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Day 20 – Q 3. How justified it is to view the issue of Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) from the communal prism? Substantiate your views. 

  • IASbaba
  • July 2, 2020
  • 0
GS 3, Sci & Technology, TLP-UPSC Mains Answer Writing
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3. How justified it is to view the issue of Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) from the communal prism? Substantiate your views. 

नागरिकता संशोधन अधिनियम (सीएए) के मुद्दे को सांप्रदायिकतावाद के नजरिये से देखना कितना न्यायसंगत है? अपने विचारों की पुष्टि करें।

Demand of the question:

It expects students to write whether it is justified to view Citizenship amendment act from the communal prism or not with substantial arguments. 

Introduction:

Democratic presidential nominee and former US vice president Joe Biden has expressed disappointment over the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the implementation of the NRC in Assam. It highlights misreading of India’s internal policy decisions at world stage and creates threat of damaging India’s soft power. 

Body:

The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 (CAA) enables migrants/foreigners of six minority communities from three specified countries who have come to India because of persecution on grounds of their religion to apply for Indian citizenship. It does not amend any existing legal provision which enables any foreigner of any class, creed, religion, category, etc to apply for Indian citizenship through registration or naturalization modes.  Such a foreigner has to become eligible to apply for citizenship after fulfilling the minimum legal requirements.

View of CAA-Citizenship Amendment Act through Communal prism:

  • Singling out of one particular religion:  Citizen Amendment act provisioned citizenship for non-Muslim persecuted illegal migrants from select Neighbourhood countries like Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
  • Fear of Nationwide NRC- National registration of citizen which might make many Indians stateless due insufficient documents or else. While, people of communities mentioned in CAA might become citizen again by CAA while Muslims who could not prove citizenship might be labelled as foreigner. CAA is not creating panic, fear or anxiety alone but its execution along with nationwide NRC- National register of Citizens.
  • Positive Secularism is basic feature of Indian constitution which is based on the equal treatment to all the religions from the state. Religious test to policy decisions makes it discriminatory at face value.  
  • Continued demonization of Bangladeshi citizens and Indian politician’s repeated vows to send back people left out of NRC to their respected countries pointed towards Bangladesh makes it easier for scholars to call it communal.
  • The Afghans, too, have been displeased by the fact that the CAA portrays them as a country where minorities face discrimination and persecution. 

Inappropriate to see through communal prism:

  • The CAA does not apply to Indian citizens. They are completely unaffected by it.  It seeks to grant Indian citizenship to particular foreigners who have suffered persecution on grounds of their religion in three neighbouring countries.
  • During the last six years, approximately 2830 Pakistani citizens, 912 Afghani citizens, and 172 Bangladeshi citizens have been given Indian citizenship. Hundreds of them are from the majority community of these three countries.  Such migrants continue to get Indian citizenship and shall also continue to get it if they fulfill the eligibility conditions already provided in the law for registration or naturalization.  About 14,864 Bangladeshi nationals were also granted Indian citizenship after incorporating more than fifty enclaves of Bangladesh into Indian territory post the boundary agreement between the two countries in 2014.
  • It was cleared by a 30-member Parliamentary Committee consisting of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha members after due process.
  • It seeks to accommodate minorities who face religious persecution in their own nations (three specific neighbours, not the entire world) and have been forced to seek shelter in India to preserve their faith.
  • By amending the appropriate rules during 2015-16 the Govt. of India had already legalized entry as well as the stay of such foreign migrants belonging to six minority communities from these three countries who had come into India up to December 2014 because of persecution on grounds of religion. The Government of India had made such migrants also eligible for grant of Long Term Visa (LTV) to stay in India for a long time.  The CAA now enables them to take Indian citizenship if they fulfill conditions/qualifications for such citizenship provided they migrated from these three countries before 31st December 2014.
  • On different occasions, special provisions have been made by Govt. of India in the past also to accommodate the concerns of stay and citizenship of foreigners of Indian origin who had to flee to India. For example, Article 6 of The Constitution of India provides that a person who has migrated to India from Pakistan before 19th July 1948 shall be deemed to be an Indian citizen.  Secondly, even if he has migrated on or after this date he was registered as an Indian citizen after staying for only six months in India.
  • The CAA does not target any religious community from abroad. It only provides a mechanism for some migrants who may otherwise have been called “illegal” depriving them of the opportunity to apply for Indian citizenship provided they meet certain conditions.  
  • The Central Government will frame rules to operationalize the provisions of the CAA.   No migrant from these communities will become an Indian Citizen automatically.  He will have to apply online and the competent authority would see whether he fulfills all the qualifications for registration or naturalization as an Indian citizen.
  • The CAA protects the interests of the tribals and indigenous people of the North-Eastern region by excluding areas under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution and areas covered by the Inner line Permit system. Such migrants living in these areas will not be able to apply for Indian citizens.  So, there is no question of any influx of foreigners swamping the indigenous population.  The CAA provides a cut-off date of 31st December 2014.  Such migrants are therefore already in India for the last several years.
  • It is worth noting that the CAA does not prevent Muslims from applying from Indian citizenship. Muslims facing religious persecution in their own nations may still apply for naturalized citizenship and their cases may be considered.
  • It opts for positive discrimination hence may not violate Article 14 of the constitution. It has provided benefits of protection of tribal culture to the Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Mizoram and Manipur to be added soon in Inner line permit and schedule six areas to restrict flow of illegal migrants who newly acquired citizenship.

India always maintained that nobody should interfere in internal matters of sovereign nation and Bangladesh seems to have accepted that. Majority of Arab nations maintained restraint from commenting on CAA or NRC. External Affairs minister being career diplomat along with various diplomatic missions of India explained stand of India to major powers of the world and neighbourhood repeatedly.

Conclusion:

India being a great nation has both civilizational duties along with pragmatic national security imperatives. There should not be violation of constitutional principles in deciding the fate of citizenship. State cannot simply give up humanitarian approach to deal with persecuted communities. There should be right balance between national security and humanitarian approach to deal with the complex society like India.

 

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