ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Numbers and the Anxiety of the State


It is needless to mention that numbers as countable entities play an important role in different spheres of the economy, polity and society. But they also play a rather decisive role in institutional politics and policy regimes. Although numbers are vital, particularly in the conditions of political uncertainty, in the moment prevailing in Rajasthan right now, they also set the limits on the capacity of the state to debate about and distribute opportunities, such as reservation quotas and distributing compensatory benefits. The state in accordance with regulatory mechanisms, such as the legal system, sets limits on its own power of distribution. Thus, numbers in turn work as a cap on their own proliferation manifested, for example, in the multiplication of demands for reservations made by different castes. Arguably, in the case where the numbers enjoy constitutional legitimacy, they tend to enjoy more credibility as they are ratified from time to time. These numbers could be inadequate in terms of their capacity to embody in them the total problem, but they cannot be fake.

Numbers, thus, enjoy credibility inasmuch as they flow from constitutional provisions and through their legal ratification by the court system. They become more powerful as they tend to impose definite limits on the ruling government’s politics of extravagant populism. Put differently, politics of such populism makes the numbers and statistics lose their credibility as they get infused with fakery and deception. Numbers floated during the election campaigns are more vulnerable to such a loss. Numbers have such a quality that they can raise dust rather than raising level. Politicians use numbers just to raise dust or illusion rather than the level of the people.

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Updated On : 29th Jul, 2020
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