Discuss the impact of post-liberal economy on ethnic identity and communalism.

Model Answer

Introduction

Post-liberal economy in India refers to the period after Liberalization, Privatization and Globalization reforms i.e. 1991-2001 onwards. It marks a shift from a largely government regulated and controlled economy towards an open-market driven and private investment led one.

Body

The impact of post-liberal economy on ethnic identity and communalism has been as follows:

Positive:

  1. With faster growth there has been a general de-emphasis on ethnic and communal identities. As prosperous times bring more focus to developmental economics and access to avenues of social mobility.
  2. Faster growth meant more welfare expenditure which brought the vulnerable sections out of poverty. This led to reduced ethnic and communal clashes as well as perception of relative deprivation amongst communities decreased. 

Negative:

  • As migration increased with regionally imbalanced development with private capital concentration, so did ‘Son of the Soil’ movements against migrants. These strengthened ethnic identities. 
  • The inflow of private capital also led to land acquisition in forested regions resulting in tribal displacement. These displaced tribals often got assimilated with mainstream losing their distinctive identities and way of life in the process. 
  • The post-liberal economies also brought western cultural onslaught resulting in Mcdonaldization or homogenization of culture and identities – English, pop music, disco, burgers etc. The Fundamentalist reaction to this perceived threat to identity, led to the rise of fringe groups promoting ethnic, religious and linguistic nationalism. 
  • As Gulf money poured in, changing land ownership patterns between communities, for example in Kerela, communal currents have simmered.

Conclusion

Ethnic identities and communalism are often more about concerns of relative deprivation and power struggles than community culture or religion itself. Inclusive growth has the potential to redress these parochial tendencies.

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