Union Home Minister Amit Shah
Union Home Minister and BJP president Amit Shah | Photo: Suraj Singh Bisht | ThePrint
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Home Minister Amit Shah’s constant demand for a countrywide NRC has deservedly received plenty of criticism from a constitutional and ethical standpoint, though this hasn’t stopped him from coming up with fresh promises. On Monday, Shah said he will ensure all infiltrators are out of India by 2024. In all this, what many have not talked about is the practicality of such a ridiculous proposal, which I would rank lower than Donald Trump’s desire to build a wall along the US-Mexico border. Many conservatives led by their ideologies might support decisions like NRC and border wall, but their economics cannot be denied by anyone.

Assam proved to be an inconvenient experiment, showing us what the result of a nationwide exercise could be. It took over four years and reportedly cost the central government Rs 1,600 crore to update the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam. More than 55,000 people were employed, and more than 3.2 crore people from Assam applied to register themselves.

There is no official data on what it cost the average person to find the documents, fill in the application form, travel, stand in queue for hours, register themselves, and go through a verification process where many people were called over multiple times to verify their citizenship. In several cases, the entire family had to travel long distances. Initially, 40 lakh people were excluded from the NRC list, which meant more verification rounds. All this amounted to a gigantic proportion of loss of time, money and productivity.


Also read: Mandate against NRC — Mamata says after winning Bengal BJP chief’s home turf, 2 other seats


Another demonetisation ‘masterstroke’

If only the Modi government had the example of demonetisation to know how disastrous an ill-planned decision can be.

What made the 2016 demonetisation utterly useless is how stupid the idea itself was and how arbitrary the process. In November 2016, many bankers reportedly converted “black money” into white at a commission, which eventually meant that nearly all the cash returned to the banking system. NRC is very similar in these regards. Replace bankers with verification officers with the power to include or exclude someone from the list. The idea that some or many officers worked at a commission to randomly include or exclude people is pretty feasible. So, it’s not a surprise that nearly everyone was disappointed with the final NRC list. Some cried over the exclusion of Hindus; others were hurt over the number of illegal Muslim immigrants being so less.

What makes NRC an even bigger blunder than demonetisation is that it doesn’t stop with the declaration of the final list. That is just the first part of the process. The bigger problem becomes clear when you think about the excluded people – what will happen to them? where will they go?

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The immediate answer from someone who supports the NRC is “send them back to Bangladesh.” This is as ridiculous as Trump suggesting Mexico will pay for the wall. What’s in it for Mexico? Just like that, what’s in it for Bangladesh? Why would it accept “illegal immigrants” unless it sees some kind of political or financial benefit? The Sheikh Hasina government has already said Bangladesh will not take in any deportees. The Modi government understands the difficulty, which is why it is going for the second option – detention centres.


Also read: BJP could be shrinking politically but is winning big time ideologically


The ‘solution’ is a huge problem

Detention centres raise several ethical, moral and constitutional concerns. But let’s focus more on how practical they are since there is already a significant amount of support among the public to house ‘illegal immigrants’ in these camps.

Assam’s first detention centre is being constructed at a cost of Rs 46 crore spread over 2.5 hectares and will house 3,000 people. But there are 19 lakh people excluded from the final NRC. Here is the math: the cost of simply building detention centres for all the excluded people will be upwards of Rs 27,000 crore. And this is just in Assam. Imagine the cost of constructing detention centres all over India. Also, how many detention centres would the Modi government construct?

Moreover, this cost doesn’t include maintenance, food, shelter, and the upkeep of these centres. We are easily looking at a figure in lakhs of crores of rupees. The same amount of money could be used to construct thousands of schools, hospitals and fund slum rehabilitation programmes, which would actually benefit Indians.


Also read: Why Modi’s India looks eerily similar to the one under British after 1857 revolt


Where the money should be spent

A typical question at this point will be: ‘But what about the illegal immigrants?’ ‘How should they be controlled?’ The solution is a lot simpler than what many realise; the only problem is that it’s politically not marketable – better border control and increase of foreign aid to countries like Bangladesh.

We must directly deal with the influences that make people leave their home country. Money is better spent in setting up skill development and vocational training centres, schools and universities, which will make people employable. Not only will it foster economic development in both India and Bangladesh, but it will also improve the relationship with our neighbouring countries overall, which will make them more compliant towards immigration issues. Thus, improving lives across the border prevents people from illegally crossing over – all the while, costing the same or less amount of money.

The author is an activist and YouTuber. Views are personal.

