Afterword
B
While Banerjea’s articulation of citizenship remains suffused with a
sense of loss or failure, the idea of imperial citizenship did gain ground
in various guises in the early decades of the twentieth century. Even
as official policies of imperial citizenship discussed by various colonial
officials, functionaries, and visionaries failed to take off, and even as
legislation like the British Nationality and Status of Aliens Act of 1914
failed to bear fruit for Indians, the concept of imperial citizenship it-
self continued to gain prominence as the rallying point for a political
vocabulary, inasmuch as it provided the ground for articulating liberal
universalist ideals of citizenship. For instance, the Imperial Indian
Citizenship Association, founded in Bombay in 1914, functioned as a
watchdog for the rights of Indians across the British Empire, concern-
ing itself with the “Indian question” particularly in South Africa, East
Africa (especially Kenya), and Fiji.1 As one of the association’s found-
ing members noted: “To our Indian fellow-countrymen, our message
is one of fearless pursuit of civic rights and absolute equality shorn of
every humiliating disability on any racial or economic ground.”2 But
even as the association sought to act as a clearinghouse, disseminating
information about Indian grievances across the empire and stepping up
appeals to relevant authorities both in India and the settler-colonies, it
also had the objective of making the case for imperial citizenship before
Indians living in India itself: “It is no longer possible,” one of the group’s
reports pointed out, “for the Colonies and Dominions to legislate for
these Indians without provoking the closest scrutiny on the part of the
Indian public.”3
Indeed, the discussion on citizenship was quite an active one in India,
in ways that linked civic rights with political autonomy, and civil liber-
ties with the franchise.4 In his 1919 Rights of Citizens, S. Satyamurthy
provided a treatise on modern citizenship, emphasizing that “the State
is no longer a sovereign power which commands” but “a group of indi-
viduals having in their control forces which they must employ to create
and to manage public service.”5 Interestingly, Satyamurthy appended
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