The recent reactivation of the project of a uniform civil code (UCC) for India envisaged in 1947-48 by the Constituent Assembly and integrated as a directive principle (Article 44), or an ideal to be achieved, is triggering fresh debates. The UCC would be applicable to all religious communities in matters of marriage, divorce, inheritance, adoption, hitherto left in the hands of different religious communities. Over the years, political narratives and positions of political parties, feminists, minority groups, civil society representatives have shifted on the question. With guest speaker Arundhati Virmani, this talk discussed the shifts in responses to the implementation of a UCC in India since 1947, and its implications for democracy and minorities today. 

Arundhati Virmani is a historian, teaching at the School of advanced studies in social sciences (EHESS), Marseilles. She trained in European history, with a PhD in 19th century French history at the Sorbonne, Paris, and then reoriented her research to colonial societies. Her works on transformations of cultural and political practices from the colonial period to the contemporary moment, focus on questions of national construction, and political cultures that encompass cultural and social practices. Her publications in English and French include A National flag for India. Rituals, Nationalism and the Politics of Sentiment, Delhi, Permanent Black, 2008, 2017; Atlas Historique de l’Inde, Paris, Autrement, 2012 ; Les Indiens. Voix multiples, Paris, Ateliers Henri Dougier 2015 (Winner of the International Association of Francophone writers’ Asia Prize in 2015), ed. Political Aesthetics, Culture, critique and the everyday, (London, Routledge, 2015, 2016); ed. Aesthetic perceptions of Urban Environments (London, Routledge, 2020). Forthcoming publication: ed. With Jean Boutier and Manohar Kumar, Social Scientists and the civic space. Ethical perspectives on democratic involvement (Routledge, Delhi, 2024)

This event was organised by the Human Rights Consortium and the Institute of Commonwealth Studies.