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61 Comments Share Your Views

61 COMMENTS

  1. The problem of illegal migration is that it is not happening in reverse. No body is going to Pakistan , Bangladesh or Afghanistan. These countries and India can not become very rich in the near future to curb illegal migration to India. In India, muslim migrants can mix up well with other muslims. Then it creates security issue. These muslim migrants can be misguided by muslim terrorist organizations of Pakistan and Afghanistan. NRC is in Assam was ordered by Supreme court, so why blame it on BJP. The country wide NRC can be done without any corruption if planned well.Most of the illegal citizens of any religion can also be granted citizenships with careful scrutiny about their background. After NRC, it will be easy to catch illegal immigrants. Eastern Indian states do have a serious problems of illegal migration resulting into several serious problems like security, change in ratio of original population and increase in voters of particular religion.

  2. AFTER ABOUT 67 MONTHS IT MUST BE EVIDENT TO EVEN A NON-DISCERNING INDIAN THAT MODI-SHAH CARE VERY LITTLE ABOUT INDIA SO LONG AS THEY CAN KEEP THE BJP IN POWER BY HOOK OR MOSTLY BY CROOK .IT IS THE POLITICAL BANKRUPTCY OF TODAY’S OPPOSITION THAT THE CHANCE OFFERED BY MODI-SHAH TO POLITICALLY ANNIHILATE THEIR PARTY HAS NOT BEEN LAPPED UP . AS USUAL THE CONGRESSMEN ARE FIGHTING EACH OTHER MORE THAN THEY ARE FIGHTING THE MODI-SHAH DUO -WITNESS KARNATAKA EACH POWERFUL CONGRESSMAN IS TRYING HIS BEST TO UNDER CUT THE OTHER CONGRESSMAN IN AN EFFORT TO PROJECT ONESELF . THE CONGRESS NEEDS SOMEBODY LIKE INDIRA GANDHI RATHER THAN THE STAID CENTRAL LEADERSHIP THAT IT HAS TODAY IF THEY ARE TO BEAT THE MODI-SHAH AT THEIR OWN GAME . OF COURSE, MODI-SHAH WILL DO ANYTHING TO COVER UP THEIR ADMINISTRATIVE INEPTITUDE AND LACK OF EFFICACY

  3. DO WE IMPLANT HONESTY DETECTION SENSORS INSIDE EVERY CHILD THAT IS BORN? HOPE MODI-SHAH DUOPOLY WILL ENACT A LAW MAKING IT MANDATORY TO IMPLANT HONESTY SENSORS! ANY DISHONEST ACT BY THE CHILD WHEN IT BECOMES A WOMAN OR A MAN WILL SEND SIGNALS TO THE PMO WHOEVER MAY HEAD PMO!

  4. Rohingyas deportatiion had invited lot of criticism. Even India had spoken against it. First step to is to avoid infiltrators in future by making our border posts secure and make the people guarding Borders more honnest and vigilant. Once further influx is stopped, problem of identifying Bangladeshis will be little easier.
    In Assam Corruption in Assam NRC was common and cannot be avoided in other states. We are not going to gain much with NRC.

  5. NRC duty was also a scam for corrupt, selfish officials and junior staff under Govt. of Assam. I myself had seen a couple of such guys in an office who on getting transferred during the time of NRC exercise got letters written from the Deputy Commissioner’s office (that he was on NRC duty when he was not) to stay in the profitable posts they occupied. Even a Deputy Commissioner lies, what a shame!

  6. Let me ask one thing why the Citizens of India provide proof of citizenship, it is Government Duty to keep the record of each and every citizen of India…Also this Government is shifting the responsibility to the Citizens like, what they did for Demonstration….also who are the target Poor women, displaced people by clamity, illiterate people adivasi, so on soforth and why they are demarking 1951 census, it is just food for thought….

    • Skull cap you beggars want unwanted suwars to come India and disturb peace but that will never happen so far Hindus are calm its alright but once to finger then then you do not want to know what will happen

  7. I don’t know the position now but earlier labourers from Bangladesh used to crowd construction sites everywhere in India because of advantages of slave wages.

  8. 😂 Wow something is burning
    I can see illiterate peoples talking about economy, thanks to our beloved pm at least they have learned about economy after 2013
    Well print, quint, wire, ndtv there is nothing left. To say about u, u people hqve already been exposed. ur one sided agenda is crystal clear, btw who gives u funding is it kejriwal or pappu 😂

  9. NRC is a necessity for our country as our neighborhood countries are failed states. People in large numbers illegally cross over to our country, we have a wast border which make it difficult to manage. NRC should have been here since 1951. Every country in this world has such system . With advent of technology now it is possible . So proper planning it should be implemented.

