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Essay on “New Political Concepts Round The World vis-a-vis Ethnic Groups” Complete Essay for Class 9, Class 10, Class 12 and Graduation and other classes.

New Political Concepts Round The World vis-a-vis Ethnic Groups

Outlines : India’s experience over the past 50 years in nation-building, and over the past four decades in economic reforms, offers possible solutions of two most important problems that the West is struggling to come to terms with. These are stated to a congruent to modern political philosophy. Immense advances in information technology, in the firepower of small arms, in mobility and communications, coupled with the end of the Cold War, have made it impossible to push this genie back into the bottle. The question is how does one accommodate it within the framework of the nation state, and how much will the concept of the state itself have to be modified to do so.

There are no easy answers to this question. The claim of ethnic groups, whether to independence or autonomy within the existing nation states, challenges the very foundations of the European nation states. Forged between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries, any European nation state is necessarily a unitary state. It was formed through conquests and annexation, the abolition of local fiefdoms—feudal and ecclesiastical—and a remorseless centralisation of power in the hands of the sovereign. Over time, this process was given intellectual sanction by political philosophers who created an entire theory of the state, based on relations between it and the individual.

In this theory, there was place for interest groups, lobbying associations and trade unions, because these campaigned for changes in the relationship of the individual with the state. It had no place for ethnic, or for that matter, religious groups that demand recognition of themselves as a group, and consequently the rig to govern themselves in certain areas of governance. This demand poses two difficult problems for political scientists. First, it requires that they redefine the state to make it capable of recognising a summit which intervenes in its relationship with, the individual. Second, it replaces one social contract, between the state and the individual, with, in effect, three contracts—one between it and the individual in a limited sphere of authority; the second between the state and the ethnic unit, to whom it cedes certain rights; and the third between the ethnic unit and the individual. The concept is so sharply different from the ingrained concept of the nation state in European minds that, as Prof. Harvey Steinei of the Harvard Law School remarked at a seminar in the University recently, people in the West find it easier to deal in their minds with a demand for outright secession than for greater autonomy within the state. For the former does not alter the nature of the state, while the latter seeks to do precisely that. The Westerners’ difficulty in thinking outside their inherited frame of reference is one possible explanation for the readiness with which well-meaning individuals see every rebellion against the state by an ethnic group as a demand for secession, and feel little hesitation in supporting it. It also explains why the same people find it difficult to appreciate arguments of the kind that India has been putting forward on Kashmir, that the purpose of using force again the militants there, is not to crush their demands but to make them try to achieve them through greater autonomy and devolution of power within the federal state.

Behind this lack of appreciation is a more fundamental failure to understand that the Indian nation state does not conform to the European model, but has developed a model of its own. At the cost of some over-simplification, this may be described as ethnic federalism. Power is devolved by the Central State to the States whose boundaries are more or less coterminous with those of the major ethnic groups within the country. This was not the intention of the Constitution-makers. It emerged out of the evolving practice of Indian democracy—first the linguistic reorganisation of the States in 1956, and then the creation of autonomous development councils within some linguistic states, in the Eighties.

The ethnic federation is fundamentally a different federalism in the U.S. and Australia. The division between federation and state is primarily administrative in these two, and in some cases reflects, at most, the different times when various states became part of the nation. By contrast, in India each State and each development council represents people with a separate history, culture, language, cuisine, mode of dress, codes of behavior and, often, personal law. The only echo in the West of this kind of federalism, is to be found in the relationship of Quebec with the Federal Government in Canada. Many political philosophers in the West have perceived that the end product of ethnic self-assertion and global economic integration will be something akin to an ethnic federalism, and that this may indeed be the only feasible organisation of the state in the future. The question is how does one get from the unitary to the ethnically federated state? For the West this is uncharted territory. For Indians, it is one’s own backyard. A study of how ethnic federalism has evolved in India can, therefore, lift some of the fear of the un-known from Western thinkers’ and policy-makers’ minds.

Such a study is likely to show that conceding the claims of ethnicity is, on balance, more likely to cement the unity of the nation state, and not weaken it. That people who feel secure in their own ‘home areas, look with a more benign eye on people from other states who come to their state in search of jobs or for trade; and that the best way of ensuring that the leaders of an ethnic community do not become oppressive towards their own people, is by giving the latter an over-arching legal and administrative system to which they can appeal for leaders. All-in-all, there is a great deal that modern India can be proud of, and has to offer to the West.


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