This article offers a critical analysis of the growing emphasis on security in South Asia through an ethnographic study of Operation Sadbhavna, an Indian military initiative that was launched in 2001 after the Kargil War between India and Pakistan. It demonstrates how a renewed emphasis placed on security requirements through the adoption of the development paradigm and discourses of peace building and human security further legitimizes the military's role in governance and civil society in postcolonial democratic states such as India. The data for this article derive from the project's application in the Ladakh region of the disputed Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. The ways in which the official objectives of the project were interpreted and incorporated into the political, cultural, and economic aspirations of communities in Ladakh reveal both the coercive and ambiguous nature of democracy and state power in South Asia today.

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