Ever since the 2014 elections, India has experienced a sea change not just attitudinally, but also in terms of the policy. One of the policy decisions that aims to right a historic wrong is the Citizenship Amendment Bill. In 2016, the Modi government tabled the Citizenship Amendment Bill that aimed to cleanse the country of illegal immigration. The Bill, introduced in the Lok Sabha on July 15, 2016, seeks to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955 to provide citizenship to illegal migrants, from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, who are of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi or Christian extraction.
The acceptability of the propositions furthered by the Citizenship Amendment Bill was split in the middle. As is India’s wont, the ideological divide was as stark as a bright sunny summer morning. The Left opposed the provisions tooth and nail. The ‘idea of India’ that has long been touted as the existential foundation of India had been shaken, as per them, with one swift motion.
The Left has long espoused the principle that India is an all-giving, all-embracing entity, especially when it comes to Muslims. Whether this special corner of the heart that bleeds only for Muslims is a result of political compulsions, the Gandhian dystopia or the engrained false persecution complex is unclear. Perhaps it is a culmination of all of the above.
Either way, while the Left detested the idea of law finally being honest enough to give citizenship to persecuted minorities from neighbouring Islamic nations, the non-Left rejoiced the decision as one that rights a historic wrong.
The foundation for the citizenship amendment bill is rather simple – India is a natural home for persecuted Hindus, Buddhists and Jains from neighbouring Islamic countries. Essentially, all people belonging to non-Islamic religions should see India as their natural home.
The objection that the Left raised was rather a simple (and expected) one as well – why are Muslims being left out when all others are being given the chance to become Indian citizens.
An example of the outrage that is expressed by the Left is journalist Rajdeep Sardesai voicing his concerns during an interview with website Lallantop. An incensed Rajdeep spoke at length about how we are moving towards Jinnah’s India and how the Citizenship Amendment Bill should have a human element in it. He also spoke about how the Hindu refugees in India are political refugees and not those persecuted on religious lines.
Before we go into the details of Rajdeep’s assertion that Hindu refugees are merely economic refugees and not ones borne out of religious persecution, it becomes essential to examine why the Citizenship Amendment Bill is bang on target and why India has to be considered the naturalised home for persecuted Hindus.
Dominant religions of the world
According to theregistere.co.uk, nearly 75% of the world’s population practices one of the five most influential religions of the world: Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism. To quote from the report, “Christianity and Islam are the two religions most widely spread across the world. These two religions together cover the religious affiliation of more than half of the world’s population”.
if one sees the world map at a glance, the dominant religions, country-wise, draws a rather obvious picture.
The interactive map by PBS visually displays the countries of the world and the dominant religions in those countries. While the extent of the spread of Christianity is evident by the ocean of purple, Hinduism and Islam deserve a closer look.
The interactive map can be used to see the spread of Hinduism and Islam.
From the map, one can see that there are only 2 countries in the world that have a Hindu majority population today. India and Nepal. There is not one country where the Hindu population is between 40% to 70% and most other countries where there is a remote presence of Hinduism ranges between 1% and 10% of the population.
In India’s neighbouring countries, Pakistan, according to this map, has a Hindu population of 1.9%, which some may believe is an exaggerated number in itself, Bangladesh has a Hindu population of 9.1%, Myanmar of 1.7% and Bhutan of 22.6%.
Above is the map that visually displays the number of Islamic countries or countries with a Muslim majority in the world.
According to the Pew Research Center in 2015, there were 50 Muslim-majority countries. Worldatlas.com (April 2017) identified 45 ‘Islamic countries’.
Among the Islamic states are Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Mauritania, Oman, and Yemen. Other states where Islam is the politically defined state religion are Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Kuwait, Algeria, Malaysia, Maldives, Morocco, Libya, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Somalia and Brunei. Other Muslim-majority countries include: Niger, Indonesia, Sudan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sierra Leone, Djibouti, Albania, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Chad, The Gambia, Guinea, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Mali, Northern Cyprus, Nigeria, Senegal, Syria, Lebanon, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Turkey and Uzbekistan.
According to a 2010 study and released in January 2011, Jones (2005) defines a “large minority” as being between 30% and 50%, which described nine countries in 2000, namely Bosnia and Herzegovina, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Kazakhstan, Macedonia, Nigeria, and Tanzania. Islam has 1.5 billion adherents, making up c. 22% of the world population.
The argument about India being a naturalised home for Hindus stems first and foremost from the demography of the world. As is evident, India and Nepal are the only two countries in the world where Hindus are the majority population. With Nepal being a rather small country, the onus to be the naturalised home for Hindus falls on India, and rightly so.
With 50 Muslims Majority countries and the entire world painted purple as is evident from the world demography map shared, there is no other country in the world that can be called their own other than India.
India a ‘secular’ state?
The obvious counter to this argument by the Left is that India is a ‘secular’ nation with no state religion. The concept of ‘secular’ was inserted in the Constitution only at a much later date by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. It was after the 42nd Amendment of the Constitution of India in 1976 that the Preamble to the Constitution asserted that India is a secular country. It is thus fair to assume that the makers of the Constitution did not envisage India as a secular state, to begin with.
