The Issue of Citizenship in a Multicultural Society: A Case Study of India
The process of nation building in a multicultural society has been a complex phenomenon. Nation is considered as a group of people, which has common cultural and ethnic identities. People who have common values, language, history, customs and traditions come under the arena of nation as per the well accepted definition of nationhood. But in a society where groups of diverse cultural identity reside, process of nation building is not so easy. In such a society parameters of nationality cannot be universal.
Universal citizenship declines the plurality of society whereas unity of a nation state resides in acceptance of its diversity. During the freedom struggle, India was also struggling with the same problem. But the main stream of Indian freedom struggle was motivating the spirit of unity in diversity. On the other hand the British imperialism was trying to divide the unity on the basis of diversity. Some fundamentalist groups also helped Britishers to achieve their goal. After independence constitutional framers provided the provisions of differentiated citizenship in Indian Constitution and they gave recognition to Indian diversity as indispensible part of society. But politics of fundamentalism increased the politics of identity to achieve maximum profits of citizenship because distribution of every profit by state is based on categorization of citizenship.
The politics of majoritiarianism got operated in post independance India especially after 90s. Majoritarinism believes that universal citizenship is a better option rather than differentiated citizenship. In the name of unity of nation, they try to protest the differentiated citizenship. So this is a dilemma in a multicultural society like India, whether universal citizenship will maintain unity or differentiated citizenship could be the only pillar of unity. This paper makes an attempt to analyse the contemporary issues of citizenship in a multicultural society like India which has a diverse fabric of languages, customs, traditions, cultural values. It is constitutional duty of the State to protect the fabric of multiculturalism through the practice of differentiated citizenship. This research paper is based on secondary data. Hypothesis behind this research is that in a multicultural society citizenship is always differentiated and categorical because of plural fabric of the society. The citizens should not be treated on universal laws by the State. If it tries to do so, democracy converts in the tyranny of majority.
Keywords - Nation Building, Multicultural Society, Universal Citizenship, Differentiated Citizenship, Politics of Identity, Majoritiarianism