alexa State Autonomy, Nationality Question and Self-Determination in India- Response of the State

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State Autonomy, Nationality Question and Self-Determination in India- Response of the State

The key concepts in this paper are ‘state autonomy’, ‘selfdetermination’ and ‘nationality’. This section will, therefore, make an attempt at conceptualizing the aforesaid terms. As far as the concept of ‘nationality’ is concerned, it may be observed that although ‘nationality’ is commonly understood as a derivative of ‘nation’, it can describe a different phenomenon. In Central Europe, the difference between the words ‘national’ and ‘nationality’ developed into a very significant distinction, viz., between the ‘nation-state’ on the one hand and the ‘state of nationalities’ on the other. The first stood for one-nation state and the second for multi-national state. This became a hotly debated issue between the leading nation and national minorities in the successor states of the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman Empires.

The official terminology in the communist states has interpreted ‘nation’ as the majority ethnic group in a state and ‘nationality’ as an ethnic minority in that state. A similar distinction has also been suggested by E.K. Francis, a sociologist who considers ‘nation’ as the dominant ethnie in the state. He regards ‘nationality’ as an imperfect nation, i.e., an ethnic minority which as a community has acquired some acknowledgement, in the form of an autonomous or protected status, in a state of another nation. If several nationalities within a state reach more or less equal footing, Francis describes the state as ‘multi-ethnic nation-state. In other words, Francis seeks to identify a nation, in one way or the other, with a state. This does not really clarify the terms. Nevertheless, in the context of this paper, the term ‘nationality’ will be understood as a minority ethnic group which asserts its rights through political action and political mobilisation.


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