Author: Gopal Vinod.
It has been a few days since our Parliament passed the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) into law plunging our democratic country into incessant protests. A keen survey of these protests throws up an assortment of grouses. From the regional strife in North-East to destruction of secularism to violation of articles 14 and 15, the list seems to be never ending. On top of that, the misgivings about India’s Muslim citizens getting robbed of their citizenship is being most volubly put forth.
Yet, the government has remained unconvinced and unmoved. While the Hon’ble Supreme Court has refrained from showing any undue haste in heeding to the shrill cries of ‘Constitution in grave danger’ – be it on the constitutionality of the CAA or on the protestors’ rights.
Putting oneself in a young student’s shoes, let’s try an honest analysis of various issues involved. So, who is in the right, here? Who is trying to tarnish whom? Who is conspiring against whom?
Has the government of the day really managed to bypass all constitutional checks and balances to get such an unconstitutional bill passed from the parliament?
Are our forefathers guilty of drafting and adopting such a weak constitution that needs to be saved by lumpen mobs’ wanton vandalising?
Has the Modi government really managed to stun the opposition to such an extent that they could neither stall nor boycott the parliament over a blatantly unconstitutional bill?
Has the parliamentary panel-based debate, discussion, recommendations and consensus-building process going on since 2003 been rigged by sleight to enact a law having provisions violating the intent and spirit of that consensus?
Or, is there much more to it than meets the public eye especially regarding the protests?
We have seen urban-centric, apparently students-dominated protests springing around centres of higher education, with Muslim educational institutions’ protests violently, vociferously and stubbornly differentiating themselves from other such students-led protests. Simply listening to the bigoted slogans being shouted by protestors at Muslim educational institutions would make even the protestors from non-Muslim educational institutions squirm and quake in disgust. These slogans have been brazenly communal and blatantly undemocratic.
Then there are another type of protests too. Urban ghetto-centric, cleric-politico-incited, Muslims-only lumpen mobs mercilessly pelting stones, viciously vandalising everything in sight and aggressively attacking the constitution-restrained police force. With Friday afternoon protests being the most dreaded. Eerily enough, these largely illiterate mobs, too, shout the same bigoted slogans as used by their supposedly educated counterparts from minority educational institutions. However, a frighteningly large section of the media has purposely chosen to filter out these rabble-rousing communal slogans. Are they inspired by the three Gandhian monkeys?
At places like Jamia Milia Islamia in Delhi, a confluence of these two types of protests was on full public display. A swarm of pseudo-intellectuals then descended to sugar coat the horrific deeds in terms of cherished constitutional freedoms and avowed civil rights. When the local MLA is seen openly indulging in blatant fear-mongering among the Muslims trying to make them feel insecure, the media shrewdly tries to shift the focus to the alleged excesses by the police. The media court has already held the police guilty of disproportionate use of force. In the process, it has also shamelessly tried foisting on us a new farcical student leadership.
While the unruly mobs are at it with total impunity, a section of the media and politicians is busy in glorifying arson as a new-normal for non-violent means of protest. Similarly, well-orchestrated rioting is being passed off as spontaneous outbursts of popular dissent. Yet, their apologists have the gall to invoke Gandhian teaching and preaching. And, the conniving media is gleefully allowing them to get away with it.
While there has been no dearth of evidence exposing the utter lack of knowledge to shallow understanding of the issues involved to deliberate duplicity on the part of the protesters, what is even more shocking is the missing coherence in reasoning and articulation on the part of CAA champions, supporters and beneficiaries.
The desperation of the protestors and their apologists, the liberal use of sophistry by the so-called liberals, the murmurs and rumblings from the international meddlers anxious to derail the CAA are all pointers of this CAA being something as historic as the fall of Berlin wall. Maybe even bigger. Yet, the CAA advocates seem to be clueless about how historic it is and how beneficial it is going to be.
Here is an honest attempt to first frame the issues of the debate in the right perspective and then present an unbiased and impartial survey of the factual position on those issues.
In fairness of debate, before the counter is presented, the main arguments of the protesters are enlisted and commented upon.
Let’s try to save reason from this politically motivated cacophony. Let’s try to save sanity from the cantankerous intellectual spin-doctors masquerading as political analysts and mastering the art of turning TV debates into mud-slinging, muck-raking shouting contests.
A brief overview of CAA protesters’ salient grouses (Poorv-paksha)
Secularism, North-East, Secularism, Violation of Articles 14 & 15, Secularism, Vision of India’s founding fathers, Secularism, Indian cultural ethos, Secularism, Narrow focus on just three neighbouring countries, Secularism, Exclusion of Sunni-majoritarian-states’ persecuted Shias and Ahmadiyya in the three neighbouring countries from CAA, Secularism, Exclusion of religiously persecuted Rohingya Muslims from Buddhist majority Myanmar, Secularism, impending NRC as a tool of the Hindu-Rashtra bogey, Secularism, Re-imagining of the Vision of India, Secularism, Secularism, Secularism and some more Secularism. These have been the buzzwords doing the rounds. Secularism – whatever that might mean.
