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Chapter 12 THE HABITS OF THE POLITICAL HEART: RECOVERING POLITICS FROM GOVERNMENTALITY Aparna Sundar and Nandini Sundar

If half my heart is here, doctor, the other half is in China, with the army owing towards the Yellow River writes Nazim Hikmet, in his famous poem, Angina Pectoris: I look at the night through the bars, and despite the weight on my chest, my heart still beats with the most distant stars. Partha Chatterjees Politics of the Governed and in particular, his concept of political society, is deservedly famous because it identies the central conundrum in a post-Foucauldian theoretical world, where hope is not lost but politics loses its way in a mass of identities and governmental ascriptions, where universalist citizenship is an ideal, but the citizen herself or himself is a cipher in some computerized code; when welfare becomes the ideal of an equal citizenship in a Marshallian framework, but this notion of welfare itself creates a proliferation of governmentality (Chatterjee 2004, 36). What do we do when our deepest aspirations (for example, for universal equality) turn into categorical chains that imprison us (as has happened to afrmative action in India); or, conversely, as the communitarians bemoaned of old, what do we do when the idea of universal citizenship that we struggle for obliterates our most personal identities? Unlike Foucault, for whom resistance or politics was only possible at the interstices, for Chatterjee, popular politics in most of the world remains an abiding area of interest, an arena that he eshes out with compassion and insight. However, having identied the problem, Chatterjee appears to lose the plot. For Foucault, the problem was a general one: the individual could not be the locus of citizenship rights and demands, since the individual is not the vis-vis of power; it is one of its prime effects (Foucault 1980, 98). For Chatterjee,
This chapter has been published in the volume Re-framing Democracy and Agency in India: Interrogating Political Society, edited by Ajay Gudavarthy. London: Anthem Press, 2012. ISBN: 9780857283504.

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however, the problem Foucault poses is sidestepped. Instead, he disaggregates the conceptual contradiction between the liberal theory on civil society and citizenship, and the Foucauldian idea of governmentality into two empirical spheres, inhabited by two kinds of people: a small group of elites enjoying legally protected rights of freedom, equality and property who constitute civil society; and a much larger group of people who are part of a heterogeneous population who are governed and looked after, often by ignoring or violating civic norms. This group negotiates its way to subsistence and constitutes political society (Chatterjee 2008, 91). In colloquial terms, this implies civil society for the classes, political society for the masses. In past readings, this might have been civil society for the West, subaltern politics for the rest. This compartmentalization of the social landscape is profoundly problematic for it is founded on concepts which are themselves informed by politics and by history. For Chatterjee, civil society is bourgeois society, comprising a small section of culturally equipped citizens, whose rights are legally and formally protected, as against the concessions granted to the masses in recognition of their subsistence needs. However, some of the most signicant political movements today are precisely over the legal recognition of rights. If there is a distinction between those whose rights are legally recognized and those whose arent, this is not a distinction that members of a so-called political society themselves make. Legality is a sleight of hand, the aye of the legislator or the judgement of a court. For instance, the simple act of reading down Article 377 by the Delhi High Court in 2009 decriminalized the hitherto illegal act of gay consensual sex; but this legal action was itself the outcome of a long sustained political struggle. Admitted it was led by middle-class health NGOs and gay rights activists, classic culturally equipped citizens. However, the alliances, networks and political modes they employed were not very different from those used by less culturally equipped people, and before they were legalized, they too lived in a grey zone of compromise with the police. What, moreover, would Chatterjee make of the struggle of the rickshaw pullers of Delhi the quintessential constituents of political society as he denes it, whose subsistence needs require them to negotiate with and bribe the authorities. They were instantly transformed into civil society in his framework, only because a sensitive bench responded to a simple question: when there is no cap on the number of car licences that can be issued, why is there a cap on the number of rickshaw licences in Delhi?1 It is the law that criminalized them and not the activity, and it is through their engagement with the law, rather than with some uncertain
