Featured weekly article: Ethno-Religious Identity and Sectarian Civil Society: A Case from India

Ethno-Religious Identity and Sectarian Civil Society: A Case from India

By Sarbeswar Sahoo

Volume 8, Issue 3, pages 453-480

Abstract

This paper analyses the role of Rajasthan Vanvasi Kalyan Parishad (RVKP), an ethnic Hindu(tva) organisation, among the tribal populations in south Rajasthan. It argues that the RVKP has been able to enhance its legitimacy and expand its socio-political support base among the tribals through a well-articulated and planned process of ‘ethnification’. This process has been carried out in four basic ways: (1) utilising development projects as means to spread the ideology of Hindutva, (2) bringing religious awakening and organising mass re-conversion programmes, (3) redefining indigenous identity and characterising certain communities as ‘the other’, and (4) with the support of the various state institutions. The paper concludes that by ethnicising indigenous identity, the RVKP has not just created a ‘culture of fear and violence’ in the tribal regions but also threatened the secular democratic ethos of Indian society.

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