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Title: Constitutional Autocracy and Eugenic Sterilization of Dalits: The Biopolitics of Emergency in Rohinton Mistry’s A Fine Balance.
Authors: Das, Kiran
Keywords: Emergency
caste violence
racial modernization
Issue Date: 2023
Publisher: Registrar, Vidyasagar University on behalf of Vidyasagar University Publication Division, Midnapore, West Bengal, India, 721102
Series/Report no.: Volume-16;
Abstract: This paper critically looks into the representation of biopolitical measures brought about on the cusp of the de-secularizing post-Independence period through the prism of Rohinton Mistry’s A Fine Balance (1995). Imposed with the aim of racial modernization and brutal suppression of political dissents, the National Emergency (1975-77) was the culminating point of human rights violation, ethnic cleansing, and dispossession of marginalized Dalit communities in the post-Independence India. Drawing insights from the theoretical paradigms of biopolitics, the paper examines the caste violence vis-à-vis the capitalist growth in the wake of the Emergency. Focusing on Foucault’s concept of biopolitical nomos and Agamben’s Homo Sacer, the current paper attempts to question the arbitrary enactment of politico-juridical power during the Emergency through a close reading of Mistry’s narrative. The article delves deep into the problematic connection between caste hierarchy and coercive laws, focusing on the devastating effect of urbanization on the poor. During the Emergency, one of the critical moments was the state’s decision to enforce sterilization for specific disadvantaged communities, thereby encouraging the politicization of life. By examining the recently developed theoretical framework that argues reproduction control as a form of biopolitics, I show how the forced vasectomy of Omprakash and Ishwar in the novel is a minuscule representation of the state’s nationwide drive for eugenic control of reproduction for racialized populations.
Description: PP:142-152
ISSN: 0973-3671
Appears in Collections:Journal of the Department of English - Vol 16 [2023]

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