Are you completely unaware of what Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) is? Then this article is for you.
The Citizenship Bill or Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019, is a proposed draft (the Bill) by Amit Shah, the minister of law affairs, regarding the situation of illegal migrants from Bangladesh, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. It provides the emigrants of all religious minorities, except Islam, to get citizenship of India. These religions include Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains, Parsis, and Christians According to the people who are protesting against it, it is an anti-national bill, as it excludes its provisions for Islam, thus, operating against the Constitution of India (which works beyond the chains of person’s religion; practicing secularism).
INDEX / NAVIGATE
Section-A (All about Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019)
- Introduction to the Article (About Allama Iqbal)
- Defining Citizenship, Amendment, Bill, and C-A-B (2019)
- All about Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019
- What’s up with the Northeast and Assam?
- How Assam became violent?
Src: Google News
“Better than the entire world is our Hind,
We are its nightingales, and it (is) our garden abode.
If we are in an alien place, the heart remains in the homeland,
Know us to be only there where our heart is.
That tallest mountain, that shade-sharer of the sky,
It (is) our sentry, it (is) our watchman.
In its lap where frolic thousands of rivers,
Whose vitality makes our garden the envy of Paradise.
O the flowing waters of the Ganges, do you remember that day
When our caravan first disembarked on your waterfront?
Religion does not teach us to bear animosity among ourselves
We are of Hind; our homeland is Hindustan.
In a world in which ancient Greece, Egypt, and Rome have all vanished
Our attributes (name and sign) live on today.
There is something about our existence for it doesn’t get wiped
Even though, for centuries, the time-cycle of the world has been our enemy.
Iqbal! We have no confidant in this world
What does anyone know of our hidden pain?”
Long forgotten by the youth of our current nation perhaps are the lines by Allama Iqbal (translate) from Sare Jahaan Se Accha or Tarānah-e-Hindi, translated in English as, Anthem of the People of Hindustan.
If you are thinking about “who the hell is Allama Iqbal now?”, then here’s a summarised biography for you:-
Born under cold skies of (November) 1877, Allama Iqbal was named (Sir) Muhammad Iqbal and eventually earned the highest respect in the history of India as a well-known poet, philosopher, politician, scholar, and lawyer of British India. Becoming the part of the All-India Muslim League during his college days in London, Iqbal addressed one of his most famous orations in the 1930 session of the League, popularly known as Allahabad Address. The speech focused on a reasonable demand for demarcating a Muslim state in the north-west of India. In clearing out his vision to Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Iqbal said in his letter of 21 June 1937,
“A separate federation of Muslim Provinces, reformed on the lines I have suggested above, is the only course by which we can secure a peaceful India and save Muslims from the domination of Non-Muslims. Why should not the Muslims of North-West India and Bengal be considered as nations entitled to self-determination just as other nations in India and outside India are…”
P.s.: Here, it may be legit to point out that by the phrase “nations in India”, Iqbal meant states in India only. (If we go for the literal definition of the word nation– there can be no nations ‘in’ India; its the limitation and beauty of language, which sometimes turn the words like nation synonymous to state).
So now as we have reached a point where one can again start to think and feel Indian (as an Indian), let’s before saying anything against the Citizenship Bill, first understand what it is, and why we should even care?
A. What is the Citizenship Amendment Bill or Act, 2019 (or CAB)?
Let’s break it down first and go word by word, to make it easier.
- Citizenship (or citizen):- When a human being legally becomes part of a particular nation (like Japan, China, or India), then he is called a citizen.
- Amendment:- When a particular law (usually in the constitution of a nation), is changed a bit here and there, to transform it according to the current times, then that change is called amendment.
- Bill:- Here, we are not talking about any regular receipt or invoice. In political terms, a bill is a proposed draft of some law presented in the parliament by an individual for further debate/discussion on it.
Now let’s define CAB—
A Bill related to the citizenship law/act of India presented in the parliament for the amendment.
Now some new questions must be boiling up inside your head. Good. Let’s try to answer them.
B. F-A-Q about the C-A-B
1. What is this citizenship law/act?
(There’s a long history of this, that is, the Citizenship Act of 1955, that you can explore after finishing this article. I’ll just be giving you an essence of it.)
