The Making of a Small State: Populist Social Mobilisation and the Hindi Press in the Uttarakhand Movement
Anup Kumar
140 x 216 mm
Year of Publishing
Territorial Rights
Orient BlackSwan

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.

Anup Kumar is Assistant Professor of Communication in the School of Communication, Cleveland State University.

List of Tables
List of Maps
Preface and Acknowledgements
List of Abbreviations


  1. Amar Ujala and Dainik Jagran in the Pahari Public Sphere
  2. Imagining Uttarakhand: Politics of the Elites and Grass-roots Activism (1920–1994)
  3. Claiming the Public Space: Transformation of a Student Agitation into a Jan Andolan
  4. Uttarakhand Emerges as a Populist Demand
  5. Protest at Its Apogee and the Co-optation of the Jan Andolan
  6. Conclusion: Jan Andolan-Press Interaction and Collapse of the Public Space
Epilogue: Uttarakhand after Statehood (2000–2010)

“This is not only a fascinating and well written study of a regional movement and the creation of a new Indian hill state, it is also an important contribution to the literature on Hindi journalism. Furthermore, the book addresses theoretically significant questions about the interface between popular social movements and the mass media. Anup Kumar has written a compelling account of the mutual dependence between a ‘culture of protest’ and a ‘culture of news’.”

- Per Ståhlberg, Senior Lecturer, Södertörn University, Stockholm,
and author of The Lucknow Daily.

The Making of a Small State prepares the way for important new hypotheses about how news media, political protest and state power link together. Challenging Benedict Anderson’s equation of print capitalism with the growth of a liberal polity, Anup Kumar presents meticulous research to show how Hindi newspapers in northern India created a new platform for popular protest, leading however to a more illiberal polity but with a bigger news market. The author shows a rare engagement with ground-level political developments, and shows how prevailing theoretical models need revision. Strongly recommended.”

- Arvind Rajagopal, Professor, Media Studies, New York University,
and author of Politics After Television

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