Discourse on Rights in India : Debates and Dilemmas book cover
1st Edition

Discourse on Rights in India
Debates and Dilemmas

ISBN 9780367479435
Published January 14, 2020 by Routledge India
434 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

This book is a compelling examination of the theoretical discourse on rights and its relationship with ideas, institutions and practices in the Indian context. By engaging with the crucial categories of class, caste, gender, region and religion, it draws attention to the contradictions and contestations in the arena of rights and entitlements. The chapters by eminent experts provide deep and nuanced insights on the intersecting issues and concerns of individual and group identities as well as their connection with the state along with its multifarious institutions and practices. The volume not only engages with the dilemmas emerging out of the rights discourse but also sets out to recognize the significance of a shared commitment to a rights-based framework towards the promotion of justice and democracy in society.

The book will be useful to academics, social scientists, researchers and policymakers. It will be of special interest to teachers and students in the fields of politics, development studies, philosophy, ethics, sociology, gender/women’s studies and social movements.

Table of Contents




List of Abbreviations

Introduction: Discourse on Rights in India: Debates and Dilemmas

Bijayalaxmi Nanda and Nupur Ray

Part I: Theorizing Rights: Diversity and Difference

Chapter 1

Dimensions of Power and Social Transformation

Manoranjan Mohanty

Chapter 2

Constitutionalizing Rights, Negotiating Difference: The Indian Experiment

Ashok Acharya

Chapter 3

Gender, Rights and the Justice Gap: Going Beyond the Politics of Difference

Vidhu Verma

Chapter 4

Law, Rights and Politics: Dilemmas and Responses

Anita Tagore

Chapter 5

Human Rights, Climate Change and Climate Justice

Brooke Ackerly

Chapter 6

What can Human Rights add to the Fight against Corruption? Some Lessons from India

Mitu Sengupta

Part II: Gender, Religion, Family, Work, Caste and Community: Issues and Contestations

Chapter 7

Sex-Selective Abortion and Reproductive Rights: A Syncretic Feminist Approach

Bijayalaxmi Nanda

Chapter 8

Bodily Rights and Agency: Looking at the Rights Discourse of Women in Prostitution

Nupur Ray

Chapter 9

Women in Politics and the Subject of Representations

Mary E. John

Chapter 10

The Triple Talaq Controversy: Gender Concerns and Minority Safeguards

Flavia Agnes

Chapter 11

Women and Disability: Issues of Care

Anita Ghai

Part III: The ‘Myth’ of Conflicting Rights: A Critique of the Indian State

Chapter 12

India’s Education Policy and Failures of Empathy

Harsh Mander

Chapter 13

The ‘Right’ Music: Caste and ‘Classical’ Music in South India

Krishna Menon

Chapter 14

The Trajectories of Work, Sexuality and Citizenship: The Rights of the Transgender in India

Skylab Sahu

Chapter 15

People and the Terrains: PESA Reconsidered

Ajay Dandekar

Chapter 16

Dilemmas in Kashmir: A Human Rights Perspective

Simple Mohanty

Beyond Conclusions: Discourse on Rights in India: A Case for Reflective Autonomy

Bijayalaxmi Nanda and Nupur Ray


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Bijayalaxmi Nanda is Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, Miranda House, University of Delhi, India. Her areas of specialization include political theory, feminist politics and human rights. She has been conferred the Teacher’s Excellence Award (2017) by the University of Delhi. She is actively involved with campaigns for the rights of girl children and women in India for the past two decades. Her publications include Sex-Selective Abortion and the State: Politics, Laws and Institutions in India (2018), Human Rights, Gender and Environment (co-authored, 2007) and Understanding Social Inequality: Concerns of Human Rights, Gender and Environment (co-edited, 2010). She has also contributed chapters to edited volumes and has written extensively on issues of gender discrimination, girl-child rights, health and education policies, human development and human rights.

Nupur Ray is Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, Kamala Nehru College, University of Delhi, India. Her areas of interest include political philosophy, feminist politics and political theory. She is associated with campaigns to counter violence against women in India. She has written extensively on the rights discourse and has published ‘Exploring ‘empowerment’ and ‘agency’ in Ronald Dworkin’s Theory of Rights: A Study of Women’s Abortion Rights in India’ in the Indian Journal of Gender Studies (2014). She has contributed chapters to edited volumes and presented papers at various national and international conferences.


‘Not only does this study engage with the rights discourse on its broader theoretical terrain but it also carries a particular relevance for an India whose unmatched diversity of cross-cutting identities poses distinctive problems that need to be addressed if we are to move towards a more humane and democratic order.’

Achin Vanaik, Professor and former Head, Department of Political Science, University of Delhi, Delhi, India


‘This book takes an in-depth and a contemporaneous look at some of these vexed dilemmas to provide us the much-needed clarity on how best can the framing of rights through the discourse of intersectionality can reconcile these insurmountable tensions.’

Ajay Gudavarthy, Associate Professor, Centre for Political Studies Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India


‘In these times when human rights are in peculiar jeopardy, this book brings the dilemma of rights in the centre stage of discourse and debates by theorising the issues, examining the contestations and critiquing the state.  Nothing could be as timely as this erudite work of high academic intensity.’

Sanghmitra Sheel Acharya, Professor and Director, Institute of Dalit Studies, New Delhi, India