Moreover, even if accept that India is a ‘secular’ state by virtue of the 42nd amendment to the Indian Constitution, that would only mean that India does not have a State religion. As Pakistan is the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, India, is not a Hindu state where the state religion is Hinduism. For the purpose of the Citizenship Amendment Bill, that still does not take away from the fact that by virtue of demography, India will remain a naturalised home for persecuted Hindus.
It is often the wont of the Left that they tend to recognise the existence of India from the moment of its political freedom. They recognise the Indian State as having come into existence only after the political boundaries were drawn in 1947. However, Bharat exists for as long as civilisation has existed. The consciousness of Bharat does not exist from the moment political boundaries were drawn. The sacred land as described by our scriptures is India. This land is the mother of our entire existence. All our heroes, our greatest stories, our greatest accomplishments, our entire history basically, happened in this piece of land. India’s consciousness will, forever, remain Hindu.
While accepting the truth might be hard with the politically correct narrative of ‘secularism’ having diseased our discourse, the truth is that Islam as a religion was introduced in India through violent conquests and barbaric Islamic rulers who were alien to the nation. Does this mean Indian Muslims are not just as Indian as the Hindus? Certainly not. However, the very cultural and existential foundation of India has been and shall forever remain Hindu even if the Indian State has no State religion constitutionally speaking.
The Nehruvian Blunder
After the partition, which was squarely based on religious lines owing to the demands of Jinnah, widespread riots had broken out in India and the newly formed Pakistan. The non-Muslim citizenry who were in Pakistan started making their way to India and the Muslim citizens in India started making their way to Pakistan. The migration is well documented and proven.
In 1950, an accord was signed between Nehru and Liaquat Ali Khan where each side pledged to secure its minorities and give equality of citizenship regardless of religion. Both sides promised to help recover looted property, assist in the recovery of abducted women and not recognise conversions made during communal disturbances.
Essentially, Jawaharlal Nehru scuttled the de facto population exchange with the 1950 Accord. After the Accord was signed, Muslims, who had left West Bengal, returned and Nehru ensured that their property was restored to them. However, the travesties heaped on the Hindus continue to this day, unabated in Islamic Nations like Pakistan and Bangladesh.
Quoting a report from DailyPioneer:
Syama Prasad Mukherjee resigned from the Cabinet on April 1, 1950, in protest against Nehru’s failure to take Pakistan to task for the continued suffering of his people. At a Cabinet meeting the same day, Mukherjee said, “What do you care for us Bengali Hindus? What do you care for the criminal assaults on our women?” (Soundings in Modern South Asian History, ed. DA Low) Enraged at the renewed exodus of Hindus, which he viewed as deliberate, he suggested an exchange of populations, which Nehru rejected vehemently.
Nehru, in his communication to the then West Bengal Chief Minister, had further said (as quoted in the DailyPioneer report):
“I have been quite certain right from the beginning that everything should be done to prevent Hindus in east Bengal from migrating to West Bengal…I think the Hindu leaders of East Bengal, who have come away, have done no service to their people. If as you suggest things have gone too far already, then naturally, we shall all do what we can but I shudder at the prospect and the magnitude of the human misery that will come in its train. To the last, I shall try to check migration even if there is war”.
Jawaharlal Nehru was thus, quite vehemently against population exchange and was, in fact, willing to fight a war to ensure that persecuted Hindus are not allowed to migrate back to India.
While since the time of Nehru, Hindus were disallowed from migrating to their natural homeland, India, despite persecution, the influx of Muslim illegals continued un-checked. If today, the Citizenship Amendment Bill seeks to right that historic wrong that, in the name of ‘secularism’, sacrificed Hindus at the altar of Islamic Jihad, the Left must introspect why it is vehemently against the move in the very name of secularism.
One has to ask at this point, where else are Hindus supposed to go if not India.
The double standards of the Left
While the Left has vehemently opposed the Citizenship Amendment Bill in the name of secularism, in the very name of secularism have rallied behind Rohingya illegals and demanded that the Indian State accept the influx from Myanmar. The Left has demanded that on humanitarian ground, India should accept Rohingya Muslims as refugees in India. India has, in its part, repeatedly asserted that firstly, India has no legal obligation to accept international refugees and secondly, Rohingya Muslims pose a security threat to India.
It is thus intriguing that while the Left does not recognise India as the natural home for Hindus, the only country in the world apart from tiny Nepal that has a Hindu majority, it is insistent that India strain itself by accepting Muslim refugees who pose a security threat. Interestingly, even Saudi Arabia, the country which is considered to be the birthing place of Islam, has also deported hundreds of Rohingya Muslims from the country. Al Jazeera had reported that hundreds, who had outlived their visa had been put in detention camps and deported. The ones who resisted were handcuffed and deported. In fact, some who had lived there for their entire lives were also deported from the country when the police found that they did not have adequate documents.
