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  • Multiculturalism in India: An Exception?

    Rochana Bajpai

    Chapter from the book: Ashcroft R. & Bevir M. 2019. Multiculturalism in the British Commonwealth: Comparative Perspectives on Theory and Practice.


    Chapter 7 details the “multicultural” elements in the Indian Constitution of 1950, which have given rise to an extensive regime of group rights that ranges across many policy areas and levels of government. The chapter puts forward three key theses regarding the constitutional settlement and Indian multiculturalism more broadly. Firstly, rejection of colonial forms of devolved governance, and the convergence of different the interests during constitution-making, “limited” the resulting multicultural framework in several respects. Secondly, India’s constitutional compromise means that even this limited multiculturalism struggles in terms of normative justification. Thirdly, this “normative deficit” means that any expansions of multicultural policies are seen as discretionary concessions motivated by electoral considerations rather than matters of justice, playing into the rhetorical strategies of the Hindu right. The chapter concludes that multiculturalism in India needs to recover resources from a range of alternative traditions, including communitarian secularism, group rights, fair equality of opportunity, and radical participatory democracy.

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    Bajpai, R. 2019. Multiculturalism in India: An Exception?. In: Ashcroft R. & Bevir M (eds.), Multiculturalism in the British Commonwealth. California: University of California Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1525/luminos.73.g

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    Published on July 12, 2019