Disasters, Displacement and Citizenship Rights

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Displacements due to hydro meteorological disasters is one of the leading causes of societal and human mobility. In recent years a growing body of literature have come to focus on the role of disasters and climate change in causing displacements. An equally large body of literature has focused on international and national responsibility to protect people on the move. It is increasingly felt at both the national and international level that people and communities displaced due to disasters and climate change should have the capacity to assert their right to protection, assistance, and rehabilitation in safer location. However, the availability and nature of right to seek protection or assistance from the State against disaster is contingent upon a person’s right as a citizen. The right to citizenship – especially the right emanating from the principle of jus solis - depends upon the permanence of a person in a physical space and may face erosion with the erosion of the space itself. This chapter focus on the dynamic of disaster in the state of Assam, where floods and flood erosion regularly erodes the right to citizenship. The erosion not only displaces people but also displaces their right to seek assistance from the state. Using empirical evidence and stories from the field it is shown that not only the disaster acts as a catalyst to break the citizenship entanglement of a person with its state, it also erodes the nature of assistant the state is willing to accord to people displaced due to disasters. The chapter borrows from Hannah Arendt’s thesis in The Origins of Totalitarianism which interrogated the contradiction in the modern conception of rights and creation of nation-state as the grantor of those rights. Arendt pointed that despite the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which makes certain rights ‘inherent to human’, it is the membership of a nation-state that actually allows humans the right to have rights. The positionality of a person as a citizen or alien against the State is instrumental in determining not only the nature of right but also the extent of protection the State will accord to such person (Arendt, 1973) . Those displaced need to have a minimum positionality as a citizen or as a refugee to assert even their most basic human rights. Based on the empirical analysis the chapter highlights that in state of Assam the geographical vulnerability intersects with political and constitutional vulnerabilities, making it arduous for certain communities to assert their positionality as citizen and demand protection, assistance, or rehabilitation against disasters. It is also highlighted that while the State through its plethora of disaster-response policies project sympathy and pittance towards flood-victims it also simultaneously comes to question the identity, belonging and citizenship status of the same victims.
Originele taal-2English
TitelCitizenship Context and Challenges
RedacteurenAmir U. Khan, Riaz F. Shaikh
Plaats van productieIndia
UitgeverijCentre for Development Policy and Practice
Aantal pagina's16
ISBN van geprinte versie978-8195344932
StatusPublished - 2021

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