Religion and nationalism in India : the case of the Punjab, 1960-1990
The research examines the factors which account for the emergence of ethno-nationalist movements in multi-ethnic and late industrialising societies such as India. The research employs a historical sociological approach to the study of nationalism. Opening with an interrogation of the classic theories of nationalism, the research shows the Eurocentric limitations of these works. By providing an account of the distinctive nature and development of Indian nationalism, it is maintained that the nature, growth, timing and scope of nationalist movements is affected by the level of development and the nature of the state and society in which they emerge. Using the theoretical framework developed here, the theses seeks to explain the nature and timing of breakaway movements in the Indian subcontinent. By providing an account of the social composition of the Sikh secessionist movement, the research shifts the focus on to the peasantry. Consequently, the study interrogates the social and cultural sphere beyond the English-speaking Indian elite. The role of the widely influential media, such as the vernacular press and cassettes, in ethnic movements is also considered. The hypothesis is that the conjunction of three sets of factors explain the rise of Sikh nationalism. The first is economic, notably the transition to commercial agriculture, the second is the revolution in communication, notably the expansion of vernacular press and cassettes and the third is religious, notably the revolutionary Sikh religious ideology with emphasis on martyrdom. The theses traces the three stage evolution of the Sikhs from a religious congregation into an ethnic community in the nineteenth century and from an ethnic community into a nation in the twentieth century.