1 WP (C) 4572/2007, judgement dated 10 February 2010, Manushi Sanghatan vs. Govt. of Delhi and Ors.

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political terrain, that the rickshaw pullers sought to assert their claims as citizens. In any case, the law is not divorced from politics there is always a long political run-up to any legal action, and every legal judgment also has meaning only within a particular politically dened terrain. The issue for many political movements of the poor is not just subsistence but a recognition of their legal property rights. Chatterjees example of the peoples welfare association created by the residents of Rail Colony Gate Number One, where the squatters admit that their occupation of public lands is both illegal and contrary to good civic life (Chatterjee 2004, 59) is not typical of all such movements. A majority of the struggles taking place across the country are, in fact, struggles over property and over the framework of law (for example, whether customary law should dene property or state law). As struggles over traditional shing rights or the recognition of forest rights, or struggles against rural and urban displacement show, the poor believe in their own rights of property as much as the rich. They are not asking for simply the righteous demands of livelihood and survival (Chatterjee 2008, 92) but the implementation of the rule of law and an equal recognition of the property rights of all. In other words, even if we grant that civil society and political society are represented by corporate capital and subsistence needs, they do not occupy two sides of a divide regarding property, law and political action the struggle between them is over whose denition of property and whose denition of law will prevail. It is ironic that the removal of property as a fundamental right in the Indian Constitution, meant to enable the abolition of the practice of zamindari, has been turned primarily against the poor. This insight is not new. Austin writes that when the 17th Amendment was being debated in 1964, which enlarged the 9th Schedule to include more state laws on agrarian reform, thus freeing them from judicial review, for both the communists and socialists, the heart of the property issue was not ownership or none, but how much is enough? (Austin 2000, 105). When Chatterjee writes of the induction of ever-increasing sections of the people, individually as well as in the mass, into a web of power relations in which they are being transformed into the subjects of power...not necessarily being transformed into republican citizens, but (they are) nevertheless acquiring a stake, strategically and morally, in the processes of governmental power, he misses the fact that while people want services from the government, they are also propelled by the idea of justice, which, in turn, is animated by a deep republican impulse. If large parts of the country are up in arms today, it is not because of development or the lack of it, but because their rights as citizens are being violated. This republican impulse has acquired a language and style all of its own, which, however, has not been analysed as intensively as the practices of
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governmentality. To begin with, one needs to look at the links between the different sections, which Chatterjee terms civil and political, respectively. Senior lawyers who ght cases for corporate capital also ght cases for rickshaw pullers and poor adivasis pro bono, numerous activists and NGOs have sprung up from the ranks of both the poor and the middle classes and created their own NGO/activist culture, people from one state rush to do fact-ndings when violence breaks out in another state; the practice of peoples tribunals set up to defend subsistence and the rights of those in political society, mimic the forms and trappings of civil legal forums. Citizenship as a desire for equality and for rights not just welfare handouts is deeply embedded across the Indian political landscape. Having presented this hopeful picture of a sense of united citizenship, however, we must hasten to add that the other side of Chatterjees claim regarding the moral legitimacy of subsistence is under attack in these neoliberal times. According to Chatterjee, when members of civil society or corporate capital violate the law, the public admission is shamefaced. But shamefaced is not perhaps the best description for the reaction of corporate capital or the political class it funds to the host of scams that repeatedly come to light: the IPL controversy, the controversy over paid news, Enron, and so on. A quick papering over so that business can continue as usual is more like it. Chatterjee goes on to say that it is mistaken to claim that the dominant and propertied classes any longer set the standards of morality for society; rather, in a democratic age, the moral passion of entitlement and outrage is on the side of those who have little (Chatterjee 2008, 92). During the last ve years, however, this belief has been belied by the ease with which the moral claims of the poor to food security have been transformed so rapidly into seeing the poor themselves as the biggest security threat facing the country; the way in which the right of corporate capital to violate forest and environmental protection laws is defended through the widespread deployment of paramilitary forces, and the way in which, above all, the media amplies the states security perspective. Sure, there are still voices claiming that Naxalism is a socio-economic problem and not just a law and order one but the chorus in favour of extermination, especially among political parties and corporates, has also seen rapid growth (N. Sundar 2007). On occasion, Chatterjee writes as if in dialogue with some curmudgeonly bhadralok interlocutor, who, on reading the morning newspapers, clucks over the violence and superstition of the masses, and the populism of the political classes. True enough, there are many of those decent ofce-going men and women, who dene the contours of morality with reference to school exams, civil service jobs and gorment policy, for whom politics is a dirty word, and sects like the Santan Dal aberrations in a Nehruvian Indian modernity.
