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Civilians and Citizenship: Perspectives on Civil War in South Asia

We need to go beyond conceptions of civilians caught up in civil war as direct participants or supporters of insurgent parties or innocent victims and objects of humanitarian intervention. We need to see them as citizens whose choices and predicaments influence the course of such wars. When such a paradigmatic approach is adopted, new normative and theoretical concerns arise. A discussion of issues that emerged at a workshop on civil war in south Asia.

Civilians and Citizenship: Perspectives on Civil War in South Asia

Aparna Sundar

We need to go beyond conceptions of civilians caught up in civil war as direct participants or supporters of insurgent parties or innocent victims and objects of humanitarian intervention. We need to see them as citizens whose choices and predicaments influence the course of such wars. When such a paradigmatic approach is adopted, new normative and theoretical concerns arise. A discussion of issues that emerged at a workshop on civil war in south Asia.

Aparna Sundar ( is with the department of politics and public administration at Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada.

n the last few years, south Asia has become the site of major civil or internal wars, with both domestic and global consequences.1 In the past year alone, the fierce climax to the three decades long civil war between the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and the Sri Lankan state led to massive deaths and the displacement of thousands into camps. In P akistan two million civilians were displaced during the army “actions” in Swat and South Waziristan last year. In India, some hundred thousand civilians have been displaced from the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh in the last five years in the course of a state-sponsored vigilante counter-insurgency operation against N axalites or Maoist guerrillas. Similar displacements have been going on in the hill regions of Burma for several decades now. The conflict in Kashmir continues to make daily headlines, while those in north-east India also simmer, but relati vely un noticed. There appears to be no clear resolution to the civil war and occupation in Afghanistan, even as Nepal and Sri Lanka work out their very different post-war s ettlements. And in Bangladesh, the war of 1971 remains a political f ault line, with much discussion around how to memorialise it.

The insurgencies listed above differ in their ideology and motivations, with e thnicity/sub-nationalism being the basis of some, and religious or Maoist ideology the basis of others; each also having its own origins in domestic political arrangements. The regimes under which these civil wars are being fought vary – with formal democracies in India and Sri Lanka, transition from military government to democracy in Pakistan, military rule in Burma, and transition from a Hindu kingdom to a republic in Nepal; their geopolitical consequences are likewise not identical. Despite these differences, they have had very similar effects on civilians, due at least in part to the shared prose and hardware of counterinsurgency. Some of these commonalities derive from the spill-over effects of these conflicts across n ational borders and active exchanges b etween states in the present. However, a shared colonial past has also generated common tropes in the history and construction of these conflicts. At the end of February, scholars of south Asia and of civil war came together at a workshop on “Civil War in South Asia” at the Delhi School of Economics to discuss the resonances in their work.2

Civil war, to use Kalyvas’ (2006: 17) definition is “armed combat taking place within the boundaries of a recognised sovereign entity between parties subject to a common authority at the outset of the h ostilities”. In the cases described here (though that may not always be the case in civil wars), one party to the conflict is the state, and questions of state sovereignty, whether in the form of territoriality or constitutional basis (secularism, parliamentary democracy, monarchy) are being challenged. Communal violence, especially when attached to a fully-fledged political programme like that of the Bharatiya J anata Party (BJP), may also be seen as challenging the very constitution of the state, in this case its secular basis. It can also have territory-dividing consequen ces, as in the case of the pre-Partition v iolence. However, a civil war situation may be identified as one where a clear distinction can be made between the armed parties and civilians, regardless of whether or not the armed parties have popular support among the civilians and regardless of whether civilians also e ngage in occasional acts of violence such as stone-throwing, or barricading roads. As Chris Harland of the International Committee of the Red Cross made clear in his presentation at the workshop, this is a legal d istinction, and can have implications for the culpability of the armed a ctors in the conduct of war.

State of the Field

Most of the research on civil war is carried out by security think tanks like the Institute of Defence Studies and Analysis, Delhi;

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the Rand Corporation and the Strategic Studies Institute in the US and is analysed from the perspective of the state (see for example, Jones 2007 on Afghanistan, Marks 2003 on Nepal; see also essays in Marston and Malkasian 2008 on counterinsurgency). Within the social sciences, the bulk of the literature on civil war is within comparative political science, f ocusing on quantitative analysis of casualties, variables leading to civil war, state capacities and state failure, and collective action issues in motivating people to join insurgencies, including ethnicity and religion (see Kalyvas 2006, 2007 for an overview; Fearon and Laitin 2003 on ethnicity and insurgency). Another prominent p erspective is to see civil wars as outcomes of resource conflicts driven by greed, rather than grievance (Collier and Hoeffler 2004).

