The Indian Express
Pratap Bhanu Mehta
– Dec 11, 10:26 AM
The Citizenship Amendment Bill uses a legal instrument to send an insidious political message: Religious identity will play a dominant role in assessing claims to citizenship. Muslims will be increasingly marginalised from our conceptions of…
The Financial Times
The editorial board
– Dec 11, 10:15 AM
After independence and partition in 1947, India was established on the principle of secular democracy. While Pakistan's founders defined their country as a homeland for the subcontinent's Muslims, India — though Hindu-majority — was…
arvindmahajanAfter independence and partition in 1947, India was established on the principle of secular democracy. While Pakistan’s founders defined their country as a homeland for the subcontinent’s Muslims, India — though Hindu-majority — was not defined by religion but envisaged as a country where diverse faiths could coexist. Now, the so-called Citizenship Amendment Bill — which grants accelerated citizenship to Hindu, Sikh, Jain or Buddhist refugees from neighbouring countries, but not Muslims — threatens that history of secularism. It is a milestone in premier Narendra Modi’s campaign to reshape India into an overtly Hindu nation.
The bill passed by India’s parliament late on Wednesday amends a current law that prevents illegal migrants, or their children, from becoming citizens. Mr Modi’s Bharatiya Janata party defends the change as guaranteeing protection for followers of south Asia’s major religions who fled persecution in India’s three neighbours of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan up to 2014. Supporters say it recalls initiatives in past decades when there were large influxes of religious minorities. The right to fast-track citizenship that it grants is not extended to Muslim migrants since those neighbours are Islamic countries.
The right is given to Christians — which cynics might suggest is aimed at fending off US criticism — but not Jews, or atheists. The act also ignores members of Muslim sects who do face discrimination in the three neighbouring countries, and Muslim refugees from elsewhere, such as Rohingyas from Myanmar and Uighurs from China. As such, it rekindles the two-nation theory — the idea of a Muslim Pakistan and Hindu India — that was rejected by the independence leader Mahatma Gandhi and India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru.
The new measure cannot be seen in isolation, moreover, from plans to create a National Register of Citizens across India. This aims to identify what the BJP government claims are huge numbers of illegal migrants who have entered India in past decades, particularly from Bangladesh. A pilot project in Assam has already excluded 1.9m of the state’s 33m residents who did not have the necessary documents to prove their rights to citizenship. Those left off the register — many of them Muslim — risk being rendered stateless.
Tens of millions of Indians still have no documentation; as late as 2005-2006, only 40 per cent obtained birth certificates and even now only 80 per cent of babies are registered at birth. Replicating the Assam process nationwide could leave huge numbers off the register. The citizenship amendment law, however, would provide a path to citizenship for followers of “Indic” religions — but not Muslims. Amit Shah, the home minister, has repeatedly pledged to introduce an NRC across the country. He has also pledged that illegal migrants will be deported before India’s 2024 parliamentary election.
India’s courts might yet strike down the amendment as unconstitutional. Judicial challenges are likely to take years, however, by which time severe damage might already have been done.
If Mr Modi’s government is serious about protecting immigrants, it should sign the UN’s 1951 Refugee Convention — which asserts refugees should not be returned to a country where they face serious threats to life or freedom, but to which India is not a party. If India wants to preserve its moral claim to influence as the world’s largest democracy, moreover, it should avoid going down a path that could demote millions of long-term residents to second-class status — or
By Kerry Flynn, CNN Business
– Dec 11, 4:47 AM
New York(CNN Business) Time magazine has chosen Greta Thunberg, a Swedish climate crisis activist, as person of the year. Each year, the magazine features the most influential person, group, movement or idea of the previous 12 months. Last year, it…
The New York Times
– Dec 10, 11:53 AM
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By Jordan Valinsky, CNN Business
– Dec 11, 8:55 AM
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Live History India
– Dec 6, 7:31 PM
As the winter smog settles across North India, and Kolkata and Delhi compete for the title of ‘most polluted city in India', hold your breath just a little longer as you read this – Calcutta was the very first city in India, and only…