A hallmark of Indian politics, ethnic tension have escalated dramatically since the 1980s, endangering India's unity as a sovereign democracy. Although a succession of governments has attempted to resolve them, these conflicts have weakened India's role as the dominant power in the region. This work examines the connections between internal and external policy and explores the ways in which domestic tensions, particularly arising from ethnic and sectarian heterogenity, shape India's role in the region. The book studies movements in Punjab, Kashmir and Tamil Nadu, which escalated throughout the 1980s and influenced India's relations with Pakistan and Sri Lanka. It argues that India does not seek hegemony in South Asia; instead it acts to protect its nation-building efforts from similar problems faced by neighbouring countries. Paradoxically, this goal requires India to intervene in neighbouring countries ethnic conflicts.

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