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Waiting for Citizenship

Social groups that are forced to live in precarious and vulnerable conditions are effectively reduced to being non-citizens, despite being recognised as formal citizens. Th promise of the idea of citizenship as a social ideal cannot be realised as long as that this disjunct is not addressed.

he government at the centre has recently added new amendments to the Citizenship Act. The ruling elites valued the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) for its intent, as many subju- gated people, mainly the non-Muslim refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, would now be integrated as formal Indian citizens. However, the act has also drawn considerable criticism for evoking communal nationalist sentiments to define citizenship. The idea of citizenship shall be based on the ethical principle of “equality before law,” and therefore, it is suggested that such communal criterion would only damage the secular and liberatory potentials of citizenship (Mustafa 2020). Further, the simplistic idea of “becoming a citizen” is flawed and deficient, as the government has not suggested how the CAA would positively address the acute social and economic deprivation of the new entrants. The fear is that the “persecuted citizens” would eventually be entering into the precarious socio-economic fold in which a large section of India’s population already survives.

Any critical scrutiny of the qualifications of the citizens in India portends that it is blind towards multiple forms of inequalities. Citizenship has remained just an evocative popular label, but its jected to brutal harassment and social repulsions. The poor migrants, the Dalits and tribals, and sexual minorities are a substantial part of the formal citizenship rubric, however, they survive in isolation, away from the associated civil or national life available to modern citizens. For these communities, the idea of citizen- ship is farcical as the dominant social and economic order hardly allows them to operate as a free beings.

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Updated On : 31st Mar, 2020

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