The project aims to research the emergent reimaginations of citizenship in India and to document and archive these stories for posterity.
Beginning in November 2019, India witnessed a historic moment in time, the largest spontaneous countrywide protest since Independence. The passage of the CAA and the subsequent announcement of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) were the triggers for this. For the first time in India’s recent past, thousands of people took to the streets, in large cities and small villages alike, to protest against the unconstitutional, draconian and biased law that is sure to have deep implications for the country’s foundational constitutional values.
The law, enacted by India’s Hindu nationalist government and its allies who control Parliament, not only introduces religious filters that undermine the secular principles of India’s constitution but also mandates that Indians prove their citizenship by being enlisted in the NRC under preparation, failing which they risk being detained in upcoming detention centres and face deportation. Under the new law, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsees and Christians from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan will find their citizenship claims fast-tracked. The law exposes India’s 200 million-odd Muslims vulnerable to being stripped of their citizenship and rendered stateless. In protest, hundreds of thousands of Indians took to the stress in the later months of 2019, against the discriminatory nature of the laws, to protect the secular principles of their constitution and reclaim inclusive ideals of citizenship. The state’s response was brutal, as violence by police and government-backed vigilantes is unleashed on peaceful and protestors, and protest leaders are arbitrarily detained.
In light of this, this project aims to research the emergent re-imaginations of citizenship in India. It will do so in the context of recent amendments to India’s citizenship laws which threaten to spark the largest crisis of citizenship and statelessness ever witnessed in the world, directly threatening 200 million Muslims and indirectly threatening many millions of Dalits, Adivasis, internal circular labour migrants and poor people across the country.