ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Kanika GaubaSubscribe to Kanika Gauba

Voter, Citizen, Enemy

The ruling party’s attempts to redefine citizenship seem intent on bringing popular notions of Indianness in line with its cultural sympathies, in time for the general elections in 2019. In a post-truth age of alternate facts, it may be trite to point out that the state can change entire narratives by controlling definitions. This article examines the Citizenship Bill, 2016 and the Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Act, 2017 to find out if the erasure of the Muslim as “voter” dovetails with a radical refashioning of an “enemy” who is also a “citizen.”

Forgetting Partition

History’s silence resonates in the textual silence of the Indian Constitution on the immense scale of violence and exodus accompanying the partition of the subcontinent, despite the contemporaneity of partition and constitution writing. Clearly discernible on a closer reading of the Constituent Assembly's debates are implicit influences of partition on key constitutional decisions, such as citizenship, political safeguards for religious minorities and provisions creating a strong central tendency in the union. The constitutional memory of partition, as a freak occurrence for which the "outsider" was to be blamed, resembles the understanding of official historiography. Behind these common registers of memory lie powerful nationalist narratives of identity and unity, which indicate a deep and abiding connection between constitutional amnesia and nationalism.
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