Citizenship: A Comparative Study of India and Nepal

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During the last century, the concept of citizenship has witnessed a growing interest after it almost went out of vogue. A plethora of literature during this period has been written during this period which has led to it becoming a ‘cluster concept’ by interaction of other similar concepts. This body of literature runs on the same undercurrent of redefining citizenship owing to the changed circumstances of its return.

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Earlier, the concept of citizenship was state-centric. Previously states attempted to consolidate themselves into a homogenous state in conformity of its ideal of a unitary character. However, owing to the growing presence of cultural diversity within states, they are forced to evaluate the traditional character of its citizenship to accommodate such cultural diversity. National homogenization has often led to violence among countries like in countries like the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, China, Burma, Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan.

This growing sentiment of accommodation and tolerance towards group gave birth to the concept to of multiculturalism in the West. In Asia, due to its unique geopolitical and socioeconomic nature, each indigenous culture has its own recipe of unity among diversity. A common factor among these Asian countries is the legacy of colonialism which continues to shape the cultural and legal discourse in these countries till date. Therefore although originally a Western model, this rhetoric is now widely used in both western and non-western societies all around the world.

This paper focuses on a comparative study of the legal discourse on citizenship of India and Nepal from a multicultural approach. These two particular countries are taken due to a number of similarities share. Both the countries are democracies and have a similar for, of government. The legal system of both these countries are based upon the common law system. Both countries have faced legal issues regarding citizenship owing to the diversity in the composition of their population groups. Asian multiculturalism interconnected with democracy and a democratic state is needed to ensure equality of citizenship to all its members. Kymlicka’s theory is particularly chosen because he is the most influential multicultural theorist. The paper compares the judicial discourse of both the countries to determine whether the legal discourse is sufficiently accommodates the idea of ‘multiculturalism’ as envisioned by Kymlicka in his theories.

Citizenship- A Multiculturalist approach

Since the mid-1970s, a trend was seen in Western democracies towards the concept of diversity by recognizing multiculturalist policies and minority rights. Earlier the idea of a homogenous nationhood had gained traction. But till 1990s multiculturalism continued to be an appealing concept altogether. Multiculturalist policies were endorsed at both the state and national level as well as by international organizations.

The crux of multiculturalism is based upon the notion of accommodating cultural diversity.

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