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

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On 'Security'

In a short article, “On Security and Terror,” Giorgio Agamben reminded us that “security” as the basic principle of state politics dates back to the birth of the modern state. He further argued that in the course of a gradual neutralisation of politics and the progressive surrender of traditional tasks of the state, security “now becomes the sole criterion of political legitimation.”

The “legal civil war” declared by the Indian state against the Jawaharlal Nehru University bears out Agamben’s observation. The recent presentation of Aadhaar Bill in Parliament as a money bill is another prominent instance of the state’s concern with security. In his critique of the Aadhaar Bill, Jean Dreze has warned us that Aadhaar opens the door to mass surveillance, and “mass surveillance per se is an infringement of democracy and civil liberties, even if the government does not act upon it.” According to Agamben, the danger lies in the fact that measures of security work towards depoliticisation of society. The state’s politics in India poses this danger against which we should raise our voices.

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