By bringing in the CAA, India is showing signs of waking up from its 1,000 years’ forced slumber. It is once again taking baby steps in the path of Dharma. The Dharma of giving ‘Abhaya’ to the persecuted.
– Vikram Phadke
The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) which successfully passed through both Houses of Parliament and also secured President’s nod has captured the national narrative in the past week. As it should be with any law, the amendment to the Citizenship Act, 1955 has been hotly debated, deliberated and contested, both within and outside the Parliament.
Before going into the need and timing of the amendment and the controversies surrounding it, it would be worthwhile to see what the amendment entails. (This would act as a background for analysing the surrounding controversies and to see whether the brouhaha really merits any justification.)
The Constitution Of India in its Articles 5 to 11 speaks about the Citizenship of India. The Citizenship Act, 1955 is the specific law enacted with regard to Citizenship of India, giving effect to the Constitutional provisions. It speaks about various forms of citizenship: by birth, by descent, by registration, by naturalization, etc. The Act, while dealing with Citizenship, naturally defines as to who are illegal migrants. (Illegal migrants are liable to be removed / thrown out of India under the provisions of The Indian Passports Act and The Foreigners Act). The CAB exempts Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis & Christians who have entered India from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh from being treated as illegal migrants, thereby paving the way for grant of Indian Citizenship.
The question arises as to why this exemption is being carved out for these communities and why from these countries. Admittedly Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh are Muslim majority countries; Pakistan and Afghanistan being Islamic Republics, where Muslims enjoy better rights over minorities. Systematic ethnic cleansing through the barbaric instruments of mass murder, forced conversion, wanton rapes, illegal taking over of property, have reduced the Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian population in Pakistan and Afghanistan (which is well documented and even a cursory browsing of the internet gives shocking details of the crimes perpetrated against the said minorities in Pakistan and Afghanistan). Bangladesh converting into an Islamic State i.e professing Islam as State Religion, has witnessed spurt in hate crimes (ranging from murder, rape, arson, destruction of places of worship of Hindus, Buddhists, tribals) in the recent years.
Due to severe persecution of the said communities, hordes of distressed people have crossed over to India seeking protection. The location of these countries shows that the persecuted minorities of these countries either have roots in India or associate with the Indian Culture (these countries being part of Undivided India as recent as in the 1940s). Given their pathetic economic condition (result of being constantly persecuted) and their close territorial proximity with India, they are not in a position to migrate elsewhere. They look upon India as their saviour and have come with a hope of survival (unlike those who illegally migrate for better economic conditions or those who are systematically pushed inside for dangerous machinations).
Given this background, the question naturally follows as to why there should be such a hue and cry against this amendment. For anyone who has kept an open eye on the contemporary politics of independent India, it wouldn’t be much of a surprise as the persons crying hoarse against the amendment are the same / usual suspects who pander to so-called ‘Muslim’ sentiments. They call themselves ‘progressives’, ‘liberals’, ‘thinkers’, ‘human rights activists’, i.e. all those who were pensioners of the erstwhile Congress regimes in India. Couched in words of benign indignation- ‘violation of the secular principles of Indian Constitution’, the underlying sentiment (which has nevertheless been openly stated in the Parliamentary debates on CAA) is that it hurts the ‘Muslims’ and it makes provision only for communities other than Muslims, thus hurting ‘Muslims’.
But, any open minded person would definitely ask as to where is the hurting of ‘Muslims’ in this amendment. Let alone speaking anything against Muslims, it doesn’t’ even utter the word Muslim or refers to them. As the context and the need of the amendment amply demonstrates, the amendment is aimed at those communities which have faced persecution due to their minority-hood in the respective countries. Can it be conceived that professed Islamic countries persecute Muslims for being Muslims? It cannot be true in theory and is actually not true on facts. However, it might definitely be so in the imagination of those who are opposing CAA.
The opposition to CAA betrays two things: the hypocrisy of those opposing CAA (in India they shed tears in gallons for the ‘Minorities’, but when it comes to minorities of Islamic Countries, their eyes are as barren as the Sahara and Gobi deserts) and their lack of logic (which is congenital to any Marxist and eugenic in a distorted sense, to their diluted cousins and benefactors).
The study of demography of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh (independently and in comparison with India) demonstrates that the percentage of minority communities have shrunk dramatically and unnaturally in the past seven decades (at the time of Independence, 24% of Pakistan was non-Muslim and today it is less than 4%; prior to 1992, the Hindu population in Afghanistan was more than 50,000, but now the combined strength of Sikhs and Hindus in Afghanistan is only 4,000; Hindu population in Bangladesh (then East Bengal) was 31% during 1947, 20% in 1971 and now about 8.5% ). Whereas, the rate of growth of Muslim population and also the percentage of Muslim population in relation to the total population have increased in India in the corresponding period (Muslim population in India in 1951 was 9.9% and in 2011 it was 14.2%. Any community which is persecuted / treated in a step-motherly fashion shrinks and any community which is given fair opportunity thrives (as in India with the Hindu population – Hindus were 84.1% in 1951, which came down to 79.9% in 2011). It doesn’t need rocket science to understand this. It is as evident as the Sun on a summer day.
The real question should be: why did it took so long for India to shoulder this Dharmic responsibility towards its forgotten children? The answer to this is also not very elusive. The blame for this self-generated amnesia rests squarely on the doorsteps of Nehru and his progeny (both by blood and ideology). To even whisper anything against the systematic genocide of Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh was anathema to the Congress regimes. The Congress, then and even now (as can be seen from its vehement opposition to the CAA) considers speaking about these atrocities as hurting ‘Muslims’. Propaganda is being created that the CAA discriminates against the ‘Muslims’. It has to be put emphatically that this is utterly false and solely aimed at creating fear psychosis among the Muslims of India, to reap the benefit of their fear for political gains. Why should the Muslims of India feel discriminated if persecuted minorities of neighbouring countries are sheltered here? And, why should Muslims outside India have any problem with India sheltering persecuted persons? Going by the logic of the opponents, it has to be concluded that if persecuted communities are sheltered then Muslims feel bad. If this is really so, then there has to be a whole new debate as to why are they feeling so? Have they done anything that they are feeling so touchy about it or is there anything in their creed for such intolerance? If they don’t feel so, then why are the opponents shouting in such shrill voice?
By bringing in the CAA, India is showing signs of waking up from its 1,000 years’ forced slumber. It is once again taking baby steps in the path of Dharma. The Dharma of giving ‘Abhaya’ to the persecuted, the Dharma as practiced by Rama towards Vibhishana and Sugriva; the ‘Abhaya’ given by Pandavas to even their arch enemy Duryodhana when he was rescued from the Gandharvas; the ‘Abhaya’ given by Shibi Chakravarthi to the pigeon which came desperately seeking shelter at the cost of his own survival; the ‘Abhaya’ given to the sacred Cow by Dileepa and Vasishta; the ‘Abhaya’ given by Gautama Buddha to the World after attaining enlightenment; the ‘Abhaya’ given to the Magadha populace by Chanakya; the ‘Abhaya’ given to Dhruvadevi by Chandragupta Vikramaditya; the ‘Abhaya’ given to the Jew and the Parsi communities by Dharmic Rulers of Bharat. The dreams of our freedom fighters to put our Motherland to her rightful place is being slowly, but surely, realized. The real spirit of Bharat’s Constitution is being realized. Let us rejoice, for this is real SWARAJ.
(The author is a practising Advocate)