In Part-II Articles of the Constitution of India is the Indian Nationality Law. In this law is written Citizenship Act, 1955, centered around the legislation concerning the emigrants of Pakistan after the partition of India in 1947.
Just as a fact, this Act has been introduced as a Bill many times history, including the Citizenship Amendment Acts of 1986, 1992, 2003, 2005, and 2015, and recently, in 2019.
2. What does the current Bill propose?
- It provides legal citizenship to the settlers of all religions except Islam, from the Muslim-dominant nations of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan.
- Illegal migrants only include those who have entered the borders of India after 31 December 2014.
- Relaxation on the eleven-year necessity for being a citizen of India by naturalization to five years but only for the before-mentioned religions and countries.
- The provisions of this Bill will not be enforced in some areas of North-East, including Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, some lands of Assam and Tripura, and almost whole of Meghalaya (primarily the tribal areas of these states).
- Lastly, it also introduces the cancellation of the registration of any OCI cardholders that may found infringing any law announced by the central government.
3. Who introduced such a biased Bill?
Amit Shah introduced this Bill on July 19 in the year 2016 in Lok Sabha.
4. Who is Amit Shah?
Amit Shah is an Indian politician. He is the president of the Bharatiya Janata Party since 2014 and the current minister of home affairs.
5. What’s the current status of this Bill?
Currently, the Bill is facing a lot of resistance and resentment from both India and the world, even though it officially got passed on 11 December 2019 and signed into a law by Ram Nath Kovind, as it is considered as Anti-National Bill.
C. Citizenship Amendment Bill Protests:- What’s up with Assam?
The Citizenship Amendment Bill 2019 has instilled anxiety in the Bengali Hindu immigrants from Bangladesh, terrorizing their cultural and linguistic identity.
Now, here is again an easy FAQ on this to answer your questions to some extent.
1. Who are Bengali Hindus?
They are residents of Bengal who adhere to Hinduism. During the partition year of 1947, Bengal was divided too into East and West Bengal, thus forming a region, which is now known to be as Bangladesh (earlier, East Pakistan). Thus, millions of Bengali Hindus moved and settled in India (from East Bengal) during the period.
2. In which parts the protest is happening?
After the revision of the Bill and exemption of tribal areas of North-East from the implementation of the provisions it provides, most of the sections of North-east have silenced, but the fierce protests are happening in Tripura and Assam (especially in Brahmaputra Valley).
3. Who is protesting, and why?
The artists, activists, and almost everyone are protesting in Assam as their identities are getting threatened.
4. How are they getting affected?
It is about the unimaginable shift in demographics, rather than this VS that!
Divided on the edges of religious, ethnic, and language, Assam is an extremely diverse and complex state. In Assam, splits are as following:– around 60 percent Hindus and rest Muslim on basis of religion, and around 13 percent tribal speakers (usually Bodos), and rest Bengali/Assamese speaker on the lines of language. The question is about what and what not is an “indigenous”, and here comes the term NRC, which is answered at the end of this particular question’s answer.
a. Census 2011
According to an article by Kaushik Deka on India Today,
“The linguistic data of the Census 2011 has widened the already existing fault lines between the Assamese and Bengalis (…) [as] the percentage of people speaking Assamese decreased from 58 percent in 1991 to 48 percent in 2011, while Bengali speakers in the state went up from 22 percent to 30 percent in the same period.”
b. The Miyah Poets
There’s a section of scholarly Muslims who have acquired smooth Bengali language in their accent in Assam, called today as Miyah, and have begun to write poetry in that dialect.
c. The Campaign by Garga Chatterjee
A campaign urging the Bengali-speaking population of Assam to write in Bengali only, launched by Professor and TMC Sympathiser, Garga Chatterjee, has further fueled the whole fear.
Thus, the Assamese are concerned that if Bengalis of both Hindu and Islamic religions come together, they can push the Assamese to margins.
Question- What is government (BJP) doing about this?
BJP is trying to make people of Assam understand that this Bill is only to protect the Hindu identity of Assam from the Bangladeshi-Muslims. Even if we consider their premises as correct, BJP has failed to account for the fears of people of Assam from the rising hegemony of Hindu Bengalis in the area.
(Section C, above, Src: India Today)
Question:- What is NRC and how it affects Assam, the whole of North-East, and Muslims?