Most of the anthropological/ethnographic work on civil war has focused on Africa (Mamdani 2007; Richards 1996) or Latin America (Das and Poole 2004; Nelson 2004; Sanford 2003, 2004; Stern 1998; Wood 2003). Within south Asia, there has been some research on Sri Lanka (De Mel 2007; Argenti-Pillen 2003; W inslow and Woost 2004), Nepal (Gellner 2003; Hutt 2004), and Afghanistan (Giustozzi 2008), where the civil wars have been of longer standing; but comparatively little on Bangladesh (1971) as well as

o ngoing civil wars in India, Pakistan, and Burma. In India, while there has been a focus on the meaning and experience of violence (Das, Kleinman and Lock 2001; Mehta and Chatterjee 2007), this has been largely on the phenomenon of communal riots. In short, there has been very little anthropological or even political science work on civil war in south Asia, despite its obvious importance in shaping the politics and culture of the region, and despite the need to correct the standard IR and comparativist as well as security think tank domination of the subject.

While some excellent work is emerging on the connections between the state and violence (Baruah 2009; Coronil and Skurski 2005; Das and Poole 2004; S amaddar 2007); much more needs to be done to theorise the perspective of civilians, the prose of counter-insurgency in the 21st century, as well as questions of citizenship and sovereignty.

Focus of Workshop

The workshop sought to focus on civilian perspectives, citizenship, states and sovereignty within south Asia as a region. Civilians who are caught up in civil wars are conceived of by states, non-state actors, humanitarian agencies and the media in different ways – as direct participants in militias, whether state-sponsored or against the state; as supporters and silent sympathisers of either incumbent or i nsurgent parties; as collateral damage, or as innocent victims of civil war and

o bjects of humanitarian intervention. Only very rarely are they seen as citizens with a voice in the democratic process, whose choices and predicaments influence the course of the civil war. Once, however, the focus is shifted to civilians as citizens, new normative and theoretical concerns arise.

When insurgents and incumbent governments share control of areas or when territory is divided between them, this has consequences for the rights and allegiances of the people living in these areas, as well as questions of sovereignty, democracy and citizenship. When countries which claim to be democratic wage war against sections of their own people, how does this affect the fundamental principles by which they legitimate themselves? For whom or what are these wars waged? How do ordinary people see their own citizenship?

When states are no longer defined by their monopoly on violence, war is outsourced to corporates or militias (Singer 2003) and sovereignty is contested by non-state actors, what are the ideas of the state that people draw on? How do state – effects work in a civil war context? Much recent work on the state, especially in I ndia, has attempted to “see the state” through its everyday administrative practices, reflecting the deep influence of Gramscian notions of hegemony, the work of the subaltern historians, James Scott and Foucauldian concepts of capillary power. Far less attention has been paid to how the state and power, more generally, operates in situations of open conflict, rupture, and challenge to hegemony, where the forms of resistance are not so everyday, and the weapons used are not necessarily those of the weak. This does not, of course, preclude the coexistence of both forms of resistance, and both ways in which state power works, but rather, suggests the need to understand what constitutes the everyday in places at war.

The purposeful mis-recognition of civil war as simply “conflict” or “insurgency” often enhances violence, because contending parties are no longer subject to the laws of war (Kalyvas 2006: 63; but see also Downes 2006 on civilian victimisation in interstate wars). Civil wars are therefore, inevitably, dirty wars, with the greater the degree of civilian support for guerrillas, the greater the mass killing (Valentino et al 2004). In south Asia, the legacy of British colonialism3 in founding notions of authority and describing all challenges as simply insurgency (Hussain 2004) continues in its successor states and influences the ways in which each of them thinks of political challenges and armed resistance. By drawing on a south Asia wide repertoire of civil war, this workshop looked at whether and the way in which a common historical origin influences the way in which different political regimes, whether formal democracies or military dictatorships, deal with civil war. Several of these conflicts might also be seen as deriving from the “unfinished business of decolonisation”. Further, given the way in which the different countries of south Asia are imbricated in each other’s conflicts, many of the phenomena under study cannot be studied in isolation from the histories and politics of their neighbouring countries. This is not an a rgument for ceasing to study each of these conflicts on their own terms, but rather, to see what we can gain from also situating them within a south Asian context. Civil war, then, becomes a lens through which to examine states, sovereignty and citizenship within south Asia as a region, rather than simply on a n ational scale.

