Governance by Stealth: The Ministry of Home Affairs and the Making of the Indian State

ISBN : 9780199460489

Subrata K. Mitra
472 ページ
150 x 222 mm

India's Ministry of Home Affairs, with its striking durability, and ability to adapt to the transition from colonial rule to post-colonial governance, is a remarkable example of institutional resilience. Home's special expertise in governance by stealth - maximum order with the use of minimum force - was instrumental for the department to acquire a secure niche within the colonial structure. Following the end of colonial rule in 1947, the Home Department, still ensconced in the majestic North Block of Delhi, mutated into the Home Ministry of the Indian Republic. How a colonial institution whose key task was to hold Indian nationalism at bay became the architect of the post-colonial state and nation, is one of the main questions to which I respond in this book. Home's multiple roles as the keeper of public order, mentor to public services and the invisible sinews of the state that holds the noisy democracy and assertive regions together to explain its exalted status in India's governance and politics. My analysis, based on declassified files of the Ministry of Home Affairs, correspondences, biographies and interviews, explores the multiple roles of the Ministry, with its penchant for governance by stealth as my focus


Chapter One
Governance by stealth, and, the making of India's Home Ministry
Home's distinctive character
Is governance by stealth an elite conspiracy?
Why India? Order-making as State Formation: the 'Missing Link'
Raj to Swaraj: Poachers into gamekeepers
Ministers and civil servants: the Janus-face of the Indian state
Home: The 'charlady' of the government, and more
Independence and the ordeal of post-colonial chaos
Structure of the narrative
Sources, and the method of analysis
Contributions of the book and its limitations
Chapter Two
Governance as process: Colonial legacy, hybrid norms, and institutional arrangement
Colonial Order: Appropriation and re-use of Indian culture
The Structure of colonial power and its orderly unravelling
Norms of governance by stealth and the post-colonial challenge
Post-colonial Democracy and a dynamic, neo-institutional model of governance
What holds India's political system together?
Chapter Three
The Sentinel of Order: Home - origin, evolution, functions and structure
Imperial rule and Home's functional niche
Origin and evolution
From Department to Ministry (1947)
The functions and Structure of the Ministry (1948)
The internal architecture of the Ministry: Allocation of Business Rules (1961)
Organization of the Ministry
The 'new look' charlady: Home - balancing authority, accountability and compliance
Chapter Four
Politicians, civil servants and post-colonial Governance: Continued synergy, despite role reversal
Regime Change, with seamless continuity
The challenge of leadership: Synergy of ministers and secretaries
Ministerial leadership
Bureaucracy: the 'Old Faithful' of Indian politics
Ministers and Secretaries: Conflicting loyalties?
PM- HM- HS: An Incompatible triad?
Chapter Five
Home at work: Re-shaping public services and integrating national territory
Public Order and Public Services: dual challenges for the Home Ministry
The challenge of re-shaping the civil service
Recasting the colonial civil service in a national mould
Post-partition trauma, and building of an Indian nation
Integration by stealth: Princely states and the dilemma of Independence
Jammu and Kashmir State
Generous in victory: Patel stoops to conquer!
On to the 'promised land', with Home
Chapter Six
Setting the Mould: Home and the 1950s
Setting the political agenda: The Congress 'system', Home Ministry and the 1950s
Public services
Reorganisation of the Machinery of Government
Nehru and Patel: a tense duopoly
Home at work: creation of new, innovative institutions
The 1950s' harvest: Embryonic norms and policy outcomes of the 'new' politics
The 1950s: Institutionalization of governance by stealth
Chapter Seven

Home, beyond the foundational decade: Manifest decline, resilient frame
1960s and the beginning of governmental instability: Home under pressure
Self-portrait of the Ministry, 1960-61
Indo-China border war, 1962: unintended consequences for the MHA
The growing hiatus of politics and administration: facing the uncertainty of the 1970s
Special measures during emergency
Revoking Emergency: Home, redux?
The 1980s: A decade of 'deinstitutionalization'
India's 1984: Home at its nadir
Beyond the Foundational Decade: Home's complex trajectory
Chapter Eight

Holding the state together: The Ministry of Home Affairs and India's 'unity in diversity'
The 'rational' politics of cultural nationalism and the danger of 'Balkanization'
Surreptitious integration: Regulating public holidays
Mediation in contesting claims over regional boundaries
Engaging insurgency through peace initiatives
Creation of sub-States
'Colonization' of Union Territories
Institutional innovation: Reorganisation of J&K militia
President's rule: MHA and Indian States
Punjab: limited success, despite President's rule
India's 'Unity in Diversity', with a little help from Home's silken threads
Chapter Nine