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As Chatterjee writes: A modern civil society, consistent with the ideas of freedom and equality, is a project that is located in the historical desires of certain elite sections of Indians (Chatterjee 2004, 46). But people from these same elite sections (dened by income and not just tautologically by belief) also hold all night jagrans, keeping their neighbours awake, feed their Ganesh idols with milk, and advertise on caste-specic websites for matrimonial matches. In Gujarat, during the genocide of 2002, it was people from the middle class localities, who drove up in their cars and used their cellphones to summon friends and relatives to loot Muslim shops (N. Sundar 2002, 89). On several empirical counts then recourse to legality rather than politics, preference for civility rather than violence, modern rationality versus superstition, republicanism versus incorporation as political subjects, formal associations versus ascriptive communities the distinction between civil and political society cannot be sustained in the sense that Chatterjee would have us accept; certainly not as a description of types of citizens, their beliefs or their practices. Nor does this distinction help us usefully understand the direction of change in the economy and polity or address questions of democracy and agency. Let us then return to the problem that Chatterjee so helpfully identies for us how do individuals and communities engage in politics, when they themselves (as both individuals and communities) are the products of a certain kind of governmentality that is purposively apolitical and seeks to subordinate demands for rights into demands for welfare? For this, one needs to attend to other constructions of civil society and other ways of conceptualizing political society. In particular, we would like to focus on the double movement of capitalism the way in which it dissolves certain forms of community and recreates others around new axes; the way in which this is mirrored by the state dissolving certain forms of association and recreating them in a formal sense; and nally, the double movement of popular politics and movements that are transformed in the process of both resisting the state and seeking to turn it to their own ends. In the rest of this chapter, we draw on two political settings to exemplify our argument the associations and struggles of the shing communities of Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu, and the movements by adivasis in Chhattisgarh to secure their rights over land and forest. The reason why we have chosen these two sites is not only because of our own long-term familiarity with these areas over twenty years, but because they provide a useful contrast both to each other and to the West Bengal setting that Chatterjee writes about. The people that we write about are both marginal to the Indian polity, and embody subsistence practices that are under threat. While the shers face commodication and depletion of stocks, the adivasis face displacement of another kind, to make
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way for industry. On the other hand, the contexts in which they organize are quite different. The states of Tamil Nadu and Chhattisgarh have remarkably different levels of service provisioning, as well as different densities of civil society networks, political associations, and media coverage. The average income and literacy also differs. The Tamil Nadu villagers are closer to civil society in Chatterjees sense given the range of formal institutions and associations they are part of, while the adivasis of Chhattisgarh are, for him, outside the sphere of both civil and political society. The point that we are trying to raise, however, is that both these groups articulate a common idea of citizenship. An ethic of subsistence is not an alternative to this republican idea, but a quintessential part of it. At the same time, associations and movements change their demands in response to both economic and political changes, and to the forms that state reaction takes. In the case of the shworkers, they have moved from social movement to social capital, while in the case of the adivasis, they have moved from political action through village communities to participation in an armed struggle. In other words, rather than try and posit two different types of societies, we need to see how societies move from being civil to political and back again. Further, once we start to unravel the concept of civil society, we nd that that may still be a more useful lens to understand the direction of democratic change in India, rather than Chatterjees use of the term political society. If this term was used in Tocquevilles sense to refer to the ideas and feelings of equality and mediating institutions that enable government, the habits of the heart that lie underneath the practice of politics and government (Tocqueville 1945, 303), it would serve a more precise purpose to distinguish certain kinds of institutions in civil society those which are engaged in political change from other, more anodyne, apolitical institutions which also make up civil society (see White et al. 1996; Woods 1992). For instance civil society, dened in its most common form as an intermediary sphere between the state and the individual, includes not just trade unions, political parties or welfare associations, but also personality-driven fan clubs, su cults, yoga clubs, bodies of students, lawyers and journalists, and so on. However, the distinction between political and apolitical associations is a hazy one, given that seemingly purely social associations like womens self help groups (SHGs), or the lm star fan clubs in Tamil Nadu may also be harnessed for political ends, and indeed the burden of Putnams version of social capital is precisely to claim this link between the density of associations, howsoever dened, and successful government/development (Putnam with Leonardi and Nanetti 1993; Putnam 1995; for the World Banks version of social capital, see World Bank 2000; for critiques of social capital, see Portes
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1998; Wall et al. 1998; Fine 1999; Harris and de Renzio 1997). In the following section, we run through a discussion of civil society to show the way in which we use it.

