Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Civil Wars in South Asia

Civil Wars in South Asia: State, Sovereignty, Development

edited by Aparna Sundar and Nandini Sundar

Sage 2014.

South Asia has become the site of major civil or internal wars, with both domestic and global consequences. The conflict in Kashmir, for example, continues to make headlines, while those in the Northeast and central India simmer, though relatively unnoticed. There appears to be no clear resolution to the civil war and occupation in Afghanistan, even as Nepal and Sri
Lanka work out their very different post-war settlements. In Bangladesh, the war of 1971 remains a political fault line, as the events around the War Crimes Tribunal show.

This volume demonstrates the importance of South Asia as a region to deepening the study of civil wars and armed conflicts and, simultaneously, illustrates how civil wars open up questions of sovereignty, citizenship and state contours. By engaging these broader theoretical debates, in a field largely dominated by security studies and comparative politics, it contributes to the study of civil wars, political sociology, anthropology and political theory.

This volume is one of the few books that is genuinely and equally representative of scholarship across South Asia, contributing not just to the study of civil wars, but also to the study of South Asia as a region.

Introduction: Sovereignty, Development and Civil War Aparna Sundar and Nandini Sundar
Contextualizing Civil Wars in South Asia Nandini Sundar
Sri Lanka: Military Fiscalism and the Politics of Market Reform at a Time of
Civil War
Rajesh Venugopal
The Transnational Political Economy of Civil War in Afghanistan Alessandro Monsutti
Aid and Violence: Development, Insurgency and and Social Transformation
in Nepal
Antonio Donini and Jeevan Raj Sharma
Civil War or Genocide? Britain and the Secession of East Pakistan in1971 A Dirk Moses
The Rise of Jihadi Militancy in Pakistan’s Tribal Areas Haris Gazdar, Yasser Kureshi and Asad
Routine Emergencies: India’s Armed Forces Special Powers Act Sanjib Baruah
Local Agitations in a Globalized Context: A Case Study of Shopian and
Bomai Gowhar Fazili
Articulating Grievance in Southeast Myanmar Stephen Campbell

Saturday, September 6, 2014

No surprises here: Modi's Naxalite policy

One area in which the Modi government’s first 100 days has brought absolutely no surprises is the policy on Naxalites. Everything is as predicted, from increased militarization to the vitiation of environmental protections.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Felling the Straw Man

Having grown up on stories of Bunker Roy’s admirable work in Tilonia, I was distressed to read his article, “The Barefoot Government”. If this inconsistent, empirically flawed argument is any example of the kind of thinking he wants our educational system to encourage, there is something ‘dreadfully wrong’ with his proposed reforms.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Mimetic Sovereignties, precarious citizenship: state effects in a looking glass world

Just published in the Journal of Peasant Studies

This article explores the way in which the Indian state and the incipient Maoist state in central India mimic while repudiating each other.  As against theories of sovereignty which see it either as authored from below (contract theory) or scripted from above (domination), or irrelevant to the extent that subject and state are co-constituted by regimes of power (cf. Foucault), I argue that in civil war, the display and practical exercise of statehood and sovereignty is critical. However, this is primarily aimed not at putative citizens but at the enemy. I look at the way in which the Indian state impersonates guerilla tactics in order to fight the Maoists, and the way in which the Maoists mimic state practices of governmentality. Each side identifies its own ‘citizens’ through uniforms, lists of people killed, and inscribes its ‘territory’ with memorials to its martyrs.  For the presumed citizens of these mimetic states, however, it is precisely these markers of identity and legibility which make them more vulnerable. Membership of parallel regimes holds out both promise and precarity.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

FYUP row: It's time to put the institution first

FYUP row (Hindustan Times, 25 June)

Where Are The War Poets ?

They who in folly or mere greed
Enslaved religion, markets, laws,
Borrow our language now and bid
Us to speak up in freedom’s cause. 

It is the logic of our times,
No subject for immortal verse –
That we who lived by honest dreams
Defend the bad against the worse.                                   

 Cecil Day Lewis.

If it were not so near home, the farce unfolding over Delhi University’s Four Year Undergraduate Program (FYUP) would be entirely funny. To have Madhu Kishwar accuse Smriti Irani of being an agent of the left, and to have the left describe the UGC take over of the university as a great victory is bad enough, without the added spectacle of a divided Congress unable to decide whether the FYUP is much loved or much hated. The fact is, the university had no business passing the FYUP in the manner that it did, but the UGC has even less business going over the heads of the university administration and the academic council. If today it can write directly to College Principals threatening to withdraw funding unless they revert to a three-year program, tomorrow it might do the same unless they agree to implement courses in Vedic astrology or compulsory Hindi teaching in all courses.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Do elections ensure democracy?

In a competitive bid to bare each other’s dirty linen this election season, political parties have raised the ghosts of 1984’s Sikh massacres and 2002’s Muslim pogroms. Each party claims that the other is guilty, but as for itself, it has been given, in that peculiarly Indian phrase, a ‘clean chit’.  

Mr. Modi tells us he will be found innocent in the “people’s court”,  and was “waiting to hear their verdict”.  Clearly Mr. Modi has no regard for any other kind of court, least of all a constitutionally appointed judiciary. He is not alone in this - every major political party seems to believe that winning elections is an alternative to judicial accountability.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Everywhere a Maoist Plot

By going to town as the Chhattisgarh police and media have recently done on my alleged Maoist links, the real questions have been sidelined. As citizens of this country do we have the right to protest democratically and constitutionally, and as journalists, researchers or human rights activists, are we free to pursue our vocation?