Archive for April, 2020

The following translation of Rahul Varman’s article, “Citizenship and the Nation of the Rich in India” has been done by Vivek Mehta.

Citizenship and the Nation of the Rich in India_हिंदी

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By Rahul Varman[*]
Kanpur, March 31, 2020

The following piece was initially drafted before the nationwide alarm and lockdown over Covid-19. However, the description it provides here of the ‘nation of the rich’ complements the description and pictures we now see of the nation of destituted labourers struggling to reach their homes in the villages. — Editor

I. Introduction

The idea of being a citizen perhaps has never in the short history of this nation been so much debated and discussed as the present times; from parks, to streets, to academic institutions, to the news rooms and drawing rooms, the ideas of citizenship and the Constitution are being contested everyday and almost everywhere.

In the wake of the devastation of World War II, the Bengal famine and the catastrophe of Partition, and as the culmination of the long striving and struggle of the Indian people against colonial rule, the Indian republic and a constitutional democracy came into being some 70 years back.  They came with a promise to wipe out the memory of colonial rule, in which most Indians were rendered as lesser beings in their own land. The new republic and its Constitution promised welfare and freedom for all, respect for life, liberty, dignity and opportunities for every individual to realise his/her potential without any discrimination based on the chance of birth. It promised the citizens equality, freedom to conduct their own affairs and speak their minds, as well as protection from discrimination and exploitation. In the form of ‘directive principles’, the Constitution proclaimed a vision of justice, development, welfare and prosperity for each individual, for which the new nation-state was supposed to strive after the war, famine, partition and the long period of colonial rule. It also provided for an elaborate structure of State machinery to achieve these objectives.

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