A wide array of themes were addressed by the papers and in the discussion following them.

Underlying Social Processes

The origins underlying ideologies and scale of the civil wars in south Asia are quite different – from Maoist insurgencies in Nepal and India to ethnic insurgencies

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in Burma, Sri Lanka, north-east India, B alochistan in Pakistan, to religious movements as represented by the Taliban-Al Qaida armed challenge in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

However, as the paper by Mariam Abou Zahab showed, the struggle between the Taliban and the Afghan state is as much of a struggle between unemployed youth and the less well off against the e ntrenched tribal elite, and Wahabi Islam serves here as an avenue for social mobility; a similar social context was sketched for the Swat valley by Khadim Hussain. Similarly, Maoism may also be read as a path to modernity in a situation where state education and employment facilities are lacking and the party offers both education and a sense of self-respect. A focus on social processes may also help explain participation in national armies: Venugopal’s paper demonstrated how the Sri Lankan army became the single largest public sector employer of educated, rural Sinhala men over precisely the same p eriod that market reform policies were cutting back on other forms of public sector employment. Focusing on the motivations of the insurgents or soldiers and their links with the local population, and on the social processes that lead to participation in insurgency help to understand not just why these civil wars are so intractable, but also address wider issues of s ocial stratification and mobility, which arise in t andem with economic change.

As Hull showed in his paper on ethnic Karen-Burman relations in eastern Burma/ Myanmar, such an understanding of identities as having a history and a social context, but gaining traction because of u nderlying grievances, allows us to challenge both primordialist theories that reduce all conflicts to questions of “natural” identity (ethnic or religious), and instrumentalist theories that see only the hand of elite manipulation in identity construction, without acknowledging the particular experiences and agency of non-elite participants in these projects. On the

o ther hand, as Fazili suggested through his account of local agitations in Kashmir, a focus on local grievances and human rights abuse by the armed forces may be a strategic choice made by civilian actors, and not a sign that they do not also share a larger politics of identity. Further, as was pointed out in the discussion, while a f ocus on fluid and overlapping identities and localised issues is a welcome corrective to conflicts long thought of in terms of timeless identities, one cannot discount the structuring role of state institutions and policies of majoritarian nationalism, for instance, in enforcing difference.

One of the characteristics of civil wars, as against wars between states, is the high rate of civilian involvement on all sides of the battle, as in the large-scale displacements mentioned at the outset. Civilian camps are places of prolonged internment, the outcome of well-established counter-insurgency strategies of “draining the water”, as governments seek to politically and militarily isolate the insurgents. There is little work directly on conditions in the camps (how the camps are managed, how governments and humanitarian agencies think of interned populations; what laws apply to them, both domestic and international humanitarian), but s everal of the papers referenced them in some fashion. Most states assume that c ivilian populations support the combatants morally and politically. So, while direct acts of war and violence may not be justifiably waged against them, they are all similarly subjected to the same bio-political techniques of regulation, the kind of

o bjective, or structural, or everyday/ routine violence that De Mel draws from Das, and others – checkpoints, passes, searches, arbitrary arrests. Papers by Gul on P akistan, Fazili on Kashmir and Longkumer on Nagaland also pointed to the psychological costs of fear, the inability to trust, divisions and insecurity where the state has successfully set up spies to provide information, and created counterinsurgents – in short, infiltrated society. If the state is convinced that every civilian is a combatant supporter, the insurgents also suspect civilians of helping government. Above all, civilians are also not sure who among them supports which side. The daily negotiation of this mined social terrain becomes part of the psychological violence civilians face. The papers by F azli, Hull and Longkumer also opened up a space from which to trace the trajectory of movements, how civilian strategies ebb and flow between an emphasis on local justice and larger ideological goals. This focus on civilian agency enables one to move beyond the commonplace binaries of state and insurgent through which civil wars are usually understood.

