ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Bureaucracy and Border Control

Studies on militarisation and borders in South Asia have often remained focused on zones of spectacular conflict such as Kashmir, or Punjab during the partition. This article tracks the production of a discourse on borders by those charged with border security such as the police and other senior bureaucracy in the decades following the partition. It suggests that the “border question” evolved gradually out of a series of everyday concerns over local criminality that finally coalesced into the more abstract category of “national security.” It examines bureaucratic debates on police reorganisation in Kutch between 1948 and 1952 to suggest that contemporary discourses on nation and borders were arrived at through intra-bureaucratic negotiations with the far less abstract categories of village, locality and region.

The Region and Its Margins

What is Gujarat? This paper addresses the question drawing on ethnographic research from Kutch and discusses the historical process by which a modern Gujarati identity has been constructed for the region, stressing the importance of representations of the border in the state's depiction of itself. It shows how advertisements, songs and other visual and aural productions have been used by the state to portray consensus over the cultural parameters that define the state. Regional histories are never uniform constructions and Gujarat has not been a stable construction through time.

Lesson from the Past

Forging a Region: Sultans, Traders and Pilgrims in Gujarat, 1200-1500 by Samira Sheikh

Capitalism, Multiculturalism and Tolerance: A Perspective on 'Vibrant Gujarat'

"Vibrant Gujarat" is not just about the kind of economic development that makes for an "India Shining" campaign. It is also about the caste, class and religious divides, regional imbalances and the imperatives of defining borders and boundaries. The very currents that have contributed to a remarkably mixed and synthetic social fabric have also over a period of time led to certain unique social, religious and cultural trends that give Gujarat its distinct character.

Defining a Border

If national cultures are considered by their guardian states as bounded and homogeneous, territorial boundaries must also aspire to be social and cultural boundaries. In the context of Kachchh and Sindh, the border remains socially fluid even after decades of its territorial demarcation. But even as states attempt to nationalise their frontier spaces, inhabitants of frontier areas are not always passive subjects in the process. They need not always contest the state project; in fact, they may take decisions, based on their own particular circumstances, that unintentionally bolster the nationalist state project of defining borders. The paper discusses the migration of harijans from TharParkar, Sindh into Kachchh in 1971 and the implications of such a planned move for the themes above.
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