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Debating DifferenceGroup Rights and Liberal Democracy in India$
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Rochana Bajpai

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780198067504

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198067504.001.0001

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Minority Rights in Colonial India and the Constituent Assembly

Minority Rights in Colonial India and the Constituent Assembly

A Historical Background

(p.31) 2 Minority Rights in Colonial India and the Constituent Assembly
Debating Difference

Rochana Bajpai

Oxford University Press

This chapter offers a historical interpretation of the career of group preferential policies from the late nineteenth century through to close of the Constituent Assembly debates. It shows that while group rights in the first half of the twentieth century saw steady expansion, their colonial proportions came to be scaled back eventually. The chapter also argues that the dynamic of containment assumed different degrees and forms in different areas of group rights, with the most far-reaching changes occurring in political representation for religious minorities. While Partition is usually cited to account for attenuation in the rights of religious minorities during constitution-making, this chapter suggests that it does not constitute a sufficient explanation as is commonly believed. Instead, longer-term ideological features of Indian nationalism favoured the containment of differential treatment.

Keywords:   Constituent Assembly, group rights in colonial India, religious minorities, Partition, nationalism

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