Author: Romila Thapar & N. Ram & Gautam Bhatia & Gautam Patel
The essays in this volume give the reader a proper understanding of what Indian citizenship means, the threats to it, and what each citizen of this country needs to do, in the words of N. Ram, ‘to reflect on and reset perspectives on what secular, democratic, rights-bearing citizenship means in the contemporary world and what needs to be done to find a way back to the core values of the Indian republic as set out in the preamble to the constitution—justice, liberty, equality, and fraternity’. In On Citizenship, four of India’s finest public intellectuals go deep into key aspects of what constitutes citizenship in India, an issue that has lately been the subject of furious public debate, as a result of controversial decisions by the government in power. In the lead essay in this volume, ‘The Right to be a Citizen’, the historian Romila Thapar explores how citizenship evolved in India and the rest of the world. In addition, she examines the rights of citizens and analyses the state’s duties towards its citizens. In his essay, ‘The Evolving Politics of Citizenship in Republican India’, the editor and political commentator N. Ram provides a cogent and succinct political history of citizenship in the sovereign, secular, democratic republic of India. In ‘Citizenship and the Constitution’, the legal scholar and writer Gautam Bhatia explores constitutional provisions relating to citizenship. He shows how Part II of the Constitution ‘articulates a vision of Indian citizenship that is interwoven with the Indian constitutional identity as a whole: secular, egalitarian, and non-discriminatory’. The essay by the jurist Gautam Patel, ‘Past Imperfect, Future Tense’, looks at, among other things, the organization of key provisions of the Constitution, and how they relate to citizenship, with an emphasis on the relationship between citizenship and fundamental rights. Taken together, the essays in On Citizenship provide the reader with clear, informed, compelling insights into the vexed issue of citizenship in India today.