It has been over a month since the Indian Parliament passed the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) tabled by the Narendra Modi-led government. Indians and the world has not taken the news well, and if you think otherwise, you have been living under a rock. India continues to see demonstrations, protests, and unfortunately, in some cases, violence too. The CAB has been a topic of contention here in Toronto even today. In fact, there have been silent protests and demonstrations against the Bill across Canada. While there are no more protests, the topic is very much a part of our every day.
It has gotten to a point where merely belonging to the Indian subcontinent leads to an extensive discussion on what Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah “intend to do with the Muslims in the country.” Canada hosts a sizeable population of the Indian diaspora, which is why any action taken there, immediately echoes in the towns and suburbs of the Great North. Not only the community, even mainstream politicians dipped their toes in the subject. Leader of the Opposition, Jagmeet Singh of the New Democratic Party (NDP) tweeted against the CAB last month. He wrote, “The Indian government's new Citizenship Amendment Law purposely discriminates Muslims & other minority communities. It is wrong & should be denounced. At a time of rising hate & polarization, governments should work to unite people, not divide them.”
I have kept my mouth shut for a major part of the drama that has ensued since the announcement of the bill. Did I like the fact that Muslims were shut out of the provision? No. Not one bit. I feel the world underestimates Muslim persecution in Muslim-dominated countries.
However, the majority of the protesters are missing out on other major groups and that is something I can't stop picking at. The CAB – or rather, “Amit Shah's CAB” leaves out any mention of Tamil refugees from Sri Lanka or Buddhist refugees from Tibet. If we want to cry discrimination, why isn't there a lot of noise about these communities being left behind?
Lo and behold! Kashmiri Hindus in the country, inspired by the anti-CAA protests held protests demanding their rights on their homeland- The Valley. Let us all take a minute and think of the consequences of taking to the streets with half-baked knowledge loosely based on a tweet sent out in the middle of the day by someone with an egg for a profile picture. Indian-Canadians are the second-largest immigrant group in Canada, with over half residing here as citizens, or Permanent Residents, and the remaining as students. Their influence is felt all over the country and in the neighbouring US. Meanwhile, back in India, petitions against the Bill are listed for hearing on January 22. However, before you rejoice, the Supreme Court has not clamped a say on Shah-Modi's CAB- so the Home Ministry could very well notify rules about who all can apply for citizenship, and other details.
Now, it is true that the government should have been better prepared to deal with the expected protests in the North-East. Secondly, how blind are those who voted for the BJP? Modi and Shah had signalled their intentions by including the CAB in the party manifesto during the elections. Also, there has been steady murmurs of this since Modi first came to power in 2014. In a way, shouldn't Modi voters rejoice in the fact that the elected government is acting on the promises it made while campaigning? Do not even get me started on the weak and rather incoherent response of the Opposition. They make the general protests look lame and confused, and in stark contrast to the BJP's certainty and firmness on the issue.
As long as the actions or moves made by the Indian government is in course with the basic law laid down by the Indian Constitution, there is nothing more to be said. The only recourse left is to wait for the next opportunity to cast your ballot.
Just like any other move, CAB was implemented in true Modi fashion too– with a big bang. It has been almost six years since NaMo took the reins in his hands, and yet, people seem to be flustered with his every move. Given the current Opposition, I would say if you REALLY want to be surprised, Vote for Rahul Gandhi next time.