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Epilogue

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Abstract

From the mid-1980s through the turn of the new millennium, Indian politics was rocked by a veritable “saffron wave” of Hindu nationalist activism and violence.1 Communal processions, violent protests against the expansion of reservations for lower caste and tribal communities (a form of affirmative action), and repeated episodes of anti-Muslim and anti-Christian rioting (and counter-rioting) unfolded throughout India. In roughly this same period, scholars of South Asia produced groundbreaking studies that underscored the manner in which novel—and rigid—categories of religious and ethnic identity emerged in nineteenth century India, thus explaining how and why communal notions of political community gained such traction in a democratic polity that was constitutionally committed to secularism and state socialism.2 This literature demonstrated with great sophistication, detail and subtlety, the manner in which nationalist leaders invoked discursive categories of “Indian tradition” and “religion” to suggest that the peoples of the subcontinent possessed and resiliently maintained “an ancient culture,” which validated the claim that they constituted a political community entitled to self-rule.3 These studies also stressed that religion was taken to be representative of “Indian culture and tradition” as the product of an array of undertakings by colonial state that sought to erect a bureaucracy capable of administering its holdings on the subcontinent in an institutionally predictable and seemingly culturally sensitive manner.4

Keywords

Physical Training Communal Violence Political Community Colonial State Congress Party 
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Notes

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© Arafaat A. Valiani 2011

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