Dening Civil Society


The term civil society has been dened in several ways: the most common understanding is of civil society as an intermediate sphere between the individual/family and the state, though the exact ingredients of this sphere vary (see Kumar 1993; Calhoun 1993; Chandhoke 1995; Foley and Edwards 1996). For Hegel, for instance, the market, bureaucracy and judiciary were all part of civil society as against the ethical state. For Tocqueville, civil society was a space of voluntary association, which replaced primordial community; properly speaking, it was the base for political society. Byrants (1993) denition below seems as good as any to encapsulate this common view of civil society, which emphasizes self-organization, civility and voluntary association: The sociological variant of civil society refers to a space or arena between household and state, other than the market, which affords possibilities of concerted action and social self-organisation... De Tocquevilles art of association is crucial to civil society. So is civility the equable treatment of others as fellow citizens however different their interests and sensibilities... The sociological variant of civil society also embraces Habermass public sphere as developed by, for example, Nancy Fraser... In short, civil society refers to social relations and communications between citizens. These may sometimes be informed by the law and by state policy but even then are not dependent on them. (Bryant 1993, 399) While this denition includes the public sphere or the communicative space as part of civil society, in recent work, there has been a bias towards the associative aspects over the communicative. No doubt, much of this has been fuelled by the social capital debate, wherein the density of associations and their local character is important, not their content. But, as we argue, attention to the content of associations, to ideas that dene them and emerge in them, is essential for understanding their implications. For Marx, civil society was coterminous with bourgeois property relations, the form in which it was mediated socially, and the universalist appearance of the state was an outcome of the contradictions of civil society (Marx 1977). For Gramsci, civil society was the arena wherein consent was elicited rather than coercion exercised, but in either case, it was not separate from the state. As Kumar points out, without specifying the concrete inuences on civil
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society whether from the market or the ideological state apparatus it is unreasonable to expect it to be autonomous or a countervailing power to the state (Kumar 1993, 386). In general, we follow Chandoke (1995, 39), where she argues that Civil society cannot be understood unless we see it as the sphere through which the state seeks to control society, as well as the sphere where state power and that of the dominant classes can be contested. In other words, civil society is the arena where politics is possible. It is generally believed that, as an empirical phenomenon, civil society arose out of particular historical developments in Western Europe: the growth of a bourgeoisie, the churchstate split and the secularization of society, and social differentiation due to industrialization; in America, its social and political context was the egalitarian individualism of the yeoman farmer and the adoption of a liberal constitution. As an analytical category, it reects the specic conditions of its origin, with an emphasis on individual voluntary association as against ascriptively generated communities, which are thought to be natural or primordial. For instance, Cohen and Arato (1992, ix) note, Modern civil society... is institutionalized and generalized through laws, and especially subjective rights, that stabilize social differentiation. Habermass denition of the public sphere is based on this understanding of its participants as rational individuals freed from communal identities (Calhoun 1993, 273). It is this particular history that has led theorists such as Kaviraj and Chatterjee to question the validity of using categories developed through the European experience to describe alternative, post-colonial modernities. They have argued that constructs such as civil society are historically and sociologically specic to Europe, and that their application elsewhere serves as an updated form of the modernization theory, to smuggle in an implicit teleology. Partha Chatterjee argues that in much of the Third World, people use the rules and procedures of civil society to claim rights as members of communities. Chatterjee further points out that it is the community that provides much of the norms and networks of trust and reciprocity that are described as social capital. Yet this same community may contain norms that are antithetical to those of civil society, such as afliation based on birth and excommunication as a sanction. For Chatterjee, the tensions between the reality of community, and the ideal of a self-determining individual, cannot be reconciled in civil society; civil society is the limited domain occupied by the middle classes who see themselves as autonomous, self-determining rights-bearing subjects, whereas a large majority of Indias population seeks representation as members of communities through a political society. However, these sociological assumptions have been questioned on a number of grounds. Firstly, critical Habermasians (see Eley 1992; Fraser 1989, 1992) have raised questions about the public sphere in Europe, pointing out that
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such a unied sphere of rational, detached and liberal debate never existed there, and that such a requirement would, in fact, exclude several people for example, women, minorities, who communicate in different ways. Fraser (1992, 1989), Eley (1992) and others show how both physically in terms of the arenas through which the public sphere is supposed to have emerged, and in terms of the languages and styles it uses, it has been a gendered, racialized, and class-dened sphere. They argue that it is necessary, therefore, to think of several publics rather than a single unied one. Secondly, there is the doubtful assumption that the community exists in some unchanging form in non-European societies. While Chatterjee, or the nineteenth-century sociologists see ascriptive community as natural, undifferentiated, and given, much of the earlier Indian modernization of tradition around caste groups or broader invention of tradition around ethnicity, religion, language, or community property relations (see for example, Breckenridge and Van der Veer 1993) literature challenges this. Agrawal (1999) makes