This begs two important questions:
1. If the Left is so concerned about the dignity of Human Life as it claims to be, then how is it that they have a problem with India accepting Hindus, Sikhs and even Christians persecuted in neighbouring Islamic countries?
2. How is it that the Left heart beats only for Muslim refugees whom even the Islamic countries like Saudi Arabia are not accepting?
The ‘secular country’ bunkum that is furthered by the Left is used to browbeat India into accepting Muslim refugees when over 50 Islamic countries are not coming forth to help them. The narrative is also used to ensure that India forgets its Hindu consciousness thereby following Nehru’s path to abandon the Hindus who are regularly persecuted in Islamic Nations. As discussed earlier, the argument of ‘secular country’ can only be limited to the political Indian State not having a State religion, however, the argument can in no way be used to erase the Hindu foundation and consciousness of the country.
The fact of the matter is that Islamic Nations are violent towards ‘Kaafir religions’. It a fact that can no longer be glossed over with mere rhetoric. With India, being a large ‘Kaafir nation’ surrounded by Islamic nations that seek to annihilate it, one has to ask oneself honestly how well the ethos of ‘secularism’ will serve the interest of the nation.
For the purpose of this argument, I will club Jawaharlal Nehru with the Left as well. While he was vehemently against the Hindu population of East Bengal coming into West Bengal, he firstly did nothing to arrest the influx of Muslim illegals. Secondly, with the 1950 Accord, he scuttled the full exchange of population that could have taken care of the woes of India that it is diseased with today. This is not to say that Muslim citizens of India should ‘go to Pakistan’, an argument often used by the Left to show the non-Left as anti-Muslims. However, the fact does remain that a full transfer of population between India and Pakistan was the only logical step when a nation was carved out of India on the basis of Islam.
The Muslims who stayed back often like to cite that as an excuse to whitewash the crimes of the Muslim community in India. However, the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) is a testament to the fact that while several Muslims stayed back, the full population exchange was scuttled by Nehru and several of them are certainly loyal to India, the Ummah does reign supreme with a large section of Muslims.
Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), which claims to be born after Indian Independence in 1948, is actually an off-shoot of Pakistan founder and Islamist Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s All India Muslim League (AIML). The All India Muslim League was succeeded by the Muslim League in Pakistan and the Indian Union Muslim League in India. In its website, the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) claims that its motto is secularism and communal harmony but has often openly indulged in carrying out objectives which are contrary to its own motto.
The Muslim League had strongly advocated for the establishment of a separate Muslim-majority nation-state, Pakistan, which successfully led to the partition of British India in 1947 by the British Empire. The birth of Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) in December 1947 was part of that intention to keep the spirit of the All India Muslim League alive.
Muhammad Ismail, the first President of the Indian Union Muslim League after it split up from the Jinnah’s Muslim League, had actively participated in the partition movement of the country and was an ardent supporter of the creation of Pakistan. Interestingly, Muhammad Ismail, who claimed IUML was a secular outfit had, in fact, supported the retaining of Sharia law for Indian Muslims in the Constituent Assembly after India’s independence.
Thus, while a large section of the Muslim population in India still does advocate for Sharia and vehemently supports Pakistan owing to its Islamic foundation, Hindus have no home to truly call their own because of tenets of ‘secularism’. While a portion of the Muslim population still bats for Pakistan, Hindus have one land that they can call their own, that have them as the majority.
The fact remains that India’s foundation is Hindu and when that is acknowledged, it would in no way mean that Minorities don’t get their rights since a Hindu Nation would not function as an Islamic nation that has the concept of Kaafirs. In such a scenario, one has to concede that while the change from ‘secularism’ to ‘Hindu nation’ would take years if not decades, at least for the purpose of the Citizenship Amendment Bill, India is and always will be the natural home for all Hindus. Just like Israel is considered the natural home for Jews or any one of the 50 Islamic Nations should be considered the natural home for Muslims.
The arguments against India being the natural home for Hindus are mostly based on facetious arguments. That India is a ‘secular’ country, that it goes against the ethos of humanity and often, scriptures quoted out of context to assert that Hinduism itself talks about embracing everyone. Other arguments against the Citizenship Amendment Bill talk about why Ahmadiyyas, who are also persecuted in Islamic countries are not a part of the section of people who deserve asylum. The last argument has an explanation, albeit, a rather harsh one. Muslim Nations often persecute certain sections of the Muslim community because they claim that certain sects are not following the ‘true’ version of Islam. Hindus, cannot be held responsible for the internal troubles of the Muslim world. That is something that the Muslim world needs to reform to tackle all on its own.
India is the only land that has a Hindu majority. Hinduism, Sanatan, is engraved in its consciousness since before the political boundaries were drawn. Our stories, our heroes our legacy is attached to this land and no other. Hindus deserve a land they can come back to when the world seems too harsh, when their rights are denied and when they are persecuted because of their very identity.
Editor, OpIndia.com since October 2017