    • “Every country in this world has such system” – what a lie! which other coutries (barring Germany) you have in mind? US certainly does not have such a system. and what arrogance to claim that all our neighbours as “failed states”!!

  10. NRC is process by which government will identify illegal immigrants living in India. An illegal immigrant is an illegal immigrant and his or her religion does not matter. So to start arguing is that it is against a particular religion is the first canard. No Indian national of any religion need to worry about NRC process. It is definitely possible that the documentary proof of citizenship may be difficult to obtain but that is a part of the process which is definitely not arbitrary and is governed by a due process of law. Once someone is identified as illegal immigrant, what do we do? Allow the person to continue but without citizenship rights but a separate identity card or send him back to his country of citizenship? This question is not yet fully answered. The first choice is an easy one and the second choice could be difficult and complicated. The third issue is if such illegal immigrant is of Indic religion, then such person will be given Indian citizenship if such person is leaving the his or her country due to religious persecution. This is a fair deal as all our neighboring countries barring Nepal are religion based and persecution of minorities has been a serious issue for a long time. Hence, India has a natural obligation to allow such persons to offer them shelter and grant nationality to them. Fourth, if anyone from NRC non-specified community from these countries wishes to take refuge in India, such a person can always come in based on UN guidelines and humanitarian concerns. India allowed millions of Bangala Deshis to take refuge in 70s and also Rohingyas recently, Hence, the whole issue of NRC is blown out of proportion by usual anti BJP rants rather than thinking through logically. Is such exercise worth it finally or too expensive? This can be debated but we must find answer to the question as to who are illegal immigrants staying in the country. By all means we ought to secure our borders and reduce inflow of illegal immigrants and support our neighbors in their economic development. But this is besides the issue we are concerned with.

    • all our neighboring countries barring Nepal are religion based: bangladesh, according to its constitution, is secular. bhutan and srilanka are budhhist. nepal used to be a hindu state till it became a democratic republic. china (let us not forget our biggest neighbour) is certainly not religion based. maldives and pakistan are of course officially islamic. so there!

    • Allow the person to continue but without citizenship rights but a separate identity card: what a stupid and dangerous idea! will their children inherit the 2nd class critizen status? or are you thinking to forbidding these people to have children? do we really need to divisions in india?

  11. Whenever they start implementing the NRC there will also be a shortage of kerosene in India , as people rush to burn BJP offices all over the country. Pollution will also increase as all that rubbish goes into the fire.

    • You will also have to undergo thenfull process to prove yourself a xitizen of India with the documents of your father and grand father and may be if you are married your wife is not in the list but in detention centre. After all these what ever number is left will spend their life time in detention centre and in Assam already hundred have died of disease, hunger and mal treatrment and who know you are on of them?

  12. Those whose name does not figure in the NRC will either live permanently on Indian government’s dole, in refugee camps, which will be an impossible burden, or if they are allowed to live freely in India but without citizen’s voting and other fundamental rights, then they will effectively live like SLAVES. Shame on us, if this is going to be our NEW INDIA!! A country of 21st century which keeps slaves! Modi-Shah must absolutely give up the idea of NRC at panindia level. It was different for Assam because it has a porous border with Bangladesh. For the country at large, there can be no justification for it.

  13. Holistically, it is people, paisa and then things in life. If you do not recognize this, you are doomed in life. In any case, people are not demonetizing paisa. Vinasha Kale, vipareeta buddhi even when you have none

  14. If World Bank data is to be believed, Bangladesh had lesser percentage of people under poverty than India in 2011. If NSSO data is to be believed, poverty increased in India post 2011 while it has been declining in Bangladesh. If Global Hunger Index is to be believed, Bangladesh is much better than India in tackling hunger. Average life-span in India is 4 years less than that in Bangladesh. If UNESCO and World Bank’s assessment of human capital are coreect, India lacks Bangladesh in the quality of human capital. So, if all these research reports are true, no one in the right mind would move illegally from Bangladesh to India in the near past, especially when the Bangladesh bordering districts of India are quite poor. The border with Pakistan is too well-manned to allow mass migration. I think Shah has no problems with migration of people from Nepal or Bhutan or Sri Lanka, although most of these places are better-off than India.

    So as a businessman can Shah justify the huge expenditure on NRC and consequent detention? Let Shah specify the expected costs and benefits of NRC and give an undertaking in court that BJP, as a party, will bear all cost over-runs and compensate the government of India if the expected benefits are not realized. The government should also compensate all legal citizens for the time and cost incurred in proving their citizenship and that amount should be added to the cost of the program. If these changes are made, I will support NRC. Otherwise, I do not want to waste my time and money, as a human being, and my share of taxes as a tax-payer to fulfil someone’s idiotic rants.

