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

Articles By Irfan Ahmad

Democracy in Jail

Based on data from the Prison Statistics India, this article demonstrates an over-representation of minorities such as Muslims, Adivasis, and Dalits in Indian jails. It offers an anthropological and sociological analysis of this over-representation. The authors connect it to structural–political factors, a connection the scant Indian literature rarely makes. They relate the data to literature on over-representation of minorities in jails in Western democracies, about which scholars use terms such as “penal democracy” and “punishing democracy.” The authors then draw on recent memoirs of imprisoned Indian “terrorists,” and argue that their imprisonment generates a notion of democracy that is conceivably an alternative. At its heart is the identification imprisonment generates amongst fellow humans through a shared vocabulary of injustice, pain, human finitude, and vulnerability.

The Categorical Revolution: Democratic Uprising in the Middle East

The protests over the past year across the "Middle East" are perhaps saying that the region first and foremost belongs to its people and that the categories of "oil-rich", "oil-less" and "main route" are at best exciting materials for a historian's archive. While unfolding this "categorical revolution", this article explodes two key myths: (1) that of the terminology of the Middle East, and (2) Islam's incompatibility with democracy.

The Secular State and the Geography of Radicalism

The burgeoning scholarship on Islamist radicalisation or terrorism - both popular as well as academic - is mostly alarmist. Too often Islamist radicalisation is understood as an offshoot of some deeply entrenched values or that the culture of Islam is incompatible with modernity. This article argues that Islamist radicalisation should be seen as a political phenomenon and that it cannot be divorced from the practices and the role of the State. It focuses on the Students Islamic Movement of India and argues that its radicalisation, manifest in its call for jihad, is largely a consequence of the failure of the Indian secular State to stop the recurring violence against Muslim minority. This article also examines the premises that underpin the media's portrayal of Islam and Muslims and concludes by raising the issue of vulnerability in writing about Islam and radicalisation.