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Scholars have paid significant attention to the linguistic reorganisation of states in India but there is less consideration of how the demands of linguistic movements to redraw the map of India is linked to the history of partition across the colonial-postcolonial divide as well as of the new minorities that linguistic states created. This article draws attention at first to the unsuccessful pre-partition resistance of Sindhi Hindus to the separation of Sindh from the Bombay Presidency on linguistic lines as separation would make them a religious minority. The article then discusses Sindhi resettlement in India as deterritorialised partition refugees, when they had to claim belonging in the context of reinvigorated calls for the redistribution of boundaries based on linguistic majorities. As an alternative to territorial representation, Sindhi refugees successfully sought inclusion in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution of India, a list of officially supported languages meant originally to enrich Hindi. This history reveals how partition and partition's refugees reshaped constitutional conceptions of minority citizenship in a manner not yet acknowledged. The inclusion of Sindhi in the Eighth Schedule transformed the Schedule's primary purpose from that of augmenting Hindi to additionally conferring protections to a group of minority languages. The Sindhi demand for inclusion paved the way for other minorities whose linguistic identity did not necessarily map neatly on to a geographically defined state to claim recognition in the Schedule. This opened a new but limited option for constitutional safeguards for linguistic minorities without a linguistic state in India.

Original publication




Journal article


Taylor & Francis Online

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