South Asia

Organized Panel Session

4 - Democratizing Dissent: Akali Politics, 1967-84

Saturday, July 7
4:30 PM - 6:00 PM
Location: Chinar, First Floor

This paper explores the various iterations of Sikh plans for political autonomy and decentralization in the period between Master Tara Singh’s death in 1967 and the Indian Army’s siege of the Golden Temple in 1984. The intervening years witnessed epochal changes in both the Congress and Akali hierarchy. My paper limns the shared conceptual and ideological angst that pervaded the Akali-Congress exchange in the wider context of electoral politics. The regional scramble for power in the sixties and seventies, and the accompanying ferment, intersected with the Center’s centralizing imperatives and the turmoil of the Emergency era. What place does regional autonomy have in the Indian republic? How does the nation-state engage with demands for greater autonomy and how do minorities negotiate with questions of political sovereignty? These questions gesture towards grave issues underlying the Center-State relationship and the intersection of minority assertions of political sovereignty with democratic politics.

Avinash Singh

Brandeis University, United States

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