the distinction between two senses of community: communityas-social-organization and community as shared understandings, or interests. As Aparna Sundar (2010) shows, the two are not synonymous, and it is civil society which is the space where community is challenged or strategically invoked in struggles around class, the church, and gender. As Calhoun (1980) notes, identities and interests do not come completely pre-formed into the public sphere; rather, it is through the process of struggling for recognition and representation in this sphere that social groups identify around certain issues, articulate their interests and make their claims, against other social actors as much as against the state. Community might serve as a powerful legitimating claim within the public sphere, to counter displacement by market imperatives, or to insist upon a moral economy; or to make claims against the state, or for state schemes/benets premised on community (thus performing governmentality); it may equally be a language used to mask class or gender differences (see N. Sundar 2009 on the debates within adivasi communities on custom). Thirdly, it may be possible to think of diverse antecedents for particular civil societies. If the public sphere in Europe emerged through a particular bourgeoise history, the public sphere in India is no less one for being marked by particular caste or gendered logics. Mosse (2003) for example, shows how in Tamil Nadu, tank management systems have historically been viewed not only as sources of irrigation water, but as forming part of a village public domain through which social relations are articulated: In Tamil villages (some at least) the village public (ur potu) happens to be the domain of authority and rank and status, which makes the
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management of common property an eminently political action. This also makes tank management a heavily gendered action in that women (and their interests...) are largely excluded from this public domain and its decision making. (Mosse 2003, 486) Thus, the ideas of the public may have indigenous roots and understandings, quite distinct from the European; or they may derive from bodies like the church, with its ideals of public service, as Putnam has shown for Italy. But for modern India, even more important as an antecedent is the way in which liberal democracy, quite apart from its legal and institutional structures or its still limited success in achieving radical social transformation, has altered the map of political imagination even for subaltern groups. Talking of various populist programmes, Kaviraj notes: The radical rhetoric did not alleviate poverty, but it quickened the process which Tocqueville depicted with incomparable acuity, establishing the principle of political equality and dignity indelibly in the political world Above all, democracy in the post-Nehru era has gradually conveyed to the Indian electorate the pervading, elusive but crucial modern idea of the plasticity of the social world, and democracy and development both as frameworks of collective intentions to shape it in preferred forms. (Kaviraj 1995, 1267) White et al. (1996) charge that denitions such as that of Arato and Cohen derive clearly from the Anglo-American liberal tradition whereby civil society is equated with political society in the sense of a particular set of institutionalised relationships between state and society based on the principles of citizenship, civil rights, representation, and the rule of law. In effect, he argues, this view of civil society makes it virtually indistinguishable from a standard conception of a liberal democratic polity. Yet, he argues, stripped of the insistence that only certain forms of association and communication be recognized as legitimate constituents of this realm, civil society can serve as a useful sociological category to explore the quality of public life in diverse non-European societies. Further, as recent debates on the degree of civility required in civil society show (Turner 2008; Alexander 2008), the term would nd it hard to exclude voluntary associations of an uncivil and even violent nature, except as a normative concept. Thus, civil society is useful as a sociological tool to map alternative modernities, as well as a practico-indicative concept (Anderson 19767, 35) for conceptually analysing the empirical contours of past, present or emergent relationships between social and political institutions and forces (Keane 1988, 13). This is
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also important because it allows us to see that civil society, like its public sphere, is an analytical sphere distinct from society as such and is best conceived of as a terrain or zone of contestation between competing actors, projects and discourses.

Associational Life and Politics in Two Marginal Spaces


In this section, we look at two different kinds of civil society, and try to map the ways in which they express particular forms of public life that people are engaged with in contestations either with other classes or the state. We also examine the kinds of ideas of citizenship and public that they throw up. The shing communities of Tamil Nadu The shing communities of Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu have perhaps one of the richest diversities of associational life, both formal and informal, found anywhere in the country. These communities, comprising the Paravar and Mukkuvar castes, have been predominantly Catholic since the sixteenth century. Both the church and the state have governed through mobilizing popular participation; however limited and instrumental their aims in doing so might have been, their efforts have created spaces for the learning and practice of formal associational politics, and have had often unpredictable outcomes. The state has exercised its welfare function through a series of participatory initiatives beginning with the Community Development Programme and shermens cooperatives of the 1950s, and the elite dominated panchayats of that period, as well as the more representative panchayats of the present, following the 1993 Panchayati Raj amendment to the constitution. The states turn to work with civil society in the 1990s can be seen in the district administrations support for the Arrivoli Iyakkam (Total Literacy Movement) initiated by the Tamil Nadu Science Forum, and the adoption of a participatory, campaign mode for the delivery of adult literacy. The church established sodalities and pious associations in the villages from its very beginnings in the region, as a way of raising lay assistance in running the parish, and established a central role in secular governance through its close relationship with the existing village and caste committees. In the 1960s and 70s, the diocesan social service society embarked upon development works in the district; among the associations it set up were self-help and support groups for women and widows, and shermens cooperatives. The latter were member-managed organizations that sought to replace the bureaucratically governed government cooperative societies established in the 1950s. They grew in strength, became formally independent of the diocese, federated with
