The Flux of the Matter: Loyalty, Corruption and the ‘Everyday State’ in the Post-Partition Government Services of India and Pakistan

William Gould, Taylor C. Sherman, Sarah Ansari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article explores the new levels of uncertainty and fluidity produced by independence, partition and the integration of the princely states, and it investigates the impact of these events on the everyday state in India and Pakistan in the years immediately following 1947. The flux witnessed in this period brought forth new questions about how to define loyalty in government service, and stirred new suspicions about the presence of minorities and political opponents within the services. The mass movements of people at this time incited fresh forms of jealousy over which groups had most success at securing government jobs and reignited older demands for access to government employment. The realisation of self-rule likewise heightened sensitivity about corruption in the services and inspired a wave of efforts to end corruption. This article explores the complex ways in which postcolonial rulers responded to these anxieties and sought to alleviate the sense of uncertainty that pervaded this period. Together, these linked events reconfigured the composition of the police and bureaucracy, and transformed the ideational underpinnings of the role of the government servant in both India and Pakistan
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)237-279
JournalPast and Present
Issue number1
Early online date5 Mar 2013
Publication statusPublished - May 2013

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