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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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From Minority to Backward

From Minority to Backward

The Nationalist Resolution of the ‘Minorities Question’

(p.116) 4 From Minority to Backward
Debating Difference

Rochana Bajpai

Oxford University Press

That legislative and employment quotas for religious minorities in India were eventually withdrawn from the constitution and quotas for ‘backward classes’ retained, albeit in a weaker form, is entirely consistent with the normative resources for group-differentiated rights in nationalist discourse. As the deliberations of the Constituent Assembly unfolded, the nationalist vocabulary expanded to become the new legitimating framework of the polity, the language in which all political argument was conducted. During the Constituent Assembly debates, and in part through the process of debating, both the institutional forms of group rights and the discursive frame of the Indian polity came to be realigned: nationalists were able to translate their dominance into hegemony. This is established through an analytical reconstruction of positions in debates over three key institutional mechanisms for group rights: legislative quotas, employment quotas, and cultural and educational rights.

Keywords:   Constituent Assembly, nationalist vocabulary, legislative quotas, employment quotas, cultural rights, educational rights, religious minorities

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