National Register of Citizens initially began to be maintained by the Indian Government for Assam, but on November 20, 2019, Amit Shah announced that this would be applied to the entire nation. Assam became the first state for this process, based on one’s current descendants (whose names were registered in the first Census of 1955) and are still alive with a permanent address, within the state. Under NRC, certain tribal areas are protected under various laws like Inner Line Permit and Sixth Schedule. This has been implemented and left around 19 lakh people of Assam as unqualified for being a citizen of India. Now consider this to be applied in the whole of India!
Now, if the NRC process would take place in the tribal areas, many Bengalis (and other communities) would have to leave that area due to which they’ll enter and settle in the Brahmaputra Valley. And again, if the immigrants from Bangladesh, regardless of what religion they practice, if will enter Assam, will again threaten the indigenous face of the whole North-East. If you’ll go into the depth of this, and stats around the seven-sisters (Assam, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Manipur, and Tripura), you’ll realize that, the main issue due to the more immigrants settling in the NE, is that the whole demographics of the area will be shaken. Due to this, Assam, like other states, has also been asking for ILP, which will be again imposing a lot of unnecessary restrictions on the NE, which has finally begun to be in peace with the whole of India!
Also, interestingly enough, ILP was the idea of Britishers, who found the resources-rich land of the NE and implemented ILP, to protect their trade interests from native Indians. After independence, to protect the ethnic interests of the northeast people and steadily make them belonged to India, the ILP was modified and implemented further with certain provisions.
D. When Assam turned violent?
The recent update from Assam has shocked the whole of India.
The protests have taken a violent turn. MLA of Assam, Binod Hazarika’s house has been set afire by the protesters in Chabua (as of 12 December 2019, Thursday). The circle office is too set ablaze along with various vehicles. Police in return has initiated open-fired, in Lalung Gaon, Guwahati. Two protestors lost their lives in the police firing.
Who is Binod Hazarika?
He is a BJP Politician in Assam elected in 2016 in elections of Assam Legislative Assembly.
If we consider the most apparent conclusion through all this, then indeed, the Citizenship Bill is biased and the way it got passed by both the houses between 9 to 11 December, is highly skeptical. Moreover, everyone knows that it is not the first time that the BJP is trying to do something like this (that is, trying to turn India into a Hindu Nation), which further is fueled by their ignorance towards Assamese, but even the illegal migrants in the three nations of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan.
One of my friends highlighted this point very simply in front of me. These following are his thoughts which I’m just rewriting in my words:-
“As of now, India has decided to grant citizenship to the emigrants of the 6 religions (except Islam) from the 3 Muslim-dominant nations who are in minorities there, but now consider what they might be going through. Consider if the government of any of those three nations releases a similar kind of law for Muslims, what will people of majority religion act like, “ki dekho dekho Pak ne wafadari ka tohfa dia hai inko”. Similar must be happening there. The minorities might be tortured mentally and perhaps physically, as we cannot ignore the fact, how much can any human being fall when in hatred or anger. These minorities will completely lose their stand in front of them!”
It is apparent how minorities can be harmed in nations like India where although the enforced Constitution imbibes secularism, and places human beings above anything, trying to work beyond the manacles of discrimination, its ministers can’t help themselves but promote religious bias and confidently blabber against the nation, laws, and people.
The question here is also then, how India can literally support the minorities living in those three nations (including certain Muslim-groups as well, who desire to be in India)?
One possible way that I heard by the same friend whom I mentioned above was instead of granting the minorities citizenship directly (which is again a highly argumental act), India must try to talk to Bangladesh about the condition of minorities and at the same time build some pressure about the whole thing (for the rights of minorities in Pak, Bangla, and Afghanistan, and even in Myanmar about the condition of Rohingyas) to better the situation for everyone.
Here, I would also like to highlight the fact that, India is already an extremely populated nation, where most of its youths are unemployed, and people (no matter a student, worker, or resigned) suffer from almost everything, from the network issues to high-rates of domestic violence, rapes, and pollution. If we go with the Intelligence Bureau record, the immediate beneficiaries of the Bill will be around 30,000.
Thus, making the whole thing even more dangerous.
Moreover, one must foresee the possible propaganda that the current government can make against the Constitution of India if there this amendment is already in force, and half of the Indian population is still so unaware of the whole thing!