This volume presents new primary and secondary multi-disciplinary research exploring the opportunities and challenges facing civil society in today's India and Bangladesh. This locus of enquiry matters to wider contemporary understanding of citizenship, rights, religious freedom and social identities. It is published at a time of increased global uncertainties, inter alia, related to shrinking civic space, faltering international relations and political tensions, a downturn in world economy and the rise of populism. India and Bangladesh are key contexts in which the volume explores these developments – not least, because of their contrasting experiences of democracy; discrimination and inequality faced by women and girls; rapid (and uneven) economic and social development – and tensions between different faiths. In response to these uncertainties, the state and ruling elites have been accused of oppressing civil society – of suppressing the political space for civic activism and mobilisation. Certainly, in both countries new legislation has increased regulation of Non-Governmental Organisations – and, critics argue, this has stifled their freedom of expression - as well as limited the funding streams essential for NGO advocacy and democratic engagement. To explore the veracity of these claims the authors examine changing citizenship rights and the contrasts and commonalities between the two nations. Specifically, they look at the issues associated with changing gender relations – as well as religious freedom, inter-faith (in)tolerance and secularism. This new multi-disciplinary title draws on qualitative and quantitative research to offer new research findings that also contribute to theory-building on the form, functioning and democratic role of civil society in the Twenty-First Century.
Published: July 2020