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

SecularisationSubscribe to Secularisation

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.

Secularising the 'Secular'

The Taj Mahal can also be seen as a religious place of worship, as the local Muslim community is allowed to offer prayers at the mosque situated inside the Taj complex. The monument is also privy to two kinds of publics - a congregation that offers prayers at the mosque, paying no attention to the central building, and a "public", which stays at the central building and seems to follow the given official meanings of the Taj as a world heritage site. Is it possible to look at the Taj merely as a secular historical monument? If yes, how can we respond to the religious meanings embedded in the very architectural composition of the buildings? Are Muslims, as a religious minority, entitled to use spaces such as the mosque in the Taj Mahal to offer congregational prayers? This article explores these questions to understand the practice and politics of "secularism" in postcolonial India.
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