diversities that we have and there are so many which do not lend itself to geographical concentration and aggregation in the form of alternative states are not things that I would bring under deep diversity because these are things which most states find some ways of resolving. It is the question of deep diversity which poses a challenge to the boundaries of nations and states and that’s a question which is worth thinking about seriously.
The Paradigm of Nation-States
With these parameters then, I want to get back at the question we posed right in the beginning: how do modern democratic states deal with deep diversity? As you can see, my question has an empirical appearance but has a moral normative slant to it — how do they deal with it also has implicit questions of how should we deal with it. These are both things that I wish to take on. We have one dominant way of responding to this question and that dominant way invites us to think about a world where there is almost a perfect fit between cultural boundaries and political boundaries; that is to say that the way to deal with diversity is to draw political boundaries in such a way that each culturally homogeneous community has a political unit of its own. Each nation, each culturally homogeneous community, which exhibits characteristics of deep diversity has a state of its own. So, each nation has one and no more than one state; each state has within it one and no more than one nation.
This is, artificially put, the paradigm of the nation-state. In its cruder formulation, this is something which is unlikely to appeal to us. But it is astonishing to look at how deeply informing this particular paradigm has been of our imagination and how powerful this imagination has been in the last hundred and fifty years in shaping our thinking about how collective political life should be lead. Basically, this paradigm invites us to think about the existence of more than one homogeneous community within a single political boundary as a potential source of problem. So, if you have more than one nation within a state, you are dealing with a potential problem. Or if you have one nation, say people like the Kurds, spread across more than one state, that’s also a problem. So, how do you resolve it? Well, you resolve it either by redrawing political boundaries — and you can see the history of 20th century is history of attempts to draw and redraw political boundaries in order to match a presumed deep cultural boundary or attempts to erase cultural boundaries. How do you erase cultural boundaries? You can erase cultural boundaries very softly by encouraging minorities to integrate; you can put some pressure on them to assimilate; you can use laws and state power to coerce; and in the last instance, you have the option of ethnic cleansing. And the history of the 20th century is the history of all these options having been exercised almost all over the world.
So, we’re dealing with a subject which is not merely of limited academic significance. We’re dealing with a paradigm which is not a paradigm that bothers some professors in universities. We are dealing with a paradigm that has gripped human imagination for a very long time. People have fought battles and killed each other to meet this theoretical paradigm of how political life should be lead. My colleague Ashis Nandy insists, and I respect his calculations, that in the 20th century more people were killed in ethnic violence than in the two world wars and all the other wars of the states put together. This is the kind of subject that we are dealing with. This in a sense is the consequence of the power of the idea of nation-states. We all feel uneasy about those consequences but what do we do about it? Is there another way of looking about it, another way of theorising this?
The Paradigm of State-Nations
Crafting State-Nations: India and Other Multinational Democracies is an attempt to understand how we go from the dominant idea of the nation-state to a different way of looking at it. This dominant idea has had two kinds of critiques. There are moral critiques of the idea of nation-state and the idea of nationalism. That has been quite prevalent all this time. Look at Rabindranath Tagore, for example — I am thinking of the Indian examples. In fact, one of the most ironic things about Indian nationalism was that this nationalism was informed by a very deep critique of the idea of nationalism itself. Someone like Tagore, India’s first Nobel Laureate, who was considered an iconic figure by Indian nationalists, actually wrote a small book in English critiquing the idea of nationalism and he wrote to Mahatma Gandhi, the leader of our national movement, a series of letters, to say: I thought you were a spiritual guru, I thought you were a great man, why do you attach yourself to such parochial notions as nation and nationalism. And this is happening at the height of the national movement and both these are icons of the national movement debating with each other whether they should associate with such narrow doctrines as nationalism or not. In other words, moral critiques of the idea of nation-states have been around. What we don’t have is an attempt to take that one step further and to actually say that it’s not just in the realm of morality but if you look at the real-life practices of the last hundred years or so, there is actually an alternative model which has emerged from practices of different societies in dealing with deep diversities. What I would do today is to present one such case, namely that of India. But I do so not because I think the Indian case is and ought to be the central case but because I happen to be familiar with that. I am sure someone could do that for Canada, for Spain and other countries.
