India for Indians. How did that become so controversial when discussing NRC?
Recently, BJP President Amit Shah set the proverbial cat among the pigeons by promising that if voted to power, the BJP government would send every illegal immigrant (except Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists) out of the borders of our country.
Wait, that’s the wrong analogy. This is not about setting the cat among the pigeons. The National Register of Citizens is about the pigeons hoping to keep the cats away from their nest. Otherwise, there will only be cats left and no pigeons. Get it?
Indian ‘liberals’ have jumped in to compare such measures to the Holocaust, to apartheid and what not. Their case is based on both a denial of well established Indian history and Hinduphobia.
The Partition of India happened in 1947. The Partition was based on religion and was done with the explicit purpose of carving out a separate Muslim homeland. Those Muslims who wished to move to this separate homeland did so in 1947. They named the new country ‘Pakistan’ or land of the pure, presumably to distinguish itself from the ‘impure’ Hindus of India. Literally lakhs of Hindus were forcibly expelled from Pakistan to make space for the ‘pure’. Of course, any Indian of any faith was most welcome to stay back here in our secular state.
That was 1947. We Hindus had to take refuge in the only country that would allow us to live.
That’s history and it cannot be changed now. The deal was made. You keep your side and we keep ours.
Some seventy years later, if the lands of the ‘pure’ have not been successful in developing economic opportunities nor upgrading to the twenty-first century, then it is not really our economic burden to bear, is it? We wish them well, we wish to trade peacefully with them. But if they cannot build their nation, it is not our job to pay for them, is it?
We owe them nothing. Zero. We are happy to give them our best wishes, but nothing more.
We are the victims of Partition, not Pakistan or Bangladesh. How can it be our duty to bear the economic burden of our tormentors?
No, there is no comparison here to Nazism or apartheid. Jewish people faced persecution in Europe for centuries. Black people numerous injustices in South Africa. Nazism or apartheid was about reinforcing these injustices and making them even more severe.
The NRC is about making sure that we the victims of Partition get to keep whatever little of India we were still left with post 1947 after the oppressors had grabbed as much as they could.
Asking India to accommodate Muslim illegal immigrants from Bangladesh would be like asking Israel to pay an annual tribute to Germany. Or asking India to pay reparations to Britain. Or asking some African country to pay reparations to its former colonial oppressor in Europe. Or putting an extra tax on African Americans and using the money to pay for building ‘white only’ neighbourhoods in America. It would be the exact opposite of justice.
‘Liberals’ ask why only send Muslim illegal immigrants back? How can the law ‘discriminate’ on the basis of religion?
Well, that’s because the intent is to make reparations for a targeted injustice that was committed only against Hindus (and Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, etc). Only the victims will get reparations. How could it be otherwise?
You tell me, liberals. Suppose there is a terrible fire in a cinema hall somewhere and a lot of people die because the theatre owner did not take adequate safety measures. Who should get the compensation? The families of the victims or every single Indian citizen irrespective of whether they suffered any losses in the fire? Of course, the compensation is paid only to the families of the victims and nobody else. That’s not discrimination. That’s just common sense.
Today a Hindu, a Buddhist or a Sikh trapped on the wrong side of the border is a victim of Partition done on the basis of religion in 1947. Naturally, we owe any such person our sympathy, protection, a warm welcome and Indian citizenship.
A Muslim who infiltrates across the border from Bangladesh is simply an economic migrant. We should only offer them compassion, best wishes for a pleasant journey back to Bangladesh as well as best wishes for a happy prosperous life in their home country. Beyond that nothing. Certainly nothing in economic terms.
Let me remind you that India still has the world’s second largest population of poor people. This is not the time for charity. The only thing we can fulfil is our obligations. And we have an obligation to protect any Hindu, Sikh or Buddhist victim of Partition, who may be stuck today in Pakistan or Bangladesh.
Here is another reason in the Indian context why ‘liberals’ who object to special treatment for Hindus are acting in obvious bad faith. Because provisions giving explicit privileges to disadvantaged groups is baked into the definition of ‘Right to Equality’ as per the Indian Constitution.
The Indian state is not supposed to discriminate on the basis of gender, caste, religion, etc. This has *always* been interpreted to mean that the state will make special provisions for addressing specific problems of disadvantaged groups. That is why we have a Minority Affairs Ministry, which gives special scholarships and loans to members of minority religions. Our laws on rape and sexual harassment are clearly not gender neutral. The Women’s Reservation Bill, which enjoys widespread support across the political spectrum, if passed, would literally bar men from representing their local area in Parliament across 1/3rd of the entire country! We already have Parliamentary and Assembly constituencies that are reserved for backward castes and for tribals. And of course, we have reservations for certain groups in government jobs and government colleges.
These special privileges have *never* been interpreted in Indian law as violations of the Right to Equality under Article 14. In fact, such privileges for disadvantaged groups have always been seen as tools for achieving the goals of equality and justice.
It is only natural, therefore, that when crafting an asylum policy, Indian law would give special privileges to Hindus, who are marginalized and persecuted in the Islamic Republics that around us.
How did this well-established principle in Indian law suddenly become controversial when it came to asylum law? I know why. Because this time it was Hindus as a group who received a benefit. And the Hindu hating Indian liberal cannot tolerate that. It would mean acknowledging the fact that Hindus were the victims of Partition and that Hindus have human rights too. To the liberal who has made a living out of telling the West that Hindus are sinister and evil, with their sarees, rasam, holy cows and Hanuman shirts, this would be a career destroying move.
The protection of Hindus who are persecuted in Pakistan and Bangladesh is a fundamental obligation that the Indian state cannot shy away from. Of course, in doing so, the Indian state should be careful to make sure that the burden does not fall unduly on the states in the North East. What we need is a systematic plan to make sure of the following:
(1) To secure the borders and ensure zero illegal infiltration of economic migrants.
(2) To provide a legal framework for granting asylum and a quick path to Indian citizenship for Hindu, Sikh, Jain and Buddhist refugees from Pakistan or Bangladesh.
(3) To resettle such refugees across the country in such a way that no particular state has to take too much of a burden.
(4) To identify illegal economic migrants by means of NRC and other initiatives and cut them and their children off immediately from all of the following:
(a) Any form of government welfare,
(c) Holding bank accounts, gas, electricity, water or phone connections,
(d) Admission in schools, colleges whether public or private
(e) Working whether in government or private sector
(f) Securing government documents and permits such as birth certificates, school certificates, Aadhar cards, PAN cards and drivers licenses.
(5) Eventually, deport all illegal migrants.
Can India get its act together before there is no India left? We’ll see.