Nationalist Discourse and Group Rights

Rochana Bajpai

in Debating Difference

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780198067504
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199080410 | DOI:
Nationalist Discourse and Group Rights

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This chapter argues that nationalist discourse on group rights in the Constituent Assembly of India is best understood as comprising a set of interlinked concepts — secularism, democracy, social justice, national unity, and development. In historical terms, it shows that the dominant interpretation of the nationalist vocabulary in this period was opposed to special provisions for minority groups. As these were seen as a threat to national unity, other concepts of the nationalist vocabulary such as secularism and justice were also construed as antithetical to group-differentiated rights. Indian nationalism spoke in a common, liberal voice against group-differentiated rights in this period, with modernist ideas likely gaining ground as these accorded with Hindu opinion on minority rights. Finally, focusing on secularism, the chapter argues that the nationalist vocabulary was substantially liberal democratic in character, even as it was inflected by indigenous historical and cultural idioms.

Keywords: group rights; Constituent Assembly; secularism; democracy; social justice; national unity; minority groups; nationalism; nationalist vocabulary

Chapter.  17982 words. 

Subjects: Indian Politics

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