Temple ideas

What this temple in a Tamil Nadu village can teach us about the decolonization of the police

Is it just a fanciful imagination or just a gesture of thanksgiving to otherwise forgotten policemen who protected the village from a despicable calamity? The phenomenon is too widespread and too uniform for such localized explanations, although in many cases they cannot be ruled out either.

So what could be the reason, a deeper reason?

The reason could be rooted in Swarajya.

The concept of police force was a modern concept that was introduced by the British colonialists for their benefit. The police were part of the state mechanism of state protection. They were dehumanized machine pigs. They obeyed a colonial government. They were estranged from the people and often forced to work against their own people.

They maintained law and order as demanded by the colonial state – law and order that would benefit the Empire. They replaced the usual communal protection, which was organic to the social structure of Bharat. At the same time, the police forces were well structured and well networked. They were here to stay.

Even after independence, the same police force continued with the same structure, the same value system of obedience to the state machine and the same alienation. Thus, obedience to political bosses, police brutality and corruption became systemic in India, as in most postcolonial states. In all these countries, the police system began to become brutal and corrupt.

Whereas in colonizing states the police were supposed to maintain order, serve the upper classes of society and also serve the public, in colonized states the police system was imposed to serve the colonial masters.

However, we can now say that the police are the friend of the public. The deeper coda still exists, hence the violence of human rights and the servitude to vested political interests. Courageous exceptions exist and they are only exceptions.

But Mother India is never inactive. She works and works mysteriously and majestically. She works slowly and steadily. In the hands of the village stapatis (traditional creators of divine forms) the policemen are represented in their very Western uniforms as being assistants to the guardian deities of the village. They are not cogs in the colonial and postcolonial state machine. They are not dehumanized parts of the system. They serve the Divine. They serve society as part of a sacred duty.

They are not helping a political boss or a colonial master. They assist the guardian deity of the village. And the guardian deity protects the famous “village Swarajya’. This is actually a great statement for Swarajya, autonomy. It combines the best of both worlds. The stapatis did not change the colonial uniforms. (It’s the same civilizational wisdom in the other stapatia Rashtra stapati, Dr Hedgewar, when he designed the RSS uniforms and marching tune.)