Black Lives Matter Movement.
In the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests which led to growing calls for abolishing the police and demilitarising communities in the United States, people around the world started to have serious discussions about racism and police brutality in their own countries.
In India, however, with the exception of some spaces, the support for the movement has remained superficial, with no real engagement with the underlying issues.
While Indian celebrities were quick to provide lip service in support of the protests, they did little to examine the effect of militarism (of which police brutality is a part) in their own country.
If they were to look closely, they would see that militarism in India is spreading increasingly and surreptitiously, without any check or much uproar.
Broadly understood, militarism is the gradual spread of militaristic values into civilian life. Left unchecked, it paves the way for militaristic values such as violence, surveillance and control to become primary tools in the state’s handling of internal conflict and dissent.
It is closely intertwined with nationalism and patriarchy and involves setting up masculine ideals of service to the nation, based on aggression and the willingness to commit violent acts, as the basis of ideal citizenship.
Overt police and military brutality, especially against marginalized groups, have long been rampant in India. But recent moves by the state signal an attempt to covertly extend military forms of control in the civilian sphere. Indeed, as seen in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, militarism is increasingly becoming the Indian state’s go-to approach in handling crisis situations. This calls for urgent scrutiny.
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