Asserting Rights, Reclaiming Entitlements: Revolution by Masses

10 Pages Posted: 10 Dec 2014

Date Written: December 9, 2014


India is a largest, vibrant and a dynamic democracy with its strengths as well as its flaws. India has a history of colonialism and corruption, elimination and exclusion, marginalization and subjugation of certain categories of population, yet the country also has adopted a Constitution which stands on the pillars of justice, equality, liberty and fraternity and which visualize for Sovereign, Socialist, Secular, Democratic, Republic nation. Therefore, in spite of intensification of social and economic inequalities due to deep rooted biased traditions or globalization, growing poverty and vulnerability among sections of citizens clubbed with the failure of the state to deliver, people of the country have been articulating their concerns, contesting for their rights, negotiating for their spaces and reclaiming their entitlements and are engaging actively, democratically using formal and informal tools to hold state accountable. More specifically, during the last few decades, attempts have been made to utilize the right based framework to enact laws that empower citizens to demand transparency and accountability from the state thus bringing transition in the citizen-state relationship. This essay looks at the nuances of the process of socio-legal transformations over past few decades and the manner in which citizens have raised the demand for their fundamental rights and have been making attempts to strengthen mechanisms of accountability while compelling the bureaucratic structures to perform. It focuses on the manner in which common citizens have been utilizing constitutional provisions to reform the non-performing state while creating new sets of accountabilities and changing the local patterns of social and political behavior. It looks at the pressure created by the people on the state to bring about change without waiting for the state to act. The essay concludes that pro-active citizens in a democratic structure can assert power to unleash transformations using social and political processes enshrined in the Constitution using bubble up approach instead of prevalent top down one and can create a space and an alternative strategy towards a common good.

Keywords: Democracy, India, Fundmental Rights, Constitution, Exclusion, Revolution, Citizens, Masses, State, RTI, Social Transformation, Proactive citizens, entitlements, resistance

Suggested Citation

Nigam, Shalu, Asserting Rights, Reclaiming Entitlements: Revolution by Masses (December 9, 2014). Available at SSRN: or

Shalu Nigam (Contact Author)

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