The basic starting point and, in a sense, the intuition behind this intellectual project is the idea that while, in reality, the idea of the nation-state dominated human imagination, in political practice, many parts of the world did work out very intelligent and complex ways of doing what nation-states prohibited us from doing: namely, keeping more than one homogeneous political community within a single political unit without it becoming a source of deep conflict and without disintegration; and this is a model which is based on recognition of diversity and differences. This model and the contrast with nation states is this: in this model, you saw differences not as a problem but potentially as a source of strength; this model encourages diversities to be foregrounded rather than to be swept under the carpet; this model requires diversities to be acknowledged from the front door and be accommodated.
We focus on this model and we thought there is now a need to give this model a name because that’s how the imagination moves: you look at practices; there is an unease which takes forms of alternative practices; and there comes a stage when you wish to give that alternative practice a name and move that forward. Naming doesn’t change the world but it can possibly take us one step forward in trying to think of alternative arrangements. Names have a quality of reminding us of something all the time. So, that’s why we propose the name state-nation. Why state-nation? After all, it is just a reversal of the two words used there. State-nation because while nation-states invite us to think of deep cultural boundaries which are pre-existing and which in turn have to be respected by those who do the business of state, the name state-nation invites us to think exactly in the opposite direction. It invites us to think of modern political boundaries which can negotiate pre-existing differences and actually accommodate them.
Nation-States vs State-Nations
Let me not go on about the theoretical difference. One way of capturing the difference between these two ideas is to look at their differences somewhat more systematically and schematically as kind of ideal types. Ideal types in the sense that these are not differences you would see in reality clearly reflected in concrete cases because no one case would fully fit any of these theorisations.
In terms of pre-existing conditions, nation-states are characterised by awareness and attachment to one single cultural identity, one cultural and civilizational tradition. You would see this characteristic in a large number of countries such as Japan, Sweden or Germany. State-nations, on the other hand, are countries which are typically characterised by awareness and attachment to more than one civilizational cultural tradition. This attachment to more than one cultural tradition, more than one civilizational tradition, does not preclude a possible identification with a single political unit.
In terms of state policies and how politics and policies relate to this, nation-states are characterised by homogenisation while state-nations are characterised by recognition of diversities and by non-assimilationist integration. In terms of institutional apparatus, nation-states are typically unitary states; sometimes they can be federal too — think of Germany or Austria which are technically federal states but these are nation-states which have created federations more by way of administrative division. State-nations are characterised not just by federation but by asymmetrical federation. In its politics, nation-states are characterised by absence of ethno-cultural or territorial cleavages. State-nations are characterised by presence and salience of these cleavages. Nation-states do not provide a play for autonomous parties. State-nations allow, legitimise and, sometimes even, find coalitional power arrangements — that is to say, parties which are autonomous parties are often given a share in central power. These are some of the characteristics.
In terms of citizen orientation, which follows somewhat from the pre-existing conditions, nation-states are characterised by single identity and by obedience to the state and to the nation. State-nations on the other hand are characterised multiple but complementary identities — which is to say the citizens say: yes, I am a Canadian, but with that I have another identity too and I cannot be asked to choose between these two. I carry more than one identity and both these are my legitimate political identities. This is typically the pattern of state nation.
State-Nations: The Case of India
Enough of theory and generalisations, I want to now come to India and speak about the Indian case. Just one minute for a thought experiment of the kind that John Rawls would approve. The thought experiment is this: we happen to everything about what happened in the 20th century; we know all the relevant facts necessary to think about diversity and democracy all over the world; but somehow, because of some stroke of luck or ill-luck, we miss out on one slice of memory which is what happened to India after 1947; you know what India’s demographics are; you know that the country has been partitioned on lines of religion in 1947; you know that the country has a wide scape of languages; you also know this thing called “Hinduism” which comprises 80 percent of the population is actually characterised by deep divisions of caste so that it is actually in a sense pointless to talk about Hindus because divisions of caste with the institution of untouchability does exist; and in this experiment, you do know what happened to Yugoslavia, you do know what happened to the Soviet Union, but you somehow do not know what happened to India after 1947. What is our best guess?
If I look at the literature of that time, if I read sensible political commentators of that time, the conclusion is somewhat inescapable: give it 15 years, maybe 20, this country will disintegrate. This was the most obvious sensible conclusion. I don’t think it was alarmist and I don’t think it was nonsensical; it reflected the wisdom of its time. The wisdom of its time was that this country was characterised by a deep misfit between cultural and political boundaries; it has mega political boundaries which has within it at least 25 countries. It was a reasonable assumption to make in that time. That did not happen. Therein lies the tale.
