This paper explores the role of identity-based, or discriminatory, policy in facilitating the outbreak of ethnopolitical violence in India. A discriminatory policy is the merging of communal group identity with the state apparatus. It is argued that as the Indian government enacts policies beneficial or discriminatory to particular identity groups within the country, other groups feel threatened. Groups who feel disadvantaged by the policy may begin to fear for their own security and political interests motivating them to rebel. When focusing on Indian policy and ethnopolitical violence during the period 1945 to 2000, the authors find that, although there are many cases of seemingly spontaneous episodes of violence, when identitybased policies do occur, they are often followed by violence and/or protest.

Author Bio(s)

Marie Olson Lounsbery completed her doctorate at Wayne State University (WSU) in 2003 and is a newly appointed Assistant Professor of Conflict Resolution and International Studies at Nova Southeastern University (NSU), in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. She has published articles in Social Science Quarterly, Encyclopedia of Violence, Peace and Conflict, Journal of Peace Research, and Conflict Resolution Quarterly. Her research and teaching interests include the causes, processes, and resolution of international conflict, particularly identity-based intrastate conflict, and metropolitan conflicts.

Frederic S. Pearson is the Director of the Center for Peace and Conflict Studies and the Detroit Council for World Affairs at WSU. A native Detroiter who spent 20 years teaching at the University of Missouri in St. Louis, Dr. Pearson is also Professor of Political Science at WSU, and received his Ph.D. in 1971 from the University of Michigan. He is a recognized authority in the fields of international military intervention, arms transfer effects on wars, and ethnic conflict analysis. He and John Sislin published Arms and Ethnic Warfare in 2001. Other recent articles include a study of mediator effectiveness in ending civil wars in the Conflict Resolution Quarterly (with Olson).


communal group identity, ethnopolitical violence, India, policy-making, security and political interests, violence

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