Citizenship and its Discontents: An Indian History

TitleCitizenship and its Discontents: An Indian History
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsJayal, Niraja Gopal
Number of Pages366
PublisherHarvard University Press
CityCambridge, MA

In this book, Niraja Jayal writes the first history of citizenship in the largest democracy in the world—India. In this provocative biography of the defining aspiration of modern India, Jayal shows how the progressive civic ideals embodied in the constitution have been challenged by exclusions based on social and economic inequality, and sometimes also, paradoxically, undermined by its own policies of inclusion. Citizenship and Its Discontents explores a century of contestations over citizenship from the colonial period to the present, analyzing evolving conceptions of citizenship as legal status, as rights, and as identity. The early optimism that a new India could be fashioned out of an unequal and diverse society led to a formally inclusive legal membership, an impulse to social and economic rights, and group-differentiated citizenship. Once seen by Western political scientists as an anomaly, India today is a site where every major theoretical debate about citizenship is being enacted in practice, and one that no global discussion of the subject can afford to ignore.

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