The Indian national leadership took on a very risky model at that time. They took it on because it flew in the face of conventional political wisdom. Leaders of the Indian national movement wanted to insist — against Churchillian accusations — that India was a nation. They obviously could not have pretended that this was a kind of nation in the sense in which France or Germany is a nation. So, they came up with innovative formulations of what it meant to be a nation and the phrase that captured it in India — and someone told me yesterday that this was actually the case in Canadian textbooks as well which delighted me no end — was ‘unity in diversity’ which was almost the official slogan of the Indian state in dealing with these situations. This is what Indian nationalism did. Although the constitution was written between 1946 and 1950, some of these fundamental decisions about what the Indian nation was like and what form the Indian democratic state will take were decided much earlier. In fact, one could argue that by the early 1930s, most of these fundamental decisions were settled: India was going to be democratic state; it was going to be a state which would not be a nation in the classical sense of the term; it would be asymmetrical; it would not be assimilationist —all these features were actually taken for granted. They were undertaking a very risky venture. They did not know it at that point but they were creating a new model unknown to them. What was that model?
The Indian model had the following attributes. Some of these attributes have to do with legal-constitutional institutions. Asymmetricalism is one of the key attributes of this new model. Ironically, the word ‘federation’ was never mentioned in the Indian constitution. They knew about the word, they debated it, but they feared it. The country had just had partition. So, in creating what it is nothing except a federation, the word federation was kept out and instead a euphemism called ‘Union of India’ was used. India is a union of states. An asymmetrical federation was established which was characterised by uneven representation of states and union territories — UTs are federally administered territories; these are very tiny and only a few now. States have uneven representation not only in the lower chamber but also in the upper chamber. More importantly, the Constitution is full of specific provisions for specific states. One of the most famous ones of these is Article 370 for the state of Jammu & Kashmir — I’ll have more to say about Jammu & Kashmir later — which effectively says that virtually nothing in the Constitution of India will apply to Jammu & Kashmir. If I could summarise the article in one sentence, that’s what the Article means. But similar provisions were provided for several other smaller states of the North-East of India. Basically, the Constitution shows a deep sensitivity to differences and the Constitution itself provides for these differences to be accommodated. It also provided flexibility apart from naming certain places and assigning special and unique features to them. Two general appendices called Schedule V and Schedule VI were inserted in the Constitution which provided for recognition of uniqueness for the indigenous communities which the constitution makers might have missed. They empower the President of India has to simply recognise and by order notify certain area to be an area inhabited by indigenous communities and once notified, a large number of laws and provisions of the Union will not apply there and independent arrangements can be made. So, enormous flexibilities were built in the Constitution.
There is a parliamentary form of government. What this does is that it makes power into a shareable good. While we look at all other features of parliamentary and presidential forms of government, I don’t know why this attribute has escaped the attention of political scientists because these two forms of government have direct relationship to the possibility of accommodating diversity or not. Parliamentary form of government makes power shareable and once it becomes shareable, of course, all kinds of corruption and everything else creeps in. But parliamentary form of government, in the last instance, is coalition requiring and coalition sustaining; sometimes not so sustaining and requires collapsing as well. But its diversity consequences are actually very positive. So, this is an attribute of the Indian system.
And finally, in terms of thinking about constitutional provisions, in the bill of rights which India had, like most other democracies, there was a recognition of collective identities, of religious minorities by name and with special provisions. Which are these collectivities? Religious minorities and linguistic minorities. There is no special attention or any special privilege to any one language. And there are special recognitions of disadvantaged communities: two communities specifically, the ex-untouchables who are today called Dalits and the indigenous communities who are called Adivasis; the constitutional language for them is Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. There are special recommendations and reservations — in everything: in education, in parliament, in jobs — for them. This was the constitutional package.
