Rochana Bajpai

in Debating Difference

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780198067504
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199080410 | DOI:

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In India, the most important controversies in recent politics have centred around group rights. Do quotas for other backward classes detract from equality of opportunity or realize social justice? Do exemptions for Muslim family law undermine equal citizenship rights for all individuals or enhance secularism? This book proposes a comparative political theory approach that takes as its starting point the experience of India, a non-Western liberal democracy. It compares debates in the case of two types of groups, religious minorities, and lower castes, involving policies both of cultural rights and affirmative action. This book is divided into two parts. Part I focuses on the Constituent Assembly debates (1946–9), which marked a moment of containment in the career of group rights in India. Part II shifts to two key political debates of the late 1980s, the Shah Bano case and the Mandal debate.

Keywords: liberal democracy; lower castes; religious minorities; Shah Bano; Mandal; Constituent Assembly; cultural rights

Chapter.  10168 words. 

Subjects: Indian Politics

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