CASTE, RELIGION, LANGUAGE AND ETHNICITY
Identity Politics has become a prominent subject in the Indian politics in the past few years.
Rise of low castes, religious identities, linguistic groups and ethnic conflicts have contributed to the significance of identity politics in India. The discourse on Identity, many scholars feel, is distinctly a modern phenomenon. Craig Calhoun aptly describes the situation when he argues that it is in the modern times we encounter intensified efforts at consolidating individual and categorical identities and reinforce self-sameness. This is primarily a modern phenomenon because some scholars feel that emphasis on identity based on a central organising principle of ethnicity, religion, language, gender, sexual preferences, or caste positions, etc, are a sort of “compelling remedy for anonymity” in an otherwise impersonal modern world. It is thus said to be a “pattern of belonging, a search for comfort, an approach to community.” However, the complex social changes and the imbrications of various forces, factors and events in this modern world have rendered such production and recognition of identities problematic. This is to say that any search for an ‘authentic self or identity’ is not an innocent and unnuanced possibility; it involves negotiating other, often overlapping and contested, heterodox or multiple ‘selves’. Cascardi succinctly elucidates this by observing, “the modern subject is defined by its insertion into a series of separate value-spheres, each one of which tends to exclude or attempts to assert its priority over the rest”, thereby rendering identity-schemes problematic. Nonetheless, the concerns with individual and collective identity that simultaneously seeks to emphasise differences and attempt to establish commonality with others similarly distinguished, have become a universal venture.
17.2 WHAT IS IDENTITY POLITICS?
But the question is how do discourses on identity fit...