The Indian model goes beyond the constitutional provisions and includes an element of policy and an element of politics. The element of policy is the policy of integration without assimilation and this is where unity in diversity comes into play. In terms of the key symbols of Indian state, it is reflected right from the National Anthem which actually begins by naming places in the country and, in a sense, gives you the message that India is all these places put together. So, it does not begin by singing praises of some deep Indianness. It’s actually naming of places and recognition of diversity and differences that the National Anthem is all about. In terms of language and cultural policies… I have already mentioned the language resolution in the Constitution but even later on in the country in the 1960s, there were linguistic riots in India about Hindi not being imposed on the rest of the country. The government finally took that line — it has now become the official policy — which stipulated that English would be allowed to be used for official purposes as long as the non-Hindi states require it. Now, whether it was a good resolution to the linguistic problem in terms of equality is a separate question and I have my opinions on that but in terms of diversity and its accommodation, the fact remains that no one linguistic group can get up in the country and say: my language is the language of the nation. That idea was simply abandoned.
In terms of politics — because no model can be invented purely by a constitution; that’s only the starting point of the game, the game being politics — what happened in India was the recognition of regional political parties through the front door. This happened about 20 to 25 years ago. Parties which are state specific, parties which actually draw most of their support from one state of the Union, one province of the Union, started coming up. Many commentators thought this was the end of the Indian dream because if you have a party from Tamil Nadu, from Andhra Pradesh, from Punjab, from Maharashtra, where is India? What’s going to happen to Indian politics? In the last instance, however, if you look at it now, we see that by then, the pattern of politics was far too developed for anyone to try to control it. But if you look at the overall consequences today, my sense is that these regional parties have contributed more to integration than the so-called national political parties. The consequences have been that because these regional political parties were given a front-door entry and were provided legitimate political play, none of them took the secessionist route. They actually have become centric regional parties in the sense that most of these regional parties would wish to claim that they are not regional. They would have names like All India Anna DMK: the party is entirely limited to one state of the union but they wish to pretend that they are All India ‘something’.
Also, they enter into interlocking alliances, coalitions with polity wide parties. There are two polity wide parties, the Congress and the BJP. And the pattern of politics in the last 15 or 20 years is such that most of these regional parties have interlocking coalitions. Interlocking in the sense: we support you in a national election; you support us to win power in a provincial election. And there are unequal terms set for both. It a perfect interlocking alliance. Accommodation of regional politics directly has had very beneficial consequences; so much so that there are two political parties which are on the borders of secession which have been given a legitimate play in the national politics. One of these parties is in Kashmir and the other party is in the state of Nagaland. Both these parties, even though they have not advocated secession, are known to be very soft on secessionists. Yet they have been given a legitimate direct open political play.
India as a State-Nation: The Evidence
We’ve seen what Indian national leadership were trying to do; we know it was a tough situation; we know the set of practices they came up with; we know what their solution was; the question is: has it worked?
I’ll present a series of evidences very quickly. My questions in a country like this would be the following. First, do people have a sense of national pride? That’s one question because I am not one of those who would say: let a thousand nations bloom. That’s not the way I look at it. A state-nation in the last instance is both a state and a nation. A certain kind of political integration is important to it. So, the question is, do people have a sense of national pride? This is evidenced from the World Values Survey data.
My point is not that India is among the top. My point is that the level of national pride is such that would not lead you to thinking about this experiment having been a failure. We clearly are looking at reasonably high levels of national pride compared to some other countries. We can also guess why is it that in countries like Germany, Switzerland, Belgium and Austria, the level of national pride would be somewhat lower. That’s 20th century history straightaway playing itself out. So, the point of the comparison is simply that something has happened. This is not a country which suffers from any lack of sense of national pride.
Second, do people have a sense of being Indian? This is the question about multiple but complementary identities.
35% Indians have a sense that would describe themselves as only Indian which is more than what they would in Spain or in Belgium — these are countries where this question has been tried and these are countries which are state-nations of a serious order. What is significant here are the figures for Muslims and Sikhs — two large groups which are religious minorities and Muslims are a disadvantaged religious minority. That’s where my attention would immediately go, to see whether they share that national identity. Of course, they do. So, the only two conclusions I would draw from this table are that (a) a very large number of Indians, if you forget the top 35% and the bottom category of 12%, are the ones — that’s a little more than 40% — that would mix some degree of state identity and some degree of national identity in describing who they are, and (b) in the case of minorities where you would expect some kind of alienation, this identification of Indianness is, if anything, a little more than the rest, not less. It’s less in the case of Christians but that has to do with their demographic distribution in the country.
Third, what is the level of trust? Do people trust only their provincial institutions or do they also trust some of these national institutions?
