Democratisation is a formidable task in the Himalayan region owing to its immense cultural heterogeneity. The process of democratisation has accentuated ethnic competition, assertion of identity, and demand for ethnic homelands to protect, safeguard, and promote political and development interests of various groups.
This volume discusses competing interests; identity politics that permeates political formations, the transformations in the traditional forms of governance and their adaption to democratic institutions; the genesis and periodic eruptions of ethnic assertions, and attempts to resolve ethnic conflict. It shows how recent efforts at deepening democratic values and implementing social justice have been resisted and contested. The book argues that the play of ethnicity, the creation of political parties and interest groups, the emergence of social movements, and the voice of protest and opposition do not indicate a crisis in democracy but comprise the instruments by which the state is pushed towards reform, welfare, and inclusive politics, and is obliged to listen to the people.
Rich in ethnographic research, this volume will be useful to scholars and researchers of social and political anthropology, political studies, South Asian studies, Nepal and Himalayan studies, sociology, and development studies.
List of illustrations
Notes on contributors
Introduction: steering democratisation and negotiating identity in the Himalayas
Vibha Arora and N. Jayaram
PART I Shifting selves and competing identities
1 Seeking identities on the margins of democracy: Jad Bhotiyas of Uttarkashi
Subhadra Mitra Channa
2 The politics of census: fear of numbers and competing claims for representation in Naga society
3 The making of the subaltern Lepcha and the Kalimpong stimulus
PART II Negotiating democracy
4 Monks, elections, and foreign travels: democracy and the monastic order in western Arunachal Pradesh, North-East India
5 ‘Pure democracy’ in ‘new Nepal’: conceptions, practices, and anxieties
PART III Territorial conflict and after
6 Demand for Kukiland and Kuki ethnic nationalism
Vibha Arora and Ngamjahao Kipgen
7 Displacement from Kashmir: gendered responses
Charu Sawhney and Nilika Mehrotra