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Politics and Society in Modern India

Thursday, 14:30-16:30, 502

 

Participants

 

Abstract

'An Imperial Village': Communications, Media and Globalization in India under the British Raj

TThe 'Communication revolution', the 'Information superhighway', and 'Globalization', are all terms that have become, in recent decades, ubiquitous in scholarship across a range of disciplines, and, virtually synonymous with the contemporary age. Yet, their roots are firmly historical. I hope to throw light on the historical processes of globalization associated with imperial expansion through the critical prism afforded by media and communications. Britain's capacity to sustain the largest empire in modern history was predicated upon the organisation, speed and reach of its communications. This paper seeks to explore the political culture and communicational impact of Britain's global empire through an analysis of certain key aspects of Britain's relationship with its largest imperial possession in the 19th and 20th centuries – the sub-continent of India.

 

The Citizenship Debate in the Making of India's Constitution

This paper examines what notions of the relations between the state and various groups of its citizens informed India's constitution making, and how this provided a basis for the unity of the nation. Focusing on a single article in the constitutional debates - Article 5AA on Citizenship - as well as on other foundational building blocks in the institution of citizenship, which became a subject of contestation in the determination of membership in the nation and its character at the moment of the birth of the new state, the paper aims to show that constitution makers, in the long dialogical process of the debates, gave enough space for different, even contradictory, views of the relations between the state and its citizens to exist, compete and legitimately make counter claims of each other. While aspiring for democratic universal citizenship, the constitution makers did not ultimately define a single view in designating state-citizen relations. In so doing, they provided the scope over the decades for India's profoundly diverse people to make contending claims from the state, while remaining members within a unitary nation. The makers and drafters of the Constitution did not produce, as is often claimed, a synthesis of a secular composite culture. The different conceptions of state-citizen relations that informed constitution making have been living together separately, keeping a live tension and sufficient space to prevent any one conception from being overly dominant and stifling the others.

 

Now Here, No There: The case of Education of Children of Migrant and Displaced Communities in Asia

TSouth Asia is characterized by migration sometimes as a way of life of communities and more often forced due to poverty, livelihood compulsions, security concerns, natural denudations, big dams, 'beautification drives' of cities and towns (to mention a few) as south Asia clambers to be placed on the 21st century map as a global presence. Little noticed in policy and planning are the millions of child labourers, a direct outcome of displacement.

Home to 39.2% of the world's population half of whom are women, South Asia is the planet's poorest region. About 540 million people, or 45 percent of the region's population, live below poverty line, with daily incomes of less than one dollar. This proportion is higher than in Sub-Saharan Africa, East Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America, the Caribbean and the Pacific region including China.

The SAARC Social Charter Article (1) 3 proposes a people-centered framework for social development to guide their work and in the future, to build a culture of cooperation and partnership and to respond to the immediate needs of those who are most affected by human distress. In particular, the Charter reaffirms the belief that discrimination against women and children is incompatible with human rights and dignity; that it prevents children from realizing their social and economic potential and their participation and is thus a serious obstacle to the full development of their personality and in their contribution to the social and economic development of their countries.

The Social Charter provides a useful frame for initiatives in South Asia. Researchers in South Asian countries have been engaged in systematic exchange and collaboration a wide range of issues and themes and these exchanges have strengthened over the last two decades. This maturing of interactions provides opportunities to initiate sustained and focused engagement on critical issues related to children of the dispossessed communities in South Asian countries

Enabling and facilitate exchanges between various partners in South Asia who have proven experience in providing conceptual understanding and in generating field based action for the children's rights among the migrant/displaced communities empowerment is a crucial step to needed to energise pan Asian efforts to meet the Millenium Development Gaols. It must be emphasized that irrespective of the type of regimes, state of the economy and geo-cultural specificities, the stark fact is that child labour, an outcome of children out-of-school remain similar in proportion in the countries of South Asia. As partners in these areas from each country come together, share their experiences and learn from each other, it is expected that partners would identify those with whom they share mutual interest and thereafter evolve sustained plans of action for working together.