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Citizenship and Its Discontents: An Indian History by Niraja Gopal Jayal

By Niraja Gopal Jayal

Breaking new floor in scholarship, Niraja Jayal writes the 1st background of citizenship within the biggest democracy within the world―India. in contrast to the mature democracies of the west, India all started as a real republic of equals with a fancy structure of citizenship rights that was once delicate to the various hierarchies of Indian society. during this provocative biography of the defining aspiration of recent India, Jayal exhibits how the innovative civic beliefs embodied within the structure were challenged by means of exclusions according to social and financial inequality, and infrequently additionally, sarcastically, undermined via its personal rules of inclusion.

Citizenship and Its Discontents explores a century of contestations over citizenship from the colonial interval to the current, reading evolving conceptions of citizenship as criminal prestige, as rights, and as id. The early optimism new India might be formed out of an unequal and numerous society resulted in a officially inclusive felony club, an impulse to social and fiscal rights, and group-differentiated citizenship. this day, those regulations to create a civic group of equals are wasting aid in a weather of social intolerance and vulnerable cohesion. as soon as obvious via Western political scientists as an anomaly, India this present day is a domain the place each significant theoretical debate approximately citizenship is being enacted in perform, and person who no international dialogue of the topic can find the money for to ignore.

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Extra info for Citizenship and Its Discontents: An Indian History

Sample text

In 1858, the monarch had declared her government’s resolve not to interfere with either the faith or customs of its Indian subjects, and to impartially admit them to the service of the government—without regard to race or creed, keeping in view only their education, integrity, and ability. Finally, she said: We hold ourselves bound to the natives of our Indian territories by the same obligations of duty which bind us to all our other subjects, and those obligations, by the blessing of Almighty God, we shall faithfully and conscientiously fill.

This signaling of the state’s unreasonable claim to the obedience of its subjects was more explicitly echoed in Annie Besant’s statement that “England must live up to her old traditions and share her birthright with 300,000,000 Indians, for the price of Indian loyalty is the gift of freedom” (Besant, 1914: 102). While citizenship was widely interpreted as implying voting rights and the right to own and inherit property, claims to citizenship were also occasionally based on arguments of military service, seen as not just a duty but a right of the citizen.

While there was sympathy in some quarters of the British establishment for the unfair denial of equal rights to Indian residents of the Dominions, there was little or no recognition of the denial of rights to Indians in India. That the rights available to Indians in Great Britain were not available to Indians within India4 did not strike the leaders of British public opinion as paradoxical or inconsistent. Again, in arguments for imperial citizenship, the putative bearers of citizenship included subaltern Indians abroad, but subaltern Indians within India were rarely part of the discursive realm of colonial citizenship claims.

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