Poverty, malgovernance and ethnopolitical mobilization: Gorkha nationalism and the Gorkhaland agitation in India
Ganguly, R. (2005) Poverty, malgovernance and ethnopolitical mobilization: Gorkha nationalism and the Gorkhaland agitation in India. Nationalism and Ethnic Politics, 11 (4). pp. 467-502.
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In recent years, minority ethnic groups in various states in India have politically mobilized in support of separate statehood status within the Indian federation to be achieved mainly by breaking-up the existing states in which they live. In this article I analyze the main reasons behind Gorkha nationalism in West Bengal, which led to the demand for a separate “Gorkhaland” and the formation of the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC), and to assess the impact of the DGHC with the aim to determine, as far as possible, the likelihood of the Gorkhaland agitation and demand being resurrected in the near future.
Over the past several decades, the attention of scholars, practitioners and the national and international media has remained focused on Indian states like Jammu and Kashmir, Assam and the Punjab where violent ethno-secessionist insurgencies erupted and raged on. In the process, a slightly different but equally important development that affected several other states in India has remained largely hidden or ignored—that is, the political mobilization of minority ethnic groups in support of separate statehood status within the Indian federation to be achieved mainly by breaking up the existing states in which they lived. Several of these ethnopolitical movements have recently succeeded in their quest for separate statehood after the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government in New Delhi authorized the break-up of Madhya Pradesh to create Chattisgarh, Bihar to create Jharkhand, and Uttar Pradesh to create Uttaranchal. While these successes are noteworthy, equally striking is the relatively large number of similar movements that are waiting in the wings in several other states. It is in this context that the Gorkhaland agitation in West Bengal has acquired significance.
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