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Discursive (in)securities and postcolonial anxiety: Enabling excessive militarism in India

Journal article
Authors Swati Parashar
Published in Security Dialogue
Volume 49
Issue 1-2
Pages 123-135
ISSN 0967-0106
Publication year 2018
Published at School of Global Studies
Pages 123-135
Language en
Keywords India, Maoist movement, militarism, postcolonial anxiety, postcolonial state, security, development nexus, security, citizenship, conflict, war, International Relations
Subject categories Globalization Studies, Other Social Sciences


This article queries the intimate relationship between militarism and the state, which is seen as the by-product of postcolonial anxiety' (Krishna, 1999) related to the survival of the nation-state in the Third World. This anxiety enables militarism at various levels of governance and state interventions in the everyday lives of the citizenry. The article engages with the historical trajectory of the Indian state to argue that its postcolonial anxiety' engenders militarism not in the immediate aftermath of independence from colonial rule, as in other postcolonial states, but as an anomaly since the end of the Cold War and the advent of globalization. The Indian state rejected militarism immediately after independence, but subsequently used it sporadically to deal with armed insurgencies in the 1970s and 1980s. The popular endorsement of militarism in India coincides with the globalized world order of the 1990s, the move to democratize security' in discourse and practice, and the adoption of neoliberal developmentalism to catch up' with the modern' trajectory of the European nation-states. I argue that this has led to excessive militarism' that thrives on the shared consensus between the state and citizens that security is a collective enterprise in which the material and affective labour of militarism must be performed by both sides. Citizens embrace military logics and military ethos, both to contest the state's violence and to confer legitimacy on the state and secure development benefits. The article concludes that militarism opens up new spaces for understanding the complex statebuilding processes of postcolonial societies, the fraught and textured relationship between the state and citizens, and the constant tensions and negotiations between civilian lives and military culture.

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