India’s civil society moment | The Indian Express

2020-01-31 | 2 minutes

Context: Students and other stakeholders in civil society are continuing their protest against Citizenship Amendment Act for a long time.

Concept of civil society: Civil society refers to voluntary associations and social movements. Civil society is a normative concept as citizens evaluate and judge government actions on the basis of certain civic values and norms. This results into voluntary associations and social movements against actions of government.

Civil society movements worldwide and their effectiveness: Since the last decades of the 20th century, world has seen many civil society mobilizations against authoritarian governments. Velvet Revolutions in Eastern Europe in 1989 caused replacement of Czechoslovakia’s Communist government with a parliamentary republic. In 2006, movements against monarchy in Nepal caused replacement of monarchy with democracy. In 2007 and 2008, electoral democracy returned into Pakistan due to pro-democracy movements by lawyers against military rule. In 2010, protests against autocrats in several countries in West Asia developed into Arab Spring and caused removal of autocrats from power. Pro-democracy movements against authoritarian rule are continuing since June 2019.

Opinion on continued protests against CAA: As CAA makes people eligible for citizenship on the basis of their religion and country, continued protests against CAA by students and civil society are not ill-informed and misplaced. The opinion of political leaders in government is that fears against CAA are misplaced and misinformed because CAA does is not aimed at taking citizenship. The protest against CAA show that civil society in India is not accepting mixing of religious identity and citizenship and weakening of constitutional values like secularism and equality. The protests that have continued for long time also show that civil society in India is also trying to hold government accountable for its laws. The protests also show that students, youth and civil society of India are against government policies violating democratic and secular principles of constitution.   


Continued protests by civil society members show that people are recognizing their right to hold government accountable for its actions. The spontaneous mobilization of civil society in India shows that people want government to be accountable for the Constitution and respect constitutional morality. Civil society movements worldwide have promoted democracy in different countries. Civil society protests against CAA will ensure deepening of constitutional and democratic values in India.