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

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Lost Legitimacy

Your editorial “Development with Brutality” (EPW, 15 October 2011), written in the context of an act of state terror against the opposition to the Dibang hydroelectric project in Arunachal Pradesh, raises a fundamental question concerning the legitimacy of the Indian state. The editorial highlights a growing trend in the use of the coercive power of the State against those resisting the destruction of their lives and livelihoods by super profit-driven corporate capita lists. Because of this trend, you contend that the State is liable to lose its legiti macy “sooner rather than later”. How ever, it is arguable that, in the perception of the people adver sely a ffected by brutalised development, the State has already lost its legitimacy. It is doubtful whether the State possesses any legiti macy whatever among adivasis and others facing repression in, for example, the mining belts in Chhattisgarh, Orissa, and Jharkhand.

The loss of legitimacy on the part of the State is discernible in other spheres too: in its handling of the nationality question, where the use of brute force takes precedence over politics, and the failure of its police and judicial institutions to deliver justice to the victims of pogroms among minorities. It is difficult to believe that the State enjoys even an iota of legitimacy in the eyes of the ordinary people in Jammu and Kashmir and in the north-east suffering everyday violence and prolonged repression due to the draconian Armed Forces S pecial Powers Act. Further, it is perhaps a truism that the legitimacy of the State would be in doubt among the survivors of large-scale targeted violence among minorities, including Muslims, Sikhs, and Christians, who are unlikely to ever get justice.

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