Again, the comparison has other countries which are long standing federal democracies. The figures tell us that, compared to other long standing federal democracies, Indian level of trust in the legal system, in the parliament, in political parties, in the central government and the civil services is pretty high. It comes as a reassurance to me that the level of trust in the police is very low; reassurance in the quality of data. If the level of trust in the police was also very high, I would be stunned and I would begin to relook at the data itself given the way Indian police works. The point is that trust is extended not merely to local or provincial institutions but also to national institutions.
Finally, is there support for democracy? Because afterall, democratic political mechanisms are what holds it together. Do people have trust in that democracy itself?
Here, it’s a selective comparison with countries which have witnessed non-democratic regimes. Again, the simple point is that India is not a country where a large number of people think that they can do without democracy. Something of this diversity frame which has been guaranteed by democracy has worked.
Does it hold true for all sections of society? That’s a natural question will come to mind. Here is a look at the classic political efficacy question. Does your vote make a difference?
Honestly, I am always stunned to see so many people who believe that their vote makes a difference. I don’t know if my vote makes any difference. But the point here is not the objectivity of it but the perceptions because nations and communities are created in minds and destroyed in minds. We look at this from 1971, 1996 and 2004; three points of time through the national election study conducted from CSDS (Centre for the Study of Developing Societies). The simple point is that the sense of political efficacy has increased. More importantly, it has increased in every single disadvantaged group that we could possibly think of.
What’s the point of this positive story? The point of this entire evidence is to say that this very risky experiment which began in 1947 did succeed in some basic ways not merely in holding the federation together — we don’t need surveys to find out that India is one single country even today. But that this is not merely a legal fact. There is more to it. Institutions and in terms of citizen subjectivities too, this experiment has succeeded in some fundamental ways.
India as a State-Nation: The Failures
Are there no failures? Of course, there are. And let me just speak about some of the big failures before I close with some general observations. Kashmir is one of the best known most spectacular and comprehensive failures. Comprehensive because through the last 50 years it’s only fair to say that people in the Kashmir valley have remained unintegrated in the imagination of India. We have asked tough questions in the Kashmir valley and the answer has been somewhat flat over the last 12 years or so during which we have conducted surveys in Kashmir; the answer is that is 4 out of 5 persons in Kashmir want to secede from India — they don’t want to go to Pakistan but they want to have an independent state of their own. This is as comprehensive a failure as it can get. After 60 years, if 80% of the people say: we don’t want to live in this country, that’s bad.
The question is, is it a failure of state-nation policies? Or is it a failure of inability to extend state-nation policies? My argument is that, if you look at Kashmir’s history more closely, it is an even more fundamental failure. It is a failure to extend minimum democratic conditions to that part of India. Although in the Constitution it was provided with more autonomy than any other state of India, in reality it has worked like a colony, a place where we have had military presence, where basic democratic rights have never been extended, elections have never been fair with some exceptions, and puppet regimes have been imposed from the top. This is the lack of basic democratic conditions which, of course, is not conducive to the state-nation policies at all. So, the lesson I learnt from Kashmir is that democracy is a necessary condition.
Similarly, with Nagaland — a tiny state on the North-East of India — which has refused to integrate with India right from the beginning. What we have today is probably not that deep a sense of alienation as in Kashmir but I would still say there is no deep relationship to India. What we have is a military stalemate. The rebels in Nagaland have got tired. The Indian state has also got tired. And they are trying to work their way out to negotiation which have ended up in a deadlock. But compare that to another state in the North-East itself, Mizoram, which presented itself with similar diversities. Mizoram had a condition which, at one point, was worse than Nagaland. The Indian state used Air Force bombing on its own people in the 1960s but by 1987, the situation was reversed completely in Mizoram and today, Mizoram is one of the most peaceful and integrated states of the Indian Union. The lesson I pick up from the North-East is, if the initial moment is not impossible, then recoveries do take place. And recoveries take place only when a package of state-nation policies is extended. In Mizoram, the recovery took place because finally the Indian state said: alright, you run your own country but agree to be part of India. So, they used Schedule VI to work out this provision. Virtually, large number of laws passed by Indian parliament do not apply there. Of course, budgetary grants do go there. That’s an arrangement that worked.
