Social Scientist. v 16, no. 181-82 (June-July 1988) p. 90.


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REVIEW ARTICLE

The C-olonial State, the Repressive State Apparatus and the Civil Society

DAVID ARNOLD, Police Power and Colonial Rule: Madras 1859-1947, Oxford University Press, Delhi, 1986, pp. xii + 277, Rs. 130.

^February 1932: In Gudivada town of Krishna district, trained nationalist women volunteers1 were peacefully picketing foreign cloth shops, when the colonial police swung into action. Reporting this The Hindu of 20 February 1932 noted:

The police splashed coloured water on the ladies2... and the picketeers persisting were removed in a bus to Addada, a village at a distance and left there. They presented themselves again in front of the foreign cloth shops (on 19 February). . . and started picketing. Coloured water was splashed on them after which they were taken in a bus to Komaravolu and left off there.

In one such instance, the women picketeers, due to the severity of the coloured water treatment given by the police, became unconscious and were admitted to the hospital. Within no time a huge crowd gatherer to protest against police repression and surrounded the hospital. The police were said to have been surprised to see the spontaneous popular gathering and reaction.3

These incidents illustrate how closely the whole strategy of the national movement was built around the character and framework of the colonial state. In 1930-34, the nationalist strategy was to expose the coercive character of the colonial state and its repressive state apparatus, especially the police. This strategy kept the national liberation struggle alive in the popular consciousness during the non-movement phase. Such was the close link between the framework of the colonial state and the Indian national liberation struggle. Yet there are hardly any serious works on the nature of the colonial state4 and its 'ideological state apparatus' and 'repressive state apparatus' (the army, the police, the courts, the prisons, etc.), which 'function by violence'.5 It is to bridge this gap in our historiography that David



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