Political Economy of Civil War

Examining the political economy of conflicts provides an alternative perspective to explain the longevity and nature of these conflicts. These conflicts include the underlying resource wars as well as displacement as a state strategy for accessing land, mines and forests and the connections to neoliberalism especially in the privatisation of security. Also included are the ways in which institutions like the army and certain political elites benefit from the power and money that accompanies the securitisation of a situation. A theme that both papers on Sri Lanka canvassed in very different but equally rich and productive ways was that of the relationship between the civil war, understood as primarily ethnic, and the neoliberal economy, which has a far older h istory in Sri Lanka than elsewhere in south Asia. While Venugopal looked at how militarisation had proved functional to the success of the market reforms, de Mel’s focus was on the post-conflict period, where reconstruction is conceived of in a “post-political” mode in which the imperatives of capital and consumption have come to replace those of ideology or identity; it is being hoped that the Tamils will take up the invitation to full citizenship through the invitation to consume. At the same time, however, international sanctions related to the prosecution of the war in its last stages threaten the livelihood of women garment workers in the free trade zones, employed thus far under the very same neoliberal regime.

State Contours

Civil war provides rich ground for studying the state for institutionalists, comparativists, and political theorists alike. The range of political regimes across south Asia as well as the varied goals of the i nsurgencies allow for all manner of comparative questions to be asked regarding the institutional aetiology of these conflicts as well their institutional impacts. In terms of the formal outcomes desired by

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the insurgencies, these vary from a direct institutional challenge to the state, as in the case of the Taliban-Al Qaida where the aim is to replace the existing institutions of the state with radically different ones, to control over existing state institutions with the idea of reforming or revolutionising them, as with the Maoists in N epal and India; in Sri Lanka, the LTTE was fighting for a separate state that would likely have replicated most of the institutions of the present Sri Lankan state.

Hussain’s paper on Swat gave an example of such institutional and structural factors in civil war in particular regions of both Pakistan and India (the colonial North-East and North-West Frontier Provinces) which are incorporated under different administrative arrangements and used as buffer areas to fight neighbouring states. Baruah’s paper on the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) traced the c olonial legacy in institutionalising enduring local regimes of exception, so that the Indian Constitution and law itself are constructed to accommodate states of exception. The ability to invoke laws such as AFSPA in “disturbances”, defined as a routine administrative category, allows the Indian state to argue that the AFSPA does not violate the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which India is a signatory. That is because the AFSPA does not invoke the Indian Constitution’s emergency provisions and the armed f orces supplement but do not supplant the civil powers.

The relationship of law and states of exception was also explored by de Mel in her paper. She argued that the Tamil internally displaced people (IDP) camps in Sri Lanka were not outside the law in some Agambenian sense, but were utterly mediated by it. Both through laws like the Prevention of Terrorism Act under which the detainees were held, and in the ways in which they were able to press the Sri Lankan j udicial system on occasion to uphold elements of human rights law within them. But how might one understand the potential of non-exceptional forms of justice to prevail, even if only sporadically, in conditions of war or its aftermath? Does it represent an opening for the war-weary to reclaim full citizenship? Or does it serve to blunt their larger demands, which c hallenge the very ability of the state to provide them a fuller justice?

The relationship of war, the nation and nationalism, and state formation is a particularly fecund area of inquiry for south Asia. From where does the present-day south Asian state derive its claims to sovereignty? Felix Réategui Carillio, a Peruvian sociologist who worked in their Truth and Reconciliation Commission, invited to the workshop as a discussant, used a comparison with Latin America to explore some of these questions. Latin American states, having overthrown colonial rule two centuries ago, are self-confident states, with the work of nation state building long behind them. But the differences between south Asia and Latin America also arises from the nature of the colonial enterprise in each region – Spanish rule in Latin America was totalising, both in terms of creating a new society modelled on the Castillian, and in destroying any large-scale indigenous basis of authority. British colonialism, on the other hand, with its predilection for forms of indirect rule, left intact (or re-inscribed) a diversity of cultural forms and religious, tribal, monarchical and other such bases of a uthority. Thus, whereas class has been the primary vector for insurgent politics in Latin America (with indigeneity only now beginning to challenge the self-definition of the nation), this is not the case in south Asia, where a variety of identity claims and “traditional” forms of authority challenge the work of nation state formation.

It is often in the structures and policies generated by nationalism harnessed to the purposes of electoral majorities or state building, as in the case of Sri Lanka or India, that the roots of ethnic/subnational insurgencies lie. And it is through the workings of nationalism that the ideological basis for prosecuting war against such insurgencies is laid – the state’s use of force against its own citizens may be tolerated only because of the manner in which the construction of national self creates its essential others.