For one decade, the insurgency appeared to be bordering on secession in Punjab. And it seemed that Punjab was headed that way. Many scholars observed that it was a classic case of minority alienation resulting in secession. We take a very close look at that example in this book. The argument here is that Punjab is not the case of deep alienation of a minority religion. That, actually, the Sikhs had done better than the Hindus in almost every possible respect. There is very strong evidence of that. What we saw was a classic democratic breakdown in which the elite was playing its own too clever by half games resulting in a temporary breakdown which allowed a recovery in 1996. And the recovery has been as spectacular as was the collapse.
Let me summarise this entire story so far. Diversity and its relationship to democracy is no longer a question which concerns some peculiar societies as was imagined 50 years ago. 50 years ago, the dominant wisdom was that there are normal countries where homogeneity was the norm and then there are some peculiar countries — I am sure they must have thought of Canada as one of those peculiar places where there is too much of a mix. Today, it’s time to reverse that assumption. And to begin to think that countries like Japan, Sweden, and some other European countries, may actually turn out to be something of an exception in human history. That, actually, the global situation would be of lack of fit between cultural and political boundaries. And that this is actually not so bad a news because these two things can be brought together in ways which are profitable both for democracy and for sustaining diversity.
In order to do so, while in reality the question of diversity has expanded — it has started attacking even Europe; when Switzerland has those laws about minarets, you know the question of diversity is hitting very hard in all places where people never expected it to come — our imagination is not expanding in a corresponding way. This is what we need to do: we need to expand our moral and political imagination to keep with the changing realities of our time. The idea of state-nations is one possible paradigm of thinking about it. I do not mean to say: junk the nation-state in Sweden; junk the nation-state in Japan. These are decent practices. They have worked. I am also not saying: adopt state-nations everywhere else. We don’t know sufficiently about the world. Our notion of the world is still limited to half the world even now. We would have many practices of different kinds. And I do not mean to suggest that the Indian case provides us with a recipe book which can be applied everywhere else. If European and US recipes have not worked in the rest of the world, there is no reason why the Indian recipe should. It is just a way to expand our imagination; to begin to think in ways which are diverse and rich to keep with a reality which is diverse and rich.
This might also achieve something else in the process; this might shift the locus of democratic theory from a tiny part of the world — Europe and the US — to most of the world. Because while democracy has expanded to all nooks and corners of the world, our notion of what it means to be democratic has not expanded. To do that is one of the biggest challenges of our time. And by thinking of something like state-nations we can begin to take a small step towards doing democratic theory in a way which is truly democratic.
 “Asymmetrical federation is a federation that does not treat all the units within the federation equally; which works out unique solutions, different solutions for different places. The US is a typical example of a symmetrical federation while India is an example of asymmetrical federation in the extreme.”
 “John Rawls would call it a partial veil of ignorance but I like to think of the Bombay cinema in whose movies accidents like this routinely happen and the whole movie then revolves around that accident. So, John Rawls or Bombay cinema, you take your pick but basically you happen to lose that slice of your memory but you know everything else.”
 “You could say 25 if you wanted to look at languages which have print culture of their own, languages which have some kind of recognition and intellectual culture around it, but if you were a linguist you would probably go up to 700. So, anything from 25 to 700. You have as much variety of languages as you would find, for example, in the whole of Europe, maybe more.”
 “I say this with some hesitation now because I know I have not arrived in the right week in Canada to advocate a parliamentary form of government and the beauties of coalition making.”
 For instance, the Sikhs. I mention this because I know this is a debate in Canada right now. Whether the Sikhs can carry a little sword with them as a sign of their religious affiliation is something which is provided in India as a fundamental right of religious minorities. The right to carry a symbolic sword as a part of your religious rights — not the full sword; in fact, the smallness of size is also prescribed in the Constitution — is granted by the Constitution.”
 “Interestingly, the Indian constitution does not recognise any national language although many Indians believe that Hindi which is spoken by 40% of the population — which is also my mother tongue — is the national language but actually Indian constitution does not recognise any language as national language at all. There is simply a list which is called the Eight Schedule of the constitution which began with 14 languages has now become 22 which are official languages of the Union and that’s all.”
 “Reservation not in the Canadian sense of the term but let’s say, quota…yeah, that’s the North American expression — there are quotas for them.”
 supra note 7
 “It has huge consequences for corruption which is going on right now in the country. Sharing power also means sharing booties of corruption which has been happening at a very large scale but that’s not my story today. My story is only to look at diversity related consequences.”