Ever since Prime Minister Modi returned back to power in 2019, certain western policy influencers and powerful establishments have put considerable efforts to discredit the nationalist government in the country.
In continuance with the trend, an international consulting group named ‘Eurasia Group’ has come up with its latest report in which it has named the Narendra Modi government as the fifth most ‘geopolitical risks’ in 2020.
A report titled “India gets Modi-fied” published by Eurasia Group has made vague claims stating that India’s perception around the globe has taken a hit since Prime Minister Narendra Modi prioritised Hindu nationalist policies over economic reform.
In the report, the authors – Ian Bremmer and Cliff Kupchan have made allegations that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has spent much of his second term on promoting controversial social policies at the expense of an economic agenda. The report went on to make assertions that the impact of such policies will be felt in 2020, with ‘intensified communal and sectarian instability’, as well as foreign policy and economic setbacks.
The report has not only made unverified claims regarding the historic act of abrogating Article 370, which granted special status temporarily for Jammu and Kashmir but also stated half-truths regarding the National Register of Citizens in Assam.
“They revoked the special status for Jammu and Kashmir and implemented a system to identify illegal immigrants in the northeast, stripping 1.9 million people of citizenship,” the report claimed. “Kashmir is a powder keg, with political leaders still under arrest and internet access cut off,” it noted further.
Targetting the Citizenship Amendment Act, which grants citizenship to the persecuted minorities belonging to six minority communities of the three neighbouring countries – Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, the report went on to spread misinformation stating that the Modi government passed a law that, for the first time, makes religion a criterion for migrants from neighbouring countries to formally acquire Indian citizenship. This is categorically untrue as the CAA only fast-tracks Indian citizenship of persecuted religious minorities from three neighbouring Islamic countries. As Government of India today clarified yet again, the legal Muslim immigrants can also be granted citizenship. The CAA is only applicable to persecuted religious minorities in three neighbouring Islamic countries: Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
Holding PM Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah responsible for the alleged ‘sectarian and religious conflicts’ in the country, the report claimed that protests have already spread around India as many citizens feard for the loss of India’s secular identity.
The report also said that the Modi government will not back down and as the government pursues its new agenda, state-level opposition leaders will directly challenge the central government.
The report further noted, “This focus on the social agenda will also have harmful effects for India’s foreign policy. Its actions on human rights will be under closer scrutiny by many nations, and its reputation will take a hit.”
The report points out the underperformance of the GST and the uncertainty on the fiscal deficit. “The country’s fiscal situation is precarious, as the government faces a ‘widening fiscal deficit’ marked by the underperformance of the goods and services tax,” the author says.
“A weakened economy will, in turn, feed further economic nationalism and protectionism, weighing on India’s troubled course in 2020”, it claimed.
Unsurprisingly, the report has too many factual inaccuracies.
Fact check on Eurasia Group’s claims on Kashmir:
The report stated that the decision to revoke Article 370 – a special status that was granted to Jammu and Kashmir as one of the potential reasons for the sectarian and religious conflicts in the country. The report also claimed that political leaders are still under arrest and internet access cut off. However, the claims are untrue.
It is important to note that the decision to revoke the special status of the Kashmir is an internal matter of the country. The democratically elected government of a sovereign country has every right to take any action that is aligned in the interest of the country.
Further, the Modi government has followed all the principles that are enshrined in the constitution to scrap the controversial special status that was blatantly discriminatory in nature. The controversial Article 370 was in fact responsible for the long age of violence and bloodshed in the valley.
Article 370 was a temporary provision that was part of the original constitution that India had adopted in 1950. This was part of Part XXI of the constitution, which is the Temporary and Transitional provisions. This means the article 370 was deemed to be a temporary provision from the beginning. Hence, the Eurasia group cannot lament over the fact that the Indian government removed one of the temporary provisions in the constitution.
Secondly, the report claims that the political leaders have been arrested and the internet has been cut-off in the region. The claims are untrue as not all political leaders have been arrested. The government of India has taken a few precautionary measures during the abrogation of Article 370 to detain a few controversial leaders, who have a history of stoking chaos in the valley. The restrictions on the internet were also temporary.
As the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir is at near-normal, the restrictions on internet and communications have been eased and most of the political leaders apart from a few influential leaders who could anarchy on the streets have been kept under government accommodation.
Eurasia’s untrue claims on Assam NRC:
The report also claims that the Modi government implemented a system to identify illegal immigrants in the northeast, stripping 1.9 million people of citizenship. However, this is an out-and-out lie being peddled by the so-called Eurasia Group without even comprehending the facts pertaining to the implementation of the National Register of Citizens in Assam.
The most basic fact of the matter that the report missed was the exercise of NRC in Assam was not done by the Modi government rather it was an exercise that was mandated by the Supreme Court. It is in fact the Congress government in 1985 under the leadership of Rajiv Gandhi which initiated such a process to prepare an NRC to curb the problem of infiltration across the border. The whole process was to identify the genuine Indian citizens in the state of Assam.
Further, the Modi government has no role at all in the entire process of the NRC in Assam as the process of updating Assam’s part of NRC started in 2013 was initiated by the Supreme Court of India. In fact, the Supreme Court bench headed by the then Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and Rohinton Fali Nariman monitored the process continuously.
Misleading reportage on the Citizenship Amendment Act:
The report asserted that the Modi government has also passed a law that made religion a criterion for migrants from neighbouring countries to formally acquire Indian citizenship.
In reality, what the report deliberately ignores to state is that it is not religion the sole criteria for granting citizenship to the minorities of the three neighbouring countries but it is the ‘religious persecution’ that forms the basis of providing citizenship in the country.
Further, the law passed by the Indian parliament does not automatically provide citizenship to any individual or minorities of the three neighbouring countries. The law only provides citizenship for the minorities who are persecuted in the three neighbouring countries and for people who are already residing in India before December 31, 2014. Further, the ‘persecuted minorities’ who have been already residing in the country must also prove their claims of being persecuted in the neighbouring countries.
Further, CAA is a special one-time measure for the religious minorities who have already come to India after facing persecution in the three specified countries. The amendment does not cancel the existing naturalisation laws.
It is an extremely dishonest act by Eurasia group to portray that the new Citizenship Amendment Act is discriminatory along religious lines without even understanding the details of the legislation.