War in the late 20th century does not for the most part have the same constitutive role in nation state formation as in early modern Europe where, in Tilly’s f amous words, “war made the state and the state made war”. Decolonising peoples in Asia and Africa made claims to statehood based on the already established Westphalian principles of the sovereign equality of states, as institutionalised in international law and in bodies like the United Nations. Post-colonial states thus derive their legitimacy as much from this system of states as from their own history of having fought and won power over a given territory, inherited from the coloniser.

Process of Reconstruction

But the international order is itself a lways in a process of reconstruction, with state sovereignty having to contend with principles of human rights, on the one hand, and the interests of powerful states, on the other. Moses’ paper on the war that gave birth to Bangladesh in 1971 provided a complex account of the contending discourses of Pakistani sovereignty and the rights of states versus East Pakistani liberation/self-determination, or allegations of genocide and calls for international h umanitarian intervention, versus geopolitical considerations in the cold war context where Pakistan was an important western ally and potential bridge to C hina. By pointing to the multiplicity of actors involved in these debates, he suggested that it might be possible and necessary to distinguish between a system of states, on the one hand, and the “international community” on the other, with each pressing for different principles. But if actors within this “international community” may stand for humanitarian principles distinct from the interests of particular states, they are not necessarily and inevitably independent of them either. In her paper on the response of international development agencies to the war in Nepal, Temang showed how the US agencies emphasised the war on terror, while the Scandinavian agencies focused on human rights. The parallels between the Sri Lankan state’s ability to garner support from other states to resist international sanctions over its conduct of the war last year, and the Pakistani state’s ability to r esist similar interventions three decades ago, suggest that the evolution of what Mamdani (2007) has called “the New H umanitarian Order”, has yet to decisively weaken the Westphalian state system. U nder this, sovereignty is redefined in

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terms of the state’s responsibility to its people, and its failure to uphold this responsibility constitutes grounds for intervention by the “international community”.

The redefinition of state sovereignty under the new humanitarian order may be part of a new liberal imperialism, used to justify a continued presence in Afghanistan, for instance. But the older forms of imperialism continue to hold: the wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan cannot be under stood without an analysis of the

o peration of American interests in the r egion. As Reategui pointed out, while cold war interventions devastated Latin America more extensively than south Asia, with the exception, of course, of A fghanistan and Pakistan, Latin America has been largely bypassed by the “war on terror” with its “clash of civilisations” l ogic, whereas south Asia has become a central theatre. Because of this, however, much of the writing on the Afghanistan-Pakistan wars has been framed within a debate that attempts to cast them as e ither primarily culturalist assertions, or as anti-imperialist in some fashion. But perhaps we need an approach that will a llow us to see them as both, and as also about local issues and arrangements, and about peculiarly south Asian struggles around nationalism and sovereignty, post-colonial state forms, difference and citizenship.

The need to understand these conflicts as regional, rather than national, is u nderscored by the spillover effects of these conflicts, through refugees, as in the case of Bangladesh and India, or through potentially irredentist nationalisms. Neighbouring states thus become party to the conflict, particularly if they see themselves as regional powers, as I ndia does. India has intervened militarily in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, and through other kinds of diplomatic and economic pressures in Nepal and present-day Sri Lanka. Part of the tension in Kashmir and in Pakistan is over Pakistan’s unwillingness to accept this hegemonic role for India. A south Asian perspective on civil war might prove useful in illuminating the workings of Indian power in the region.

Sovereignty can be seen not as an inevitable attribute of the state derived from the fact of recognition by other states, but as a contingent set of practices, in which militants, states and others are more or less successful in enforcing their writ over limited areas. This way, understanding how ordinary people experience their situation both under the official state regime and the parallel regimes of the insurgents can provide new material for thinking through questions of control, ideology and sovereignty. To quote from Samaddar’s paper, we need to “rid the notion of sovereignty of any metaphysical implication, ‘secularise’ the concept, and see it as a practical tool of organising relations”. As an instance of sovereignty being worked out in dialogue, and through a practical politics, the paper cited the Naga leader Muivah as proposing a form of “shared sovereignty” in the form of a federation of India and Nagaland (not unlike the Quebec nationalist proposal of “sovereignty-association” with Canada), and asked why we might not be willing to return to the historical forms of dispersed sovereignty that existed prior to the dominance of idea of the state as sole sovereign power.