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similar societies in two other districts into the South Indian Federation of Fishermens Societies, and are now the largest and most powerful shermens organizations in the region. Both the diocese and other organizations also initiated similar organizations for sh-vending women. The dramatic movements of reform within the Catholic Church following Vatican II and the rise of a new liberation theology led to further efforts at lay participation, in the form of youth groups, elected parish councils, and basic Christian communities. The villagers themselves have long associated in chit funds (rotating savings and credit associations common across the country), youth groups and football clubs, and, in the villages close to the Kerala border, in the library movement to create village reading rooms that originated there. Villagers are also active in the lm star fan clubs that are unique to Tamil Nadu. Given the role of lm stars in politics, these fan clubs become sources of political support during election campaigns (Dickey 1993). In addition, most major political parties (the Congress, CPI-M, ADMK, DMK, Janata Dal, MDMK) have village level units, including units of their womens and youth wings. Kanyakumari District is densely populated with NGOs, sponsored by the Catholic and Protestant churches, and by secular organizations and foundations. A major thrust of these NGOs since the early 1990s has been on microcredit, or the creation of self-help and income generation groups, almost entirely for women. Women across the district are frequently members in several of these at once, and almost everyday either receive a collection visit by an animator from one of the groups, or attend a group meeting where issues like overall performance around savings, repayment of loans, and applications for new loans, are discussed. Depending upon the organization sponsoring them, the self-help group can also take up discussion, or even action, around more social and political issues in the villages. The shing struggle in Tamil Nadu/Kerala under the banner of the National Fishworkers Forum is, however, by far the most famous political movement to come out of the area (Sundar 1999). This movement, which was very active in the 1980s and 1990s, took up the issue of trawling and called for a sustainable shery. Locally, it was led by village or parish committees, or ad hoc committees set up for the purpose. But more formal organizations were also set up to deal with the rights of traditional shers: a shworkers union set up by the National Fishworkers Forum (NFF), the Vallam Union spearheaded by shermen from several villages, and the Boat Owners Associations representing trawler interests. In the early 2000s, the diocese set up a Peace and Development Committee with government approval, to manage this conict in more civil ways. And the local union set up by the NFF, which, at its height, helped spearhead resistance against the Koodankulam nuclear
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plant in the region, campaign for the rights of migrant women workers in the sh processing industry, and set up a unit of the National Alliance of Peoples Movements in the district, had by the early years of this century become taken over by a leadership that was devoted solely to running microcredit groups for women. What can we infer from this abundance of association? Several of the newer associations described above are aimed at civilizing, uplifting or bringing about an improvement, through, for instance, opposing alcoholism, factionalism and feuding; income generation and economic development; improved service provision; democratizing of the church; village self-government and political participation. They are self-consciously modern, with an avowed commitment to procedures such as elections, accounts, and written records, and to the equal participation of hitherto excluded groups such as women, lower status families and youth. Despite this self-conscious modernity, however, not all these associations can be said to be the outcome of autonomous action. As subaltern people poor, dependent as sherpeople upon a fragile primary resource, low caste associational life is not always a matter of voluntary participation for Kanyakumari villagers; rather, it is enjoined upon them as a condition of their class. They are exhorted, often required, by the state, church and NGOs to form cooperatives and other forms of association for a variety of ends such as access to markets and credit, government benets and social services. As signicantly, it is their membership in ascriptive or involuntary communities (dened by village, locality, occupation, caste, religion and language) that is expected to provide the personal knowledge, norms of reciprocity, trust and habits of interaction (that is, the social capital) necessary for the success of the associations or intentional communities that they enter. It can be argued then, that these associations, and, in particular, some like the microcredit groups, serve to produce a governmentality as the direction toward specic ends of conduct which has as its objects both individuals and populations, and which combines techniques of domination and discipline with technologies of self-government. Governmentality offers a way of approaching how rule is consolidated and power is exercised in society through societal relations, institutions, and bodies that do not automatically t under the rubric of the state (Gupta and Sharma 2006, 277). Equally, however, we can see, in the militant assertion by the Kanyakumari village committee of their customary rights to manage the shery against incursions by the trawlers, and in their counterposing of village law to the law of the state, a resistance to such efforts at containment and disciplining. Villagers represent themselves as members of a village community, as traditional shing castes, and as shworkers. While asserting village law, they also led cases against
