successful were the federal political experiments that created the states
of India and Pakistan? In this lecture Katherine Adeney-- ex-tutorial
fellow in the department of government at the London School of Economics
and Political Science and now at Balliol College, Oxford University--considers
the relationship between constitutional design and the regulation of
ethnic and national conflict in India and Pakistan. Although such investigations
might seem narrowly focused, Adeney argues that they are of great importance
to the exercise of state and nation-building in a volatile region.
be viewed in two ways. On the one hand you can look at it as being an
independent variable, a pre-existing set of institutional structures
which therefore condition to some extent the behaviour of elites and
masses. On the other, you can look at it as being a dependent variable,
whereby elites who are setting up a new state, or are just seeking to
reorganise their existing state, use federal structures with the specific
intention of creating certain types of behaviour amongst their masses
or other elite groups. Now, in terms of its relationship to fragmentation
and coherence in Asia, I think one would certainly say that apparent
fragmentation promoted by federalism actually leads to coherence, but
only in certain forms, and that is what I want to focus on.
a pretty bad track record generally. Forty-six percent of federations
in the twentieth century have failed. That is a pretty devastating critique.
I think that its failure, especially in regulating conflict in ethnically
divided societies, has been primarily due to the nature of the federal
design rather than something inherent in federalism itself. Second,
when ethnic groups are territorially concentrated, lumped together as
one, then I think that homogeneous provinces encompassing the whole
of this ethnic group are going to be better than, say, a federal design
that seeks to split up these territorially concentrated ethnic groups.
Third, I don't think that the creation of homogeneous states in a federation
is in itself enough to regulate and to prevent ethnic conflict.
am going to focus on the relationship between federalism, secession
and autonomy, specifically between constitutional design (particularly
federal design), and the effectiveness of that design in regulating
ethno-national conflict in divided societies.
Ethnicity and language
Despite the idea
that partition was going to be creating a Muslim homeland for Pakistan,
13 percent of the population of Partition Pakistan was actually Hindu.
The important difference from India was that this Hindu minority was
almost exclusively concentrated in the eastern wing of Pakistan, the
area which is now Bangladesh. Twenty-two per cent of the population
of East Pakistan was Hindu.
If you look at
the two states divided by language you will see that India is incredibly
heterogeneous. There is no one dominant group: the Hindi speaking group
is not even a majority. It possess between 30 and 40 per cent of the
population of India, depending on which census results you take and
depending on how exactly you classify a Hindi speaker. If you consider
Pakistan, the biggest single group before the secession of East Pakistan
are the Bengalis. But in contrast to India, not only is there a very
large linguistic group, there is also another very large linguistic
group opposing it, and these are the Punjabi speakers, who are concentrated
in the western wing of Pakistan.
After the secession
of East Pakistan this changed radically, and Punjabi speakers quickly
transformed themselves into the majority. This is important, because
in terms of dominant groups and relationships between ethnic groups,
you get a very different relationship depending on whether there is
any group that can oppose another one. So, the salient point is that
where in India there is not a very clear dominant group, in Pakistan
there is, both before and after the secession.
India and Pakistan
provide excellent examples for a comparative analysis because they have
so many similarities. But they also have one important difference in
relation to their federal structures. So what are their similarities?
The two states are very ethnically heterogeneous, both at the time of
partition and independence, and remain so today. They are products of
the same colonial regime, the British Raj. Even though they didn't have
identical institutional frameworks during their time under the Raj,
both states also had exactly the same percentage of religious minorities--about
Independence and reorganisation
in 1948, both states had very similar constraints. They needed to pursue
economic development. They also had the task of state building, as well
as the weighty task of nation building, which was incredibly competitive
during the partition struggle, but also after the partition struggle.
There was no single definition of a Pakistani or an Indian nation. There
were always different identities within these entities. But both of
these states provide examples of competitive features of federal design,
specifically the reorganisation of their provincial units within their
federal systems. This might seem a very narrow thing to concentrate
on, but it is actually at the heart of their nation building, their
state building, and you can look at it in terms of their multicultural
policies and their assimilations policies. I think they are key to understanding
both India and Pakistan.
of both countries was designed to manage their ethno-national diversity,
but this was their only similarity. India's State Reorganisation Commission
in 1955 recommended the division and the reorganisation of provincial
units based on language. Unity and integrity of India were paramount,
but ultimately that is what it ended up recommending. It denied those
based on religion, despite the fact that due to the lack of territorial
concentration very few religious states could have been created. Even
when language coincided with religion, it shied away as the religious
angle was shunned as a consequence of partition.
contrast, rejected the recognition of language as a basis of identity,
and embraced the one-unit plan in 1965, and fused her western wing into
one provincial unit. So she rejected language as a basis for recognition
and identity in provincial reorganisation in her western wing, but of
course thereby completely institutionalised it in her eastern wing,
where 95 percent or more of the population spoke Bengali. So it was
something of a paradoxical merger. Both of these
reorganisations are contested within India and Pakistan today. Unsurprisingly,
the one-unit plan is widely derided for causing the break up of the
federation in 1971. What is more surprising, possibly even staggering,
is the following quote from India Today in 1998: "Four decades
ago, the country upturned every tenet of good governance by carving
out new states on the basis of language rather than administrative convenience."
Clearly there is the sense that India should not have done this. So
this is very much a live issue and something which should be explored
feature is taken from a lecture delivered at the London School of Economics
and Political Science on November 21, 2000. Copyright The London
School of Economics and Political Science.