Economic Citizenship in India: A Socio-Legal Comparison of Two Cases
The author discusses the evolving concept of Economic Citizenship and relates a socio-legal dimension to transnational migration to and from India. The paper explores economic citizenship by developing the definition first identified by T.H. Marshall and then uses two case studies to show contrasted applications of Marshall’s definition. Marshall states that there are three types of rights needed for an individual’s development so that s/he can exist in, participate in and contribute to society. 1.Civil rights protect personal freedom. One is entitled to exercise freedom of speech, thought and faith, own property, conclude valid contracts, and have recourse to justice. 2.Political rights allow participation and franchise rights in political environments. 3.Social rights are the right to defend and assert all of one’s rights on the same terms as other members of society and by due process of law. They relate to the “whole range from the right to a modicum of economic welfare and security to the right to share to the full in the social heritage and to live the life of a civilised being according to the standards prevailing in the society.” The paper observes that presence alone of economic opportunity in a society does not mean that the state has discharged its responsibilities to its citizens. Economic opportunity should also be legally accessible to the individual. The legal tie between economic and social aims supports the ensuing right for members of society to earn their livelihoods through the right to work. A denial of these rights should let the individual have political recourse to judicial and legislative redress. Case Study One analsyes economic citizenship in the resettlement dispute in Arunachal Pradesh of Chakma and Hajong tribes from the Chittagong Hill Tracts. These residents are indigenous people of India and are entitled to Indian citizenship by the Citizenship Act 1995, but they lack legal recognition as citizens. The State and Central Governments formally and systematically refuse rights to these individuals - in breach of the right to life guaranteed by the Constitution of India. Case Study Two analyses the economic citizenship rights for another group of individuals. It considers the role of economic citizenship as it is exercised by Non Resident Indians (NRIs), Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) and Overseas Citizens of India (OCIs) while they live and work outside India. Some persons are granted Indian citizenship by birth, while others are not. The paper concludes on two perspectives. Today's reality is that India grants economic citizenship without full political and social rights to some categories of Indians abroad and formally and informally denies economic citizenship to political citizens living on Indian territory.
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