The issue of citizenship has been dominating the public discourse when Assam released the draft of an updated National Register of Citizens (NRC) leaving out 40 lakh of 3.29 crore applicants for inclusion.
Apeejay Kolkata Literary Festival (AKLF) and Oxford Bookstore hosted an enthralling discussion session titled “Am I a Citizen?” The program, held as part of the 10th anniversary celebration of Apeejay Kolkata Literacy Festival (AKLF), touched upon various contemporary issues on citizenship.The India we live in today reflects the democratic values and principles enshrined in our Constitution that was adopted by a new nation soon after its independence in 1947. India was identified as a proponent of free citizenship where region, religion, and caste blurred against the identity of the citizen and where “Unity in Diversity” caught the imagination of the masses. Celebrating diversity has kept India’s unity afloat these seventy years. Recent incidents like the NRC, the arrest of human rights activists and others have brought in the question what constitutes being called a citizen? Is it simply a case of possession of legal documents or is it also about the imagined identity construed by the powers of the state? Discussing India’s diversity and exclusions, Christophe Plais, Designer, Anjum Katyal, Director AKLF, Debaroti Chokroborty, faculty member Presidency University, Gargi Ghosal, an M.A student of Presidency University and Atasi Ghosh, Lawyer, as the moderator, shared their valuable insights. The questions of dissent, religious and caste-based exclusions, being secular and the role of the citizen figure in present times were also deliberated on. The audience chipped in with personal anecdotes and views making the session more nuanced and interactive.