Governing the sacred: Home and the quest for collective identity
Sacred spaces and colonial power
The Devaswom Board: A colonial innovation
Religion, post-independence: fundamental right and fundamental cause of political strife
Home, and evolution of a national language policy
Combatting 'Communalism' through the Project of 'National Integration'
After Ayodhya riot (1992), what kept Bhiwandi quiet?
Accommodating regional and sectional identities within the modern state
Continuing relevance of language and religion as issues in Indian politics
Chapter Ten

Ultima ratio regum: Force in the making of legitimacy
The forceful state: Home's fire power
The gathering and processing of intelligence
Legitimate force? An Indian dilemma
The 'Liberation' of Goa, 1961
Force, bound by law
Policing the police: Lessons of the PAC (UP) revolt, 1973
Legitimate force? Democracy's conundrum
Chapter Eleven
Home stymied: The Emergency regime, 1975-77, and its aftermath
Orderly rule, emergency and due process: A symbiotic triad
Carl Schmitt: the role of the sovereign in an emergency
The Political context of the Emergency
The Janata Interlude (1977-79): Home and the middle ground between orderly rule and anti-emergency zealotry
Emergency as conundrum: Home's cruel dilemma
Home: Orderly rule and the legacy of the 1970s
Chapter Twelve

When Home Fails: Compliance and Contestation in a post-colonial state
Assessing compliance: Three analytic narratives
Ayodhya: demolition of the Babri mosque
Insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir
Maoist movements (LWE)
Norms of governance by stealth reconsidered
-loss of elite consensus and its impact on compliance
-High efficacy and low trust, and non-compliance
Home on the mend
Rupture of orderly rule in India: cumulative or diminishing?
The Reason of State: Governance by Stealth, and beyond
Home at work
The logic of appropriateness and grey areas of governance
The reason of state and the ambiguity of power
Liberal Politics in an illiberal context: Home's challenge
Re-enchanting the state
Still the 'steel frame'?


Subrata Mitra is Professor and Head of Political Science, South Asia Institute, University of Heidelberg.

"Subrata Mitra has provided us with a new, profound, and deep understanding of the remarkable degree to which India is and has become a mostly stable, civil and orderly society. He has probed as never done before the history and the politics of the Home Ministry, the most important part of India's government beyond - maybe even including - the office of Prime Minister. Governance by Stealth explains India's resilient democracy as a consequence of its institutional arrangements, most especially its Home Ministry's stealthy ability to sustain order without force. No one can hope to understand India's development or democracy's development without studying this gift that Professor Mitra has given us - a deep dive into the real workings of a civil, orderly India. Truly a great book! -Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, Julius Silver Professor of Politics, NYU, New York "
"A pioneering interdisciplinary voyage from history to politics to society, Mitra's book breaks new ground. As the first rigorous exploration of North Block and its role in governance, it is must-reading for anyone trying to make sense of Indian democracy itself, its extant fragilities and, at the same time, its enduring resilience. The study is predicated on a deep insight of Indian politics and the competition among the political elite. The book provides an incisive analysis of the development from Raj to Swaraj, on to deeper political upheavals of the Seventies and the resurgence of democracy. It is a magnum opus, for every Indian seeking to learn of how India evolved. -Shri Vinod Rai, former Comptroller and Auditor General of India "
"From splitting Kashmir to enacting a controversial citizenship law, from laying down weekly protocols for the world's most sweeping pandemic lockdown to toughening laws on internal security, no other Ministry wields as much power or straddles as many fault-lines as the Union Home Ministry. More so, under the strongest single-party government in almost four decades with the Opposition ranks denuded like never before. Subrata Mitra's magisterial work couldn't have come at a more critical time. - Raj Kamal Jha, Chief Editor, the Indian Express "
"Few democracies have managed to sustain electoral responsiveness within a framework of order when facing challenges as deep as those of India. Subrata Mitra's remarkable new book digs beneath the surface into official archives and personal accounts to analyze the efforts of the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs to manage "maximum order with minimum force" over more than half a century-often, but not always, successfully. What he reveals about politics and policymaking is relevant to every democracy, especially in today's challenging times. - Professor G. Bingham Powell, University of Rochester, NY "