Issues of culture and identity have continually been a feature of Indian politics since 1947. This has been demonstrated by chronic problems, such as the status of regional languages and religious and ethnic identities, to which the Indian political system has had to respond. During the last two decades of the twentieth century India witnessed a sustained intensification of politics based around such issues. Dramatic, violent images such as those related to communal conflict in Gujarat and the insurgency in Kashmir have attracted international attention, but throughout the country politics has become progressively preoccupied with what it means to be Indian, Hindu, Marathi-speaking and so on: a multiplicity of identities which have been asserted increasingly when contesting the spaces of Indian politics. The old certainties of planned development, secularism and stable centrist government upon which the Nehruvian idea of the composite Indian nation rested have increasingly been called into question.