What is CAA/NRC
First of all, there is one thing to understand that many people who are questioning why people are opposing this law, because there is discernibly nothing in it which should be opposed. It only aims at providing special exemption to grant citizenship to non-Muslim refugees from countries with Muslim majority like Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, persecuted on religious grounds. And the law of granting citizenship is for everyone, which is intact in the old terms that is, if a Muslim refugee also wants citizenship, he can apply through the normal route.
It is broadly correct and the truth of the protest is that people are not opposing it alone but are opposing the combined form of it with NRC that was explained by the Home Minister. If you wonder why opposition to NRC is right now? No draft of it has been made yet, then you will have to understand that it is already there as a model in Assam and whether it is implemented now or after five-ten years, this process will be the same except the cutoff date. So in this retrenchment, apply CAA to those who are excluded in it now… you will understand its discriminative structure.
The condition is that you should understand that all the people who were excluded in the process were really intruders, is not correct. Here everything depends on the papers given to prove citizenship and discrepancies in the papers are common in this big country. The process of making any paper for such a large population will remain flawed. Even in this modern era, you can find a lot of errors in the voter IDs and Aadhaar cards made with the help of a computer. You can easily guess the accuracy of old papers.
Dangerous side effects of NRC
In a crisis-ridden economy, it is not wise to engage the entire machinery in an almost dispensable process (because the government has many resources to investigate those suspected of being illegal intruders. What is the need to ask the entire population to prove citizenship for that?). Secondly, where will the government struggling with the expenses arrange the funds for NRC? And it is not only about NRC. Thousands of detention centres will be required to keep people there after getting excluded in this process for which a budget of billions will be needed…
Thirdly it is clearly inviting a rebellion by stalling the productivity of a country struggling with drowning business and rising unemployment by making the people stand in ques for months or years. In view of these problems, a practical approach says that any sensible government will not take such fatal step, but considering the previous records of the government, let’s assume that this government takes this step without caring about the consequences then what will be the result?
The government can give the concession to suppress the rising dissatisfaction by saying that no one will be sent to the detention centre. Only the illegal intruders will be identified and the facilities provided by government will be taken back from them. Government facilities such as right to vote, subsidy, an exemption in any scheme or institute provided by the government. The government might include some different sub-sections for police cases and legal procedures for them that are there for categorised doubtful citizens.
Now the process… Any documents of any cutoff are asked. Assume that due to paper errors, half the population will stand helpless in front of babus who are allowed to make decisions based on their discretion in case of discrepancies. And if you look at the structure of government organisations you will understand that most of these babus will be from upper casts and those few who are from backward or other minority classes, their role will be limited. In this large decisive group, most will be surrounded by the mentality of caste or religious discrimination. It is not difficult for them to put SC-STs, minorities, OBCs, tribals into ‘D category’ in the name of errors.
Take the Assam model… the family of the former president, former chief minister or even those who have worked in the army were excluded in the process of NRC. Do you think that they would not have presented papers? The same model will be applied to pan India. They may give chance to rectify the errors, but how many long lines will be there for it do you have any idea? Try to modify your voter ID or Aadhaar card and see yourself.
After the process is over, when one-third or half of India will become a citizen of D-category, then the CAA will justify itself. Here its discriminative structure will be revealed that Muslims will not be eligible to apply and the rest who are eligible will also write themselves and admit that they are migrants and they want citizenship of India. A question also arises here that the base of CAA is religious persecution then how will they prove that they were oppressed in any of the listed countries?
Those countries will never issue any such certificate. More than that, the question is, how will people living in India for generations prove that they are citizens of Pakistan, Afghanistan or Bangladesh? Here, we have to admit that the evident form of CAA is just a trick and no credentials will be required for any such claim, rather the affidavit of the applicant will suffice.
