Overview for The Making of a Small State: Populist Social Mobilisation and the Hindi Press in the Uttarakhand Movement
In 1994, the reactionary student agitation against OBC reservations metamorphosed into a jan andolan (populist social mobilisation) for creation of Uttarakhand state. This study conceptualises jan andolan as a non-party populist political process that temporarily claims public space and often relies on the press to get its voices heard in the corridors of power. The mobilisation for Uttarakhand was led by social activists and civic leaders, who formed the Uttarakhand Samyukta Sangharsh Samitis, and was supported by the Hindi press, particularly Amar Ujala and Dainik Jagran.
Moving beyond explanations based on electoral caste politics, The Making of a Small State traces the roots of the political imagination of Uttarakhand in the series of socio-ecological protests, such as dhandaks (peasant protests) and Chipko. The study suggests that the new regional movements are manifestations of political and economic deprivation. They highlight developmental regionalism and the demand to restore community’s control over jal, jungle and zameen.
However, the paradox of the jan andolan was that the samitis, inspite of their wide social base, failed to emerge as a political alternative. The study suggests that internal contradictions in the samitis, the dependency on the press and the news culture opened the opportunity for the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress to co-opt the movement for statehood and undermine the core socio-ecological issues by colonising the public space that was created by the andolan.
This book is for both academic and general readers who are interested in news media research, populist mobilisation, and political imagination of new regional identities.