4.3.2 Identity and Pluralism in the Nation State


Another element of modernity is the notion of the nation—and the idea that each nation should have its own state. How do modern states deal with deep diversity? While coexistence is not new, modern understandings of identity have raised the stakes for pluralism. In this 2011 lecture at the Centre for International Governance Innovation in Waterloo, Canada, political science professor and activist Yogendra Yadav discusses the dangers of nationalism and the political structures that can keep it at bay.

Listen from minutes to 8:15 to 44:20, though you are welcome to listen further, to his statements on the treatment of Kashmir and other locations and questions on state violence and poverty.
Guiding questions:

  1. What is the difference between pre-modern and modern forms of identity?
  2. What is the relationship between democracy and human rights, according to Yadav?
  3. How does the speaker define the nation state? What options exist to fulfill the nation state paradigm? What are the consequences of this idea?
  4. Why does the presenter prefer the concept of state-nation to nation-state?
  5. What is asymmetrical federation? Why is it important for the concept of the state-nation?
  6. How does India at this point in history embody the notion of a state-nation? What attributes does the speaker list?
  7. What does this video and article reveal about the fragility of the Indian state, and perhaps the state-nation model advocated for by the presenter more generally?


Optional: Recent events have deeply challenged the multi-national character of the Indian state. We suggest you read the following 2-page opinion editorial by Yogendra Yadav from August 2019 on Indian President Modi’s removal of Article 370, which permitted special norms of governance for Muslim-majority Jammu and Kashmir state, as well as on other challenges for Muslim citizens.


Video Credit: Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI), www.cigionline.org. CC BY-NC 4.0.

Thumbnail: Refugee train at Ambala Station. Photo Credit: Government of India, 1954. Public domain.