A Sikh separatist movement in India recently renewed its calls to establish a sovereign state called Khalistan. A young activist named Amritpal Singh leads the movement, which has attracted the attention of Sikh diasporas. It has also become increasingly anti-government. It is critical of Hindu nationalism and backed farmers demonstrating against the government.
The Sikh movement illustrates the core challenge of India as a state. India’s population is extremely diverse, comprising many ethnic and religious identities. This makes governance difficult. Local political parties reflecting special interests have outsize power relative to national-level parties, which often need to partner with the local parties to win state elections. Local conflicts are also a drain on the central government’s time and resources.