18th December 2019 : The Hindu Editorials Notes: Mains Sure Shot
Note – citizenship amendment act 2019 has already been covered. This is model analysis of how a topic should be analysed.
- India is a secular country unlike some of its neighbours.
- But the CAA seems to pose a challenge to it.
- It is primarily because of three reasons – 1. It is against the letter and spirit of the constitution 2. It is divisive, deeply discriminatory and violative of human rights and 3. It seems to impose the politics and philosophy of hindutva with its vision of a “hindu nation”.
First , Why against the letter and the spirit of the constitution ?
- It is in contradiction with the idea of the common citizenship
- Article 5-11 of the constitution deals with citizenship and the citizenship act,1955 lays down criteria for citizenship based on birth, descent, registration, naturalisation, and citizenship by incorporation of territory. By setting new criteria, the Citizenship (Amendment) Act goes against the premise of common citizenship regardless of differences of caste, creed, gender, ethnicity and culture.
- Article 14 of the Constitution lays down that the “State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India”. It bears emphasis that Article 14 applies not only to citizens but to “all persons within the territory of India”.
- It also causes against the spirit of the constitution because even though the constitution is the result of the rich debates of the constituent assembly, it is often not recognised that it was the heroism of millions of unsung freedom fighters that made our Constitution a reality.
- These men and women, who came from the working class, peasantry, and socially marginalised groups — whatever their religious persuasion — challenged the colonial authorities in their struggle for human rights and economic justice. This struggle had broader aims than the overthrow of colonial rule. These torchbearers of modern Indian history played a crucial role in creating the demand for social justice, and a Constitution with democratic and secular values in a society in which discrimination and inequality were deeply ingrained.
Second,Why violation of human rights ?
- our national unity was won through struggle; Our hard-won Constitution recognises individual and social differences, and that we must weave the cord of unity by creating a sense of belonging and inclusiveness for all.
- The CAA gives eligibility for citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan who entered India on or before December 31, 2014, and specifically excludes Muslims from that list. In granting citizenship on the basis of religion, it discriminates against Muslims and rejects the basic concept of secularism.
- Hence it seems to create and deepen communal division and social polarization in the country.
Third, Why it seems to impose politics of hindutva ?
- It is because it grants citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan who entered India on or before December 31, 2014, and specifically excludes Muslims from that list. In granting citizenship on the basis of religion, it discriminates against Muslims and rejects the basic concept of secularism.
Looking back :
- Our freedom fighters were also conscious that theirs was a struggle for a society free of caste and religious deprivation and discrimination, and free of the deep social and economic inequalities that characterise Indian society.
- This aspiration was also reflected in the resolution of the Karachi session of the Indian National Congress in 1931, held after the execution of Bhagat Singh and his comrades. Confronted by the radical mass upsurge of the time, the Congress passed resolutions on the freedom of speech, press, freedom of assembly, freedom of association, and equality before the law.
- So, it is imperative that we uphold the values and ideas they fought for.
- Also looking back students had played an active role during the anti-colonial struggle to reject the attempts to divide india along religious lines. Even now the young citizens of India have come together to denounce this Act as discriminatory and violative of human rights.
Way forward :
- The people need to be made aware about the letter and spirit of the constitution. Also the judiciary should play an active role as the guardian of the constitution.
Question – Analyse the Rohingya issue and suggest the way ahead.
- Context – The row over Citizenship Act and the uncertainty of the Rohingyas.
- The entire Rohingya refugee crisis is based on the issue of the origin of the Rohingyas.
- The historical accounts state that the origin of the Rohingyas in Myanmar was in the 15th century BC when thousands of Muslims came to the former Arakan Kingdom (present Rakhine state in Myanmar), many also came in the 19th and 20th century in Rakhine area when it was under colonial rule as a part of British India.
- They were brought from adjoining areas to work as workers and slaves. On the other hand the Myanmar government does not accept that the Rohingyas have been living in Myanmar for centuries. They have refuted the Rohingyas historical claim and denied them recognition as one of the country’s 135 ethnic groups.
- So while the Rohinyas see themselves as Muslims natives of the former Arakan state (Rakhine) state, the Myanmar government sees them as Bengali Muslims from Bangladesh who migrated to Myanmar during the colonial period.
- The net result of these two different versions is that the legal status of the Rohingyas in Myanmar is very uncertain. According to the Burmese Citizenship Law, 1982, a Rohingya or any ethnic group is eligible for citizenship only if he/she provides proof that his or her ancestors have lived in the country prior to 1853. Else they are classified as “resident foreigners” or “associated citizens” (even if one of the parents is a Myanmar citizen). So this makes the lives of the Rohingyas very miserable. They are denied citizenship so they remain stateless and are subject to various policies which discriminate against these ethnic groups through restrictions on marriage,family planning, freedom of movement etc. For example a Rohingya has to seek permission from the State authorities and provide photographs of the bride without a head scarf which at times is in conflict with their religious customs. There is also a restriction on their free movement from one region to the other. They live in the Rakhine state which is the least developed states
- Myanmar with a poverty rate of 78 percent,lack of infrastructure, employment opportunities, health benefits or education. So this is not the first time that they are fleeing Myanmar but it’s just that the trend has intensified from 2012 onwards.
- In 2012 an ethnic violence broke out in the Rakhine state when it was reported that some Rohingya men had raped a Muslim girl. In Oct 2016,there was another wave of violence between the Budhist groups and Rohingyas over a series of attacks on security posts along the Myanmar-Bangladesh border. And clashes started again when in Aug 2017, a militant group known as the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army(ARSA) claimed responsibility for the coordinated attacks on police and army in Myanmar in which more than a hundred people died. This has led to a Rohingya crisis which we are seeing presently.
Now coming to the question of security versus humanity: India’s dilemma
- India has entered into a Framework Agreement with the Government of Myanmar in 2008 as a part of which the seaport of Kolkata will be linked with the Sittwe seaport in Myanmar.Sittwe is located in the Rakhine region of Myanmar where majority of the Rohingya population is settled. So India has to see that stability is maintained in the region. But India also has its domestic concerns. When the Rohingyas started fleeing to the neighbouring countries more than 40000 of them entered India and have been staying here as illegal migrants. If the government gives refuge to these Rohingyas then they can pose a serious threat to the internal security of the nation as the Rohingya population is very vulnerable and can be easily radicalised. Some of them are suspected to have been radicalised already and few others have obtained Aadhar cards illegally and this only adds to the woes of the government. India itself is over populated and a further addition in the population would lead to an over burden on the resources like water and food. On the other hand if it refuses to give refuge to these people it will be against India’s established image. Out of the approximately 40000 refugees who have entered India only 14000 are registered with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees.
- Though India is not obliged to give them shelter as it is not a signatory to the United Nation Refugee Convention(UNRC),it is
- in India’s interest that stability is maintained in the region and it has to act diplomatically on this front.