Notes of Ch 6 Citizenship| Class 11th Political Science

Introduction

• Citizenship has been defined as full and equal membership of a political community.

• In the contemporary world, states provide a collective political identity to their members as well as certain rights. Therefore we think of ourselves as Indians, or Japanese, or Germans, depending on the state to which we belong.

• Citizens expect certain rights from their state as well as help and protection wherever they may travel.

• In most democratic countries today they would include some political rights like the right to vote, civil rights like the freedom of speech or belief, and some socio-economic rights which could include the right to a minimum wage, or the right to education.

• Equality of rights and status is one of the basic rights of citizenship.

• Each of the rights now enjoyed by citizens has been won after struggle.

• Many European countries experienced such struggles, some of them violent, like the French Revolution in 1789.

• In the colonies of Asia and Africa, demands for equal citizenship formed part of their struggle for independence from colonial rulers.

• In South Africa, the black African population had to undertake a long struggle against the ruling white minority for equal citizenship. This continued until the early 1990s.

• However, citizenship is about more than the relationship between states and their members. It
is also about citizen-citizen relations and involves certain obligations of citizens to each other and to the society.

Full and Equal Membership

• One of the rights granted to citizens in our country, and in many others, is freedom of movement.

• This right is of particular importance for workers. Labour tends to migrate in search of jobs when opportunities are not available near their homes.

• Some people may even travel outside the country in search of jobs.

• However, often resistance builds up among the local people against so many jobs going to people from outside the area, sometimes at lower wages.

• Resistance could even take the form of organised violence against ‘outsiders’.

• Another factor that we need to consider is that there may sometimes be a difference between our response to poor migrants and to skilled migrants. We may not always be as welcoming to poor migrants who move into our areas as we may be to skilled and affluent workers.

• These are some of the issues which are being debated in our country today regarding ‘full and equal membership’ for all citizens of the country.

• However, disputes may sometimes arise even in democratic societies.

• The right to protest is an aspect of the freedom of expression guaranteed to citizens in our Constitution, provided protest does not harm the life or property of other people or the State.

• If the guiding principle of providing full and equal membership to all citizens is kept in mind, it should be possible to arrive at an acceptable solution to the problems that may arise from time to time in a society.

• A basic principle of democracy is that such disputes should be settled by negotiation and discussion rather than force.

Equal Rights

Slum Dwellers

• There is a large population of slum-dwellers and squatters in every city in India. Although they may do necessary and useful work, often at low wages, they are often viewed as unwelcome visitors by the rest of the town population.

• Life and property are insecure in a slum. However, slum dwellers make a significant contribution to the economy through their labour.

• Awareness about the condition of the urban poor is growing among governments, N.G.O’s and other agencies, and among the slum-dwellers themselves.

• Slum-dwellers also are becoming aware of their rights and are beginning to organise to demand them.

Tribal People

• Among other groups of people who are becoming marginalised in our society are the tribal people and forest dwellers.

• These people are dependent on access to forests and other natural resources to maintain their way of life.

•  Pressures from commercial interests wanting to mine the resources which may exist in forests or coasts poses another threat to the way of life and livelihood of forest dwellers and tribal peoples, as does the tourist industry.

• Governments are struggling with the problem of how to protect these people and their habitat without at the same time endangering development of the country.

Complex Equal Rights

• To try and ensure equal rights and opportunities for all citizens cannot be a simple matter for any government.

• Different groups of people may have different needs and problems and the rights of one group may conflict with the rights of another.

• Equal rights for citizens need not mean that uniform policies have to be applied to all people since different groups of people may have different needs.

•  The formal laws regarding citizenship only form the starting point and the interpretation of laws is constantly evolving.

• The concept of equal citizenship would mean that providing equal rights and protection to all citizens should be one of the guiding principles of government policies.

Citizen and Nation

• The concept of nation state evolved in the modern period.

• Nation states claim that their boundaries define not just a territory but also a unique culture and shared history.

• The national identity may be expressed through symbols like a flag, national anthem, national language, or certain ceremonial practices, among other things.

• Most modern states include people of different religions, languages, and cultural traditions. But the national identity of a democratic state is supposed to provide citizens with a political identity that can be shared by all the members of the state.

• Democratic states usually try to define their identity so that it is as inclusive as possible — that is, which allows all citizens to identify themselves as part of the nation. But in practice, most countries tend to define their identity in a way which makes it easier for some citizens to identify with the state than others.

• France, for example, is a country which claims to be both secular and inclusive. It includes not only people of European origin but also citizens who originally came from other areas such as North Africa.

• Culture and language are important features of its national identity and all citizens are expected to assimilate into it in the public aspects of their lives. However they may retain their personal beliefs and practices in their private lives.

• Religious belief is supposed to belong to the private sphere of citizens but sometimes religious symbols and practices may enter into their public lives.

• The criteria for granting citizenship to new applicants varies from country to country. In countries such as Israel, or Germany, factors like religion, or ethnic origin, may be given priority when granting citizenship.

• India defines itself as a secular, democratic, nation state. The movement for independence was a broad based one and deliberate attempts were made to bind together people of different religions, regions and cultures.

• The Indian Constitution attempted to accommodate a very diverse society.

• The Republic Day parade in Delhi symbolises the attempt of the state to include people of different regions, cultures and religions.

• The provisions about citizenship in the Constitution can be found in Part Two and in subsequent laws passed by Parliament.

• In India, citizenship can be acquired by birth, descent, registration, naturalisation, or inclusion of territory.

• There is also a provision that the state should not discriminate against citizens on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth, or any of them.

• The rights of religious and linguistic minorities are also protected.

• However, even such inclusive provisions have given rise to struggles and controversies.
→ The women’s movement, the dalit movement, or struggles of people displaced by development projects, represent only a few of the struggles being waged by people who feel that they are being denied full rights of citizenship.

Universal Citizenship

• Although many states may support the idea of universal and inclusive citizenship, each of them also fixes criteria for the grant of citizenship.

• These would generally be written into the Constitution and laws of the country. States use their power to keep unwanted visitors out.

• People may be displaced by wars, or persecution, famine, or other reasons. If no state is willing to accept them and they cannot return home, they become stateless peoples or refugees. They may be forced to live in camps, or as illegal migrants.

• The problem is so great that the U.N. has appointed a High Commissioner for Refugees to try to help them.

• Many countries have a policy of accepting those fleeing from persecution or war. But they may not want to accept unmanageable number of people or expose the country to security risks.

• India provided refuge to persecuted peoples, as it did with the Dalai Lama and his followers in 1959

• The problem of stateless people is an important one confronting the world today.

Global Citizenship

• We live today in an interconnected world. New means of communication such as the internet, and television, and cell phones have changed the way of living.

• New modes of communication have put us into immediate contact with developments in different parts of the globe.

• Supporters of global citizenship argue that although a world community and global society does not yet exist, people already feel linked to each other across national boundaries. They would say that the outpouring of help from all parts of the world for victims of the Asian tsunami and other major calamities is a sign of the emergence of a global society.

• The notion of global citizenship might make it easier to deal with problems which extend across
national boundaries and which therefore need cooperative action by the people and governments of many states.

• The concept of global citizenship reminds us that national citizenship might need to be supplemented by an awareness that we live in an interconnected world and that there is also a need for us to strengthen our links with people in different parts of the world and be ready to work with people and governments across national boundaries.
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