The concept of citizenship in India is currently undergoing a massive change. The proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC) along with the newly passed Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) threatens to deepen wounds created by the 1947 Partition of India and Pakistan. Mass protest movements have been centred in India’s universities, and violent crackdowns on protests have endangered India’s students.
This talk focuses on how Hindi language has been used in these protests, focusing on the word azaadi—“freedom”. Azaadi is celebrated in decades of Hindi poetry and song, but uttering the word today invites accusations of “anti-nationalism” or even threats of criminal prosecution..