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

Articles By State

Language, Purity, and the Logic of Democracy

It is argued here that the 1648 “Peace of Westphalia,” inaugurating the “secular state,” substituted language for religion as the basis for the state’s project of affectively unifying the nation. Working to build a truly neutral state, equally available to all its citizens, involves ensuring the freedom of critical discourse to question the proto-hegemonic narrative associated with every primordial (religious or linguistic) affi liation. The Westphalian-style sanctifi cation of these affi liations becomes pathological in a society that worships purity and hierarchy. Peggy Mohan, it is argued, provides a cogent characterisation of language on the basis of which one can overcome such pathologies and work towards a chauvinism-free model of democracy.

After Pulwama: War Widows and the Construction of Veer Nari in India

India has the highest number of war widows in the world, and yet there is little research on the lived experiences of war widows in India. Upon the death of an army officer, his wife is ensured a pension only if she remains unmarried within the family or marries the living eligible heir of her deceased husband’s family. The widow of an armed forces member who has laid down his life for the nation, whether in war or in a military operation is termed a “veer nari”.  This essay looks into the state’s oppression through its influence on the family, and an ultimate control over a war-widow’s agency and sexuality.

Sex Work, Sex Trafficking, and Myopia of the State

Why does the state fail to notice that a girl/woman entering prostitution, either through coercion or choice, is the same one who got married early, never went to school, or struggled in informal labour markets from an early age? From being consistently invisible in the pre-sex work phase of her life, what makes a sex worker so visible in the eyes of the state? What does this reveal of the state rather than the sex worker? The answers to these questions could help us think of sex workers’ lives beyond the narrow debates of trafficking versus sex work, making them part of more mainstream development concerns.

State Policy and Recruitment of Domestic Workers and Nurses to West Asia

This paper analyses the comparative political economy of overseas recruitment policy towards nurses and women domestic workers by examining the disproportionate influence of specific interest groups. Shocking irregularities in private recruitment of nurses forced government intervention in 2015, but subsequent interventions and failure to empower state-run agencies to compete on even terms underline the power of private recruiters. Even as the government yields to demand from destination countries and business lobbies for migrant domestic workers, it fails to hear workers’ concerns about their rights. Thus, migrant workers continue to pay the price of systemic problems that plague overseas recruitment.