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the trawler owners in the police station and in court, and lobbied with their elected representatives. As members of the church, they at rst successfully pressed the church hierarchy to act on their behalf, and later acceded to the hierarchys exhortation to behave in more civil ways in the interests of caste and community unity. In articulation with the national movement led by the NFF, they sought to inuence state legislation, and to work through the media and through alliances with environmental groups and other trade unions, to make a case for themselves in the public sphere. An examination of the content (debates, practices) of the associations also leads to questions about the unchanging nature of ascriptive identity. The basic Christian communities and elected parish councils were initiated by the diocesan clergy inuenced by the social justice tenets of Vatican II. When successfully established, participation in them did have the desired ends of beginning to challenge village hierarchies and exclusions, around gender or economic status. But in many villages, these new associations were resisted because villagers not only feared the social change that they might engender, but also saw them as a means for the church to re-assert control over village governance. There is no easy unity then, between religion as faith, identity, and institutional allegiance, and even conversion (to Hinduism) has been used to negotiate the latter. The adivasis of Chhattisgarh In contrast to the rich array of formal associations found in Kanyakumari, the adivasis of Bastar have a marked paucity of formal associations. In the entire former undivided district of Bastar, comprising an area of 39,000 sq. km, there are a handful of NGOs, three political parties (the CPI, Congress, and BJP), and one Maoist guerrilla movement, which has been described by the prime minister repeatedly as the greatest security threat to the whole of India, an indication of its political strength. Organized religion of the Hindu, Christian, Sikh and Muslim variety is marked only in the urban centres, though since the early 2000s, the RSS has become active and set up a number of schools to convince the adivasis that they are Hindus. Christians have also made small inroads into the region. While welfare governmentality in the form of state-initiated womens self-help groups (SHGs), panchayats, and so on is not unknown with the most ubiquitous being the forest produce cooperative set up to sell tendu patta it is not ourishing, in contrast to that in many other places in the former state of Madhya Pradesh (see, for example, Vasavada, Mishra and Bates 1999). However, traditionally, the villages have been marked by strong levels of social capital in the Putnam sense face-to-face associations, trust, collective
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action and have worked out arrangements for collective self-management. While these were recognized by the colonial state, they were rendered informal by the post-colonial one. During the colonial period, the village was represented outside by the headman, and the priests, and by the pargana majhis (headmen of village clusters or parganas) at state-wide events. Every village maintained a rest house and one or two functionaries to serve the needs of visiting ofcials. The other villagers contributed grain to them annually, in essence paying to have the service performed by one of them as part of a collective service they performed for the king, zamindar or any state ofcial. Demands for forced labour or corvee in the form of porterage were met by households, in turn, or each household contributed a member to work on roads, clearing forest lines, and other such work. Rebellions against colonial rule were also premised on the basis of collective responsibility with each household sending members to ght under the leadership of their headmen and the pargana majhis (see N. Sundar 2007). In the eld of natural resource management too, there was a strong tradition of collective management. Although the appropriation and reservation of forests by the Forest Department meant that forests were ofcially taken out of village boundaries, they often continued to be part of a village for ritual purposes. There has continued to be a strong tradition of managing the forests within ones village boundaries till quite recently, involving a system of charging residents of other villages a small fee known variously as devsari, dand, man or saribodi, in exchange for the use of ones forest. In some villages in north Bastar, the fee was charged according to the amount of timber taken, while in south Bastar, villages which used the forest of another village, made collective contributions to that village at festival times. This fee often took the form of meat or liquor. Some villages protected their forests by engaging watchmen who were paid through contributions of grain from each household. In each case, the continuation of the system had to be continually negotiated because the pressure for free riding was quite high. Local disputes could snowball; and excessive logging by the Forest Department could invite pre-emptory felling by the villagers. In other words, even seemingly natural communities with high levels of social capital face the same kinds of problems as individual-based voluntary associations. Many of these practices of collective provisioning for outsiders and mutual help by the village at times of death, weddings, and other such occasions continue even today. However, state intervention has, as a conscious policy, ignored these traditional forms of collective management and sought to impose new formal structures in the form of Joint Forest Management Committees and other such organizations, which are managed by the Forest Department. Similarly, while elections for village panchayats may build upon the existing
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axes of inuence and power derived from being members of the founding family or belonging to the patel or pujaris household, it has created a parallel power structure in the village and the only one that is formally recognized. However, the government is not the only agent that seeks to rebuild society in its own image. The Communist Party of India (Maoist), like the government, has simultaneously built upon and destroyed the traditional structures, by creating their own village sanghams or collectives, which carry out land distribution, and serve as a conduit between the Maoists and the villagers. In some places, the sanghams have displaced the traditional village patel, while in others, the transition has been either more nominal or more seamless. In some places, the traditional leaders continue to decide on rituals, festivals and other such events, while sangham members concentrate on calling meetings on economic or political issues. Local politics segue into