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Economic Citizenship in India: A Case Study from Arunachal Pradesh
Binda Sahni
This article discusses the evolving concept of economic citizenship and relates a socio-legal dimension to the resettlement process in India of the Chakma and Hajong Tribes from the Chittagong Hill Tracts. It explores the concept of economic citizenship by developing the definition first identified by T.H. Marshall, who states that the three types of rights – civil, political and social – are needed for an individual’s development so that s/he can exist in, participate in and contribute to society. This article observes that the presence alone of economic opportunity in a society does not mean that the state has discharged its responsibilities to its citizens. Economic opportunity should also be legally accessible to the individual. The legal tie between economic and social aims supports the ensuing right for members of society to earn their livelihoods through the right to work. A denial of these rights should let the individual have political recourse to judicial and legislative redress. The featured case study analyses the role of economic citizenship in the resettlement dispute in Arunachal Pradesh of the Chakma and Hajong tribes from the Chittagong Hill Tracts. These residents are indigenous people of India and are entitled to Indian citizenship by the Citizenship Act, 1995, but they lack legal recognition as citizens. The state and Central Governments formally and systematically refuse rights to these individuals—in breach of the right to life guaranteed by the Constitution of India. The article concludes that India has denied economic citizenship to many political citizens living on Indian territory.

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