To widen the appeal across all youth, Economic and Natural resources arguments are also being craftily slipped in by some including hijab-less, untied-hair, sari-clad Arfa Khanam Sherwani. This sartorial choice of hers is a deliberate smokescreen to present her as a modern, progressive, independent Indian female and as a face of moderate and tolerant Islam. And, it has been a roaring success. She and her ilk has been able to poison a large number of modern progressive youth that hold long-bearded cleric preachers in contempt. A careful comparison of her reporting with that of Islamic hardliners and loud-mouths like Owaisi shows a deeply disturbing commonalities in words, intentions and purpose.
If one adds to this list, the insinuating canard of CAA being meant for taking away the citizenship of Indian Muslims to render them stateless, there is a perfect recipe for inciting passions and arousing clarion instincts of the youth especially students.
The protestors and their intellectual apologists would neither mention nor respond to any mention of India’s bloody partition, the rapidly dwindling non-Muslim populations in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh (PAB countries) or for that matter the long-festering problem of massive Bangladeshi infiltrator population etc.
Yet, yours truly has been really appalled by the total absence of any mention of the ‘Shadow state of Nehruvian British East India’ in any counter argument or narrative.
And, this, pretty much, sums up the intellectual shallowness of the champions and the supporters of CAA. Hardly anyone has spoken a word on the stymieing stranglehold of the ‘Shadow state of Nehruvian British East India’ (or ‘The Establishment’ in short) on Indian policy making and its punitive costs that are borne by the common Indian citizen on a daily basis. And, hardly anyone seems to connect CAA as a baby step towards dismantling of that Establishment. And, mind you, this is the real tragedy here.
Secularism has always been the biggest beating stick and the creepy trick of this insidious ‘Shadow state of Nehruvian British East India’.
The Right Perspective
The issue of Citizenship lies at the very heart of the modern conception of a nation-state. And, for any nation with a legacy of mischievously forced bloody partition – that too overtly communal – under colonial duress, the issue of citizenship can’t be seen in isolation or in absolute terms.
Like it or not, this Indian citizenship question ought to have been settled at least half a century ago, if not even earlier. Why it had been left to fester for so long is a telling comment on the ‘Shadow state of Nehruvian British East India’. Now, it has to be understood and dealt with in a relative manner reflecting the grim ground realities of the day.
Any attempt to frame the debate on some hoary idealistic high-ground is either born out of sheer ignorance or is a nasty trick of deception aimed at ultimately undermining our future survival as a nation-state. One must not forget that balkanisation of India is a long-cherished dream of certain forces and the unfinished imperial agenda of the British Raj.
Let’s begin by asking the right questions:
- Was there a nation-wide referendum on partition, with universal franchise? No.
- Was there a sustained awareness campaign about the impending partition and its implications and repercussions? No.
- Were the affected masses provided with sufficient time and means to move over to the partitioned portion of their choice? No.
- Were the affected masses told that while one part would embrace all, the other part would only embrace ‘the religion of peace’ as the religion of the state? No.
- Were they informed that this peace would be the peace that an incorrigibly shameless bully enforces on those being bullied and persecuted? No.
- Were the affected masses told that while one partitioned portion would aim for the stars, the other would digress into an obsession with foreskin and seventy-two post-Qayamat virgins? No.
- Was anyone told about the risks to life, liberty and womenfolk of those non-Muslims who would be left stranded in that rootless country called Pakistan – West or East? No. A big, absolute NO.
- Were they informed that a whole new bullying vocabulary would be invented to silence intellect and reason? No.
- Were they informed that anyone calling out the bully would be heckled as an Islamophobic and anyone with the gall to call that bluff would be lampooned as a communal bigot? No.
- Were they informed that there would be a new world order giving an all-weather menacing clemency to their incestuous offspring named Pakistan? No.
Those who excel in doublespeak would shamelessly evade all such questions. Not only that, they would even try to appropriate the tallest nationalist leader who used to call a spade a spade seven to eight decades ago.
It is a pity that few votaries of CAA have actually read Dr Ambedkar and hence they often end up easily conceding ground to the silver-tongued spin-doctors in colonial-imperial service when they misquote and misappropriate the first law minister of India, the erudite Ambedkar. Ditto for Ambedkar’s counterpart Jogendra Nath Mandal, the first law minister of Pakistan. It is a real eye-opener to read the little-known tragic saga of the idealist Mandal first opting to move from West Bengal in independent India to newly formed Pakistan only to be shaken and shattered to ignominiously returning back to live a miserable low-profile life in a non-descript Bihar village. Add to it the sordid saga of the making and re-making and re-re-making of the Constitution of Pakistan and you realise how hollow, how cunning the protestors’ arguments are. And, tragically enough, how ignorant the champions and supporters of CAA are.
One can only wish that more erudite supporters of CAA take the fight head on into the detractors’ camp and expose their wicked, evil and treacherous spiels.
In the second part, we begin by considering, one by one, the merits of all arguments used to oppose CAA.
— End of Part One —
Gopal Vinod ‘Learner’ is a graduate in commerce from Delhi University and a PG Diploma holder in English-Hindi translation from the same DU. He was born on the 25 th independence day. Exactly four months after his birth, East Pakistan became Bangladesh courtesy the Indian armed forces. View More
Featured Image Credit: https://arunachal24.in/1100-academicians-release-statement-in-support-of-caa/