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

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Does Religion Define a Citizen?

This reading list assesses the ramifications of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016.

The Citizen Finds a Home

On a fact-finding trip to the Karbi Anglong district of Assam, the authors find that the “crisis of citizenship” is a structural phenomenon rooted in the history of capitalist development and community dynamics in the state. The current political dispensation of establishing the “Hindu” Bengali as the “citizen” is not only a breach of the universal principles of “citizenship,” but also has deeper implications for the unresolved ethnic conflicts in the state.

National Register of Citizens and the Supreme Court

The imminent withdrawal of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 by the union government in the face of strong protests by the residents of the north-eastern states is hardly a victory for constitutional principles or morality. It leaves “illegal migrants” in a continued limbo and heightens ethnic tensions in the North East. It also shifts the focus to the Supreme Court, which has taken upon itself the extremely delicate task of overseeing the preparation of the National Register of Citizens in Assam.

Revisiting the Nationality Question in Assam

A series of articles published in the Economic & Political Weekly during the 1980s’ Assam Movement—when the nationality debate was at its zenith—offer a context against which the issue can be revisited.

Preventive Detention under Judicial Scrutiny

The verdict of the Gauhati High Court in favour of political activist Akhil Gogoi reiterated the need to ascertain the constitutional validity for preventive detention, irrespective of the circumstances and pretexts of the detention. The judgment also called for an inquiry into the serious procedural shortcomings that led to the preventive detention order against Gogoi, as well as the “laxity and casualness” of the state in exercising power under the National Security Act, 1980.

The Communal Politics of Eviction Drives in Assam

Over the years, in Assam, there has been a disturbing denial of citizenship rights of Muslims, who are branded as Bangladeshis. In the aftermath of an eviction drive conducted by the government in Kaziranga National Park, the article focuses on the narrative that the villagers have to offer, while interrogating the nature of Assamese nationalism.

A ‘Safe’ Judgment

The triple talaq judgment of the Supreme Court is a partial victory for Muslim women since it declares instantaneous triple talaq as unlawful, but not unilateral triple talaq. Even in the case of the former, it does not declare instantaneous triple talaq as unconstitutional but only unlawful and that is a significant difference. Indian courts, even in respect of legislated laws, have not been very encouraging when it comes to personal laws being challenged on the grounds of discrimination and dignity of women.

Party with a Difference?

From adopting winnability as the core principle of nominating candidates to removing political appointees of the previous government, and in dealing with governments of opposition parties, the behaviour of the Bharatiya Janata Party has been so much like the Congress that the latter would rejoice in the assurance that there is no mukti from its ways and manners. The crucial difference between the BJP and other parties is that it is able to instil a sense of destiny not just among its rank and file but also the general public and convince it that the party is doing desh seva while others have been doing only politics.

Should the Stilwell Road be Reopened?

The Stilwell Road, running from Assam in India to Myanmar and further on to China, could act as a growth driver for the entire region. India's "Act East" policy should factor in this road while planning for new developments in this region.

Grim Portent in Assam

This article, published in the 12 April 1980 issue of the Economic and Political Weekly, reports the invoking of the Armed Forces (Assam and Manipur) Special Powers Act in the midst of the Assam agitation. As it stands today--the AFSPA is still enforced in the North East (in Assam, along the Assam-Meghalaya border) and the state is slated to go for polls on 4 April 2016.

The Khasis as Hindus

Hindu religious practices may have influenced present day monotheistic Christinatity prevalent among the Khasis. However the cultural and religious linkages between Hinduism and Christianity in Khasi Hills need to be investigated keeping in mind that there was no defined centre for the Hindu faith and the influence may have been more syncretistic than partisan.

Prospects of Peace in Assam

ULFA general secretary Anup Chetia’s extradition and release seems like a careful electoral strategy in a poll-bound state. His release may have a moral impact on the peace talks, though the strategic gains could be minimal.

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