Dr. Nishant Shahani‘s essay “Patently Queer: Late Effects and the Sexual Economies of India” was published in GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies (2017, Duke University Press) 23(2), Pg. 195-220.
In 1998 the Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis filed a writ petition against the Indian government to prevent local drug manufacturers from producing generic HIV and cancer medications. Rather than framing queer politics in India as a matter of state-sanctioned citizenship in which queers rally for legal rights, “Patently Queer: Late Effects and the Sexual Economies of India” considers this case of Novartis AG v. Union of India as a kind of sexual economy. I argue for a consideration of the “late effects” that subtend the sexual economies of India—that is, material mechanisms of delay in access that run counter to the putative logics of flexibility and mobility that inform India in a postliberalization milieu. I show how the liberalized Indian state is mediated by transnational formations and global imperatives of capitalism, and in turn manages local sexual economies that seek to preserve heteronormative logics of essentialized Indianness. While economic liberalization after the 1990s closely parallels the emergence of burgeoning gay visibility in India, my aim is to theorize the fault lines rather than the compatibility between sexual politics and economic imperatives of growth that mark the accelerated development of an “incredible” or “shining” India.