Maoist politics, when the Maoists are called upon to decide local disputes. The point of this discussion is that even where there are traditional associations based on existing forms of community, their form and content change, depending on whether they are appropriated into a governmental structure or a Maoist structure or ignored altogether. Even in their traditional form, they had to be continually sustained and reworked to avoid falling into disuse and disarray, like any modern voluntary association. There is thus no reason to remove them from a sphere of civil society. The Maoists have not only brought the claims of adivasis and dalits centrestage but managed to do so without negotiating with the government through the usual petitioning which is limited by the categories and avenues created by the government. This is unlike other adivasi movements for reservation or even for the recognition of forest rights, which are forced to accept and internalize categories like the Scheduled Tribes (STs). At the same time, locating this in village associations is important for them. As far as the government is concerned, the needs of corporate capital quite openly take precedence over the moral claims of the adivasis, with the Maoist armed struggle providing the pretext for massive state repression. Where adivasi claims are recognized, they are seen as a drag on the real business of government, which is to promote growth, despite the evident failures of the trickle-down theory. At the second annual Harish C. Mahindra Endowed Lecture at Harvard in 2007, the home minister, Mr Chidambaram, gave voice to this frustration thus: Democracy rather, the institutions of democracy and the legacy of the socialist era have actually added to the challenge of development. Let me explain with some examples. Indias mineral resources include coal the fourth largest reserves in the world iron ore, manganese, mica,
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bauxite, titanium ore, chromite, diamonds, natural gas, petroleum and limestone. Common sense tells us that we should mine these resources quickly and efciently. That requires huge capital, efcient organizations and a policy environment that will allow market forces to operate. None of these factors is present today in the mining sector. The laws in this behalf are outdated and parliament has been able to only tinker at the margins. Our efforts to attract private investment in prospecting and mining have, by and large, failed. Meanwhile, the sector remains virtually captive in the hands of the state governments. Opposing any change in the status quo are groups that espouse quite legitimately the cause of the forests or the environment or the tribal population. There are also political parties that regard mining as a natural monopoly of the state and have ideological objections to the entry of the private sector. They garner support from the established trade unions. Behind the unions either known or unknown to them stand the trading maa. The result: actual investment is low, the mining sector grows at a tardy pace and it acts as a drag on the economy.2 Further, one of the major forms that state intervention has taken has been the promotion of vigilante groups, euphemistically called local resistance groups, with impunity to kill, rape and burn villages. In 2005, the government of Chhattisgarh sponsored the Salwa Judum, which involved forcibly evacuating villagers to camp, in an effort at strategic hamletting to counter the Maoists, and employed young men and women from among the adivasis themselves to provide information on their former comrades. The idea was specically to target the sanghams, and create a class of people traders, sarpanches and SPOs who would ally with the state against the Maoists (N. Sundar 2007). If civil society is the sphere of rights-bearing citizens making claims on the state, what does one make of a state which purposely sets out to disorganize relations in society and introduce incivility, in order to take away peoples rights?

Conclusion
The point of the descriptions above is to show how the nature and density of associational life varies across rural and coastal India, and how formal commitment to norms or networks, the hallmarks of classic civil society, coexists with the articulation of political demands that seek to transform the way in which rights and obligations are described in civil society. Both the shing communities and the adivasi communities have articulated demands
2 http:/ /www.mahindra.com/Enewsletter/july-sept07/html/feature.html (accessed 1 May 2010).

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which are explicitly about citizenship, about property and about law, and not just contingent claims to livelihood or recognition. In both cases, associations at the village level articulate with wider social formations, be it the National Fishworkers Forum or the Maoist guerrilla struggle. The emphasis in each area also shifts in keeping with wider political and economic changes. In the shing sphere, Aparna Sundar (2010) has outlined the shift from social movement to social capital, while in the forest sphere, people move from village level politics to armed struggle and back again to their (transformed) village associations. Thus, it is neither sociologically accurate nor analytically helpful to demarcate two distinct spheres, as Chatterjee does. To think of subaltern actors as operating only within a political society of contingent and politically negotiated outcomes and practices of questionable legality, while more middleclass or bourgeois actors act within a civil society dened by constitutional practices and liberal understandings of citizenship, is to fail to see the way in which routinized legal practices and associations, as well as contingent political negotiations segue into each other. To fail to see the range of subaltern political practices from associations to new social movements to armed struggle is to ignore the richness of their democratic experience and to under-estimate the extent to which a liberal political subjectivity is emerging/becoming generalized, even when expressed in the form of a Maoist armed struggle. Simultaneously, to dene civil society in terms of its adherence to the law, and political society as its opposite, misses out both the fundamentally contested nature of law itself, as well as the way in which the state continually violates its own laws. Finally, while there is a genuine contest between corporate capital and non-corporate spaces, this contest cannot be mapped onto one between civil society versus political society. Societies are simultaneously civil and political all the way down.

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