WE THE PEOPLE: Establishing Rights and Deepening Democracy
Edited by Nikhil Dey, Aruna Roy and Rakshita Swamy
from the RETHINKING INDIA SERIES
Who are the people of India? What are their rights?
What are their claims on the Indian Constitution and on democracy?
We the People, the fourth volume in the Rethinking India series, brings together a collection of essays that explores the process of germination and growth of undisputed universal rights, and of them being developed as tangible entitlements in India. The essays also examine the continuing challenge of establishing, realizing and protecting these entitlements.
The authors are academics, activists and practitioners who have a strong relationship with social movements. Their narratives trace the use of the rights-based framework of the Indian Constitution by sociopolitical movements in order to strengthen the economic, cultural and social rights of ordinary Indians. The multiple perspectives draw upon and contextualize the complex relationship of the citizen with the state, society and market in democratic India. Their sharp critiques have a counterpoint in stories of creative, successful alternatives designed by peoples’ collectives.
There is both an explicit and implicit challenge to conservative notions of ‘market-led development’ that see competition and profits as central to ‘progress’ and success. The essays showcase the continuing dialectic between established constitutional rights and shifting state policy. They provide invaluable insight at a time when many sacred pillars of neoliberal ‘globalization’ are crumbling, and the capitalist superstructure is itself turning to the state for survival. They promote understanding and scholarship, and enliven debates as we continue to search for answers in uncertain and challenging times.
About the Authors
Nikhil Dey is one of the founding members of the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS) and has been a full-time worker there since 1990. He has been involved in the struggles of the poor for justice and in the organization’s larger campaigns, most notably for the Right to Information and the Right to Work (MGNREGA).
Aruna Roy is a sociopolitical activist and a founder member of the MKSS, the National Campaign for People’s Right to Information, and the School for Democracy. She is president of the National Federation of Indian Women. Her list of honours includes the Ramon Magsaysay Award, the Nani Palkhivala Award and the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Award.
Rakshita Swamy is with the Social Accountability Forum for Action and Research. She has worked with civil society organizations, peoples’ campaigns, movements and government departments to learn, embrace and advocate for improved transparency, accountability and citizen participation. She has been associated with the National Campaign for People’s Right to Information and the Right to Work Campaign since 2010.