In other cases, sovereignty may be seen as shared with a quite different set of a ctors, and states appear to be wilfully dissolving themselves, with consequences for the longevity of state institutions as well as accountability. What are the longterm implications of outsourcing arms to civilian militias to take on militants (as in Afghanistan, Pakistan and central India), the state sponsorship of militants to fight against neighbouring states, or the incorporation of surrendered militants (Ikhwan in Kashmir, surrendered United Liberation Front of Asom-ULFA in north-east India, Karuna and Pillaiyan in Sri Lanka) to fight against their former comrades? How does the rise of a privatised military industry affect the way we think about states and their monopoly over violence? In a somewhat different vein, questions of shared sovereignty might also be seen to arise, as Temang described for Nepal, when donor agencies and international NGOs become key development actors, and play an agenda-setting role in d omestic policymaking. One wonders if these latter examples might cause some discomfort with Samaddar’s otherwise appealing call to rethink sovereignty.

Post-War Settlements and the Shift to the ‘Postpolitical’

Samaddar made the distinction between reasons of state and reasons of government, what one might otherwise call the political and the “postpolitical”, Slavoj Zizek’s term for the call to move beyond ideological struggle to embrace capital a ccumulation and consumption that characterises the present moment. As with de Mel’s Sri Lankan cast, in T emang’s paper on Nepal, transnational development a ctors emphasised a “postpolitical” development as a means to conflict-resolution.

But this development is heavily securitised, for instance in the form of free trade zones that are also high security zones, making uncertain the prospects for full citizenship and democracy. This leads to a host of other questions, relevant both to the post-conflict period and to the period of conflict. What is the role of civil society, and of the public, in legitimising securitisation and accepting or contesting state claims around the threat of the “other”. Within civil society, or the public sphere, one might think about the work of peace movements, and when and why they grow stronger. Equally, one might examine the work of memorialisation, by states and by insurgent movements or insurgent armies, in the work of post-conflict reconciliation, or in reminding the public of the impossibility of peace without justice. Important here is the role of the media and how it participates in this process of memorialisation or erasure, and through the course of the conflict itself, in creating compliant or argumentative publics, in participating in nationalist projects, and in normalising spaces of exception.

The workshop was timely, given that the ongoing civil wars and mass displacement in south Asia have consequences not just for the region, but for politics and culture on a global scale. In the rare cases where conflicts appear to have been r esolved, either democratically (Nepal) or militarily (Bangladesh and Sri Lanka) the long-term causes which gave rise to them remain, inviting further explorations of

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democracy, nationhood and justice. More than a conference report, then, this article is intended as a research manifesto.


1 South Asia is geographically defined here to include Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Burma, i e, the broad contours of the British Empire, although Nepal, of course, was never part of it.

2 The workshop was jointly organised by Nandini Sundar at the sociology department, Delhi University, and Aparna Sundar at the department of politics, Ryerson University, Toronto, and funded by the Wenner Gren Foundation, New York and Delhi University.

3 It is important to bear in mind that Nepal was never colonised, and Afghanistan’s history is one of almost constant resistance to colonisation; this was also true of many of the peoples and states incorporated into India and Pakistan at independence. Colonial dominance was never total across the region, but its institutional influence in the post-colonial present is often felt in areas beyond those under direct rule. In any case, these very differences are productive for comparative i nquiry.


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Wood, Elizabeth (2003): Insurgent Collective Action and Civil War in El Salvador (Cambridge University Press).


Windows of Opportunity


A ruminative memoir by one who saw much happen, and not happen, at a time when everything seemed possible and promising in India. K S Krishnaswamy was a leading light in the Reserve Bank of India and the Planning Commission between the 1950s and 1970s. He offers a ringside view of the pulls and pressures within the administration and outside it, the hopes that sustained a majority in the bureaucracy and the lasting ties he formed with the many he came in contact with. Even more relevant is what he has to say about political agendas eroding the Reserve Bank’s autonomy and degrading the numerous democratic institutions since the late 1960s.

Pp xii + 190 ISBN 978-81-250-3964-8 2010 Rs 440

Available from

Orient Blackswan Pvt Ltd Mumbai Chennai New Delhi Kolkata Bangalore Bhubaneshwar Ernakulam Guwahati Jaipur Lucknow Patna Chandigarh Hyderabad Contact:

may 1, 2010 vol xlv no 18

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