Now think of the situation after this… Muslims will lose their rights after being put in D category, but even the rest who will get the citizenship, will get it as a migrant, then there is no condition that they too will get the equal rights like that of Indians by birth. For example, a Dalit can get a job in the government sector in the name of reservation, can get an exemption in education, but if a refugee Dalit or a refugee-turned-citizen Dalit can get the same facility… nothing is clear about this right now.
At present, see whether Dalits who get citizenship from CAA, are getting reservation or not because the first struggle will start from here. However, due to this retrenchment, the expenditure of the Government of India will be reduced considerably because government will be pressurized to make plans, subsidize, bear expenses for its citizens only and not for the non-citizens, secondly, those who will be declared valid will be the supporter of one party only and there will be no need for the government to worry about losing elections for next fifty years as a party.
The current target of CAA
The above things are just a possibility that may or may not happen, but its current target cannot be denied. The government has aimed at two targets under its pretext… First, diverting attention of people from the present situation and problems of the country by engaging them over such an issue which may go on for months.
Today the situation is that the economy has reached a critical stage, according to Transparency International, India is in the top countries in corruption. According to the Global Hunger Index, India is the country with the most malnourished children. India is constantly going down in the Democracy Index. The deficit of the government has reached a very low level. GDP is falling, the unemployment rate is at the worst level, NPA woes are rising.
Government companies are either drowning or being sold or those in the good condition are being mismanaged to handle the government expenses. A lot of challenges are standing in front of the government… This one step has given them such relief that people are talking on the CAA instead of talking on these issues and resistances like Shaheen Bagh are spreading across the country and it is a matter of great relief for the government.
Islamisation of the protest
The government had set another goal with this move. As this provision discriminates against Muslims (in the post-NRC situation), it was certain that the Muslims would oppose it and this protest would be propagated as either they are opposing citizenship to religiously persecuted Hindus from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, or they want their Rohingya community to get citizenship as well.
Due to which the common non-political Hindu will also become angry and stand with the government, which will have immediate benefits, as well as electoral benefits in the future… But suddenly people of all classes joined the protest. All the colleges and universities united to protest after the Jamia incident. There was a protest from the country to abroad, which failed their intention to give an Islamic identity to the protest.
But police violence against protest pushed the men back. Then the women had to come forward… First, it started with one Shaheen Bagh then gradually many Shaheen Baghs emerged in the country. Now it became relatively easy to play here. It is difficult to identify the men standing in opposition (other than those with religious identities) as to whether they are Muslims or not because except for a few with beards, kurta pyjamas and caps, Muslim men also look like other common men but women are different.
They have come out of the houses but there is a large number of homely women those can be identified by the burqa. However, in reality, these protests like Shaheen Bagh include women and men of all classes wherever possible but in media and social media, most of the photographs and videos of those women with burqas are being made viral with great precision and intelligence so that the protest can be given an Islamic face.
Interestingly, those liberals and seculars are also involved in it inadvertently those are protesting. At least those standing in protest should have made the statements, photos and videos of non-Muslim women and men viral to give the protest a secular identity. The Muslim women are getting coverage by the supporters of the government and media anyway. However, it is time for the government to smile.
The task which could not be achieved with men is being done successfully with women and they are being able to convert the protest into Islamic one. They know clearly where their voters are, what they see and what IQ they have?
Now an important point that why CAA was still needed when the law was already there. If it was just to give citizenship, then it was in the hands of the government, nobody was going to ask them in which time period it was granted and to the believer of which religion it was granted? In fact, the way in which thirteen-fourteen lac Hindus were excluded in Assam unexpectedly, was not good for the BJP voters, then how could they be brought into their support by giving citizenship in bulk and in short time?
It was an exercise for the same. Muslims had to be excluded otherwise they too could have taken the advantage of this law to be included and BJP was not expecting vote for them. However, the stone was one, but it was aimed at hitting many birds… Few targets seem being hit and few are still remaining even if the NRC happens or not.
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- Originally published at http://ashfaqansari.com on January 30, 2020.