Global Citizenship


Consider the following statements –

  • There was an outpouring of sympathy and help for the victims of the tsunami which affected a number of countries in South Asia in 2004.
  • International networks link terrorists today.
  • The United Nations is working with different states to try and prevent the spread of bird flu and the possible emergence of a human viral pandemic.

What is common to the statements given above? What do they tell us about the world in which we live today?

We live today in an interconnected world. New means of communication such as the internet, and television, and cell phones, have brought a major change in the way in which we understand our world. In the past it might have taken months for news about developments in one part of the world to become known in other parts. But new modes of communication have put us into immediate contact with developments in different parts of the globe. We can watch disasters and wars on our television screens as they are taking place. This has helped to develop sympathies and shared concerns among people in different countries of the world.

Supporters of global citizenship argue that –

  • although a world community and global society does not yet exist, people already feel linked to each other across national boundaries;
  • the outpouring of help from all parts of the world for victims of the Asian tsunami and other major calamities is a sign of the emergence of a global society.
  • we should try to strengthen this feeling and work towards a concept of global citizenship.

The concept of national citizenship assumes that our state can provide us with the protection and rights which we need to live with dignity in the world today. But states today are faced with many problems which they cannot tackle by themselves. In this situation –

  • are individual rights, guaranteed by the state, sufficient to protect the freedom of people today?
  • Or has the time come to move to a concept of human rights and global citizenship?

One of the attractions of the notion of global citizenship is that it might make it easier to deal with problems which extend across national boundaries and which therefore need cooperative action by the people and governments of many states. For instance, it might make it easier to find an acceptable solution to the issue of migrants and stateless peoples, or at least to ensure them basic rights and protection regardless of the country in which they may be living.

Equal citizenship within a country can be threatened by the socio-economic inequalities or other problems which might exist. Such problems can ultimately only be solved by the governments and people of that particular society. Therefore, full and equal membership of a state remains important for people today.

The concept of global citizenship reminds us that national citizenship might need to be supplemented by an awareness that we live in an interconnected world and that there is also a need for us to strengthen our links with people in different parts of the world and be ready to work with people and governments across national boundaries.

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Bibliography : NCERT – Political Theory

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