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India going through great democratic churning: historian

India is going through a great democratic churning in which protests against intolerance cannot be divorced from those against sexual violence or corruption that immediately preceded them, an Indian-origin Oxford-based historian has said.

“This probably has to do, at least in part, with tectonic shifts in the socio-economic aspirations, and therefore political allegiances of large segments of the population, from lower castes and minorities to upwardly mobile middle classes and professional young women and men no longer bound by the command of their families,” Faisal Devji told PTI.

Devji, who specialises in studies of Islam, globalization, violence and ethics, said that it is anyone’s guess how these changes, and the resistance to them, will work themselves out.

“However, certain trends seem clear, one being the rise to power of new elites coming from lower middle-class backgrounds in smaller towns, whose aim is not to join the old anglicised elite but displace them,” he said.

“The growing private sector and liberalisation of the economy has also meant that a new arena has come into being for the playing out of both individual and collective identities, a process that no longer takes place in state- controlled circuits alone, and which is thus very difficult to control politically,” said Devji, who was here to deliver a lecture at the New York University Abu Dhabi.