      • I cannot understand your post. I never mentioned Congress and I wan’t this same principle for all new rules. So what’s your point? As idiotic things happened in the past, it should happen in future?

      • After Ayodhya , this is the best tool to polarise, terrorise and have the people at your mercy all at the same time. It’s votebank politics to always remain in power. NRC must be resisted tooth and nail. Why do the citizens need to stand in queues and wait in timid anticipation for our citizenships?

  15. Amit Shah wanted the voters divided in 2024 and now it has already begun. People can criticise Rathee, but why Congress would spend on him whe his observation have few takers.

  16. ThePrint could not find anyone else but rabble rousing You tuber whose sole purpose in life is to criticise the establishment. One expects some professional expertise from contributors be it working as a journalist, a government servant, a politician or a lawyer. How can one rely on the analyses of a man who will criticise the government even for it’s welfare measures. Dhruv Rathee has a degree in mechanical engineering from Germany and a master’s degree in renewable energy engineering. He has been living in Germany since many years. He doesn’t have the slightest idea of Indian politics, economics, society. He is being given undue prominence by some media outlets for reasons best known to them. Some have figured that there is a larger conspiracy behind promoting media figures like him and a few actors, news anchors and comedians who in their appearances often refer to each other and have formed a club which often uses the same reasoning as each other. I would like to believe theprint is not driven by such motivations.

    Some might say this focus on the message. I am unable to because the man is clearly driven by one agenda -to criticise the government. And two, because an engineer who doesn’t even live in India, who started of with travel blogs of foreign countries by his admission, and probably spent the better part of his adult life preparing to move abroad and was not even aware of ground realities when he left does not deserve publication in a serious outlet.

    • So let me get this straight.
      It is way past midnight as per your response time, and you have nothing better to do than argue that Dhruv Rathi is so unqualified to comment upon NRC.

      You have not refuted any of his arguments. The calculation holds. The logic holds too.

      What an utter waste of existence you are Mr. G. Munde.

    • Mr Munde,
      Instead of writing this much which doesn’t corelate with the article by Mr Rathi, I suggest you to counter him with proper logic categorically so that innocent readers like me and many more can understand your point opposing Mr Rathi, otherwise it seems both of you are sailing on the same boat, because, as you see Mr Rathi as a “biassed” critique of the Govt, many may find you like a “blind supporter” of the Govt.
      However I don’t find anything wrong, untrue or fake fact in whatever Mr Rathi has cited. Moreover I disagree with your point of Mr Rathi, possessing degree from Science stream, must not have proper knowledge for writing this article! You never know the extent of talent or knowledge one may have.

  17. Don’t pay attention to the hate comments this are Extremist BJP Supporters who are taught by their parents to hate everyone since childhood

  18. Recall that map of India put out by India Today. Each state government will apply its mind to the costs / benefits of such an exercise, starting with the basic premise whether illegal migration is a genuine problem. There would be no compulsion to join on, some might carry this issue to the apex court. At the very least, they would want the Centre to pick up the entire tab, which would be substantial, if Assam is a guide.

  19. I could not believe this Rathee guy’s article is here on print. Being critical is one thing and just being a rebel in 20s writing non-sense without any experience of life is another. Utterly disappointed to see personal views of inexperienced YouTubers put here on print. Please Don’t promote non-sense in the name of sounding cool! Criticize Modi as much as you want but please bring some people who understand what they are saying. Activist in his 20s 🙂 …RIP journalism…unbearable over the top Arnab is better than rathi

      • Sarfraz ,Anon1, Oklay..
        If you are a muslim you keep reading such articles your frustration keeps growing and you feel more marginalized by the society. Don’t love modi but please don’t fall into the trap if these idiots…This is a request not any aggressive order.
        You don’t like modi and Bjp…thats fine and acceptable.. more acceptable as BJP has done nothing for Muslims to make them happy..But just to you find solace in BJP criticism by useless ppl like rathi is of no use….I’m not saying that this government is perfect but these articles are clickbait articles which will be loved by Muslims and other minorities who don’t like the government. Better to read the criticism of more experienced people who don’t just keep hating others. …This guy even said that Rally for river is a fraud exercise 🙂 …rest I leave it to your intelligence….I’m no bhakt ..Modi govt has done a lot of blunders but rathi and his jamaat are utter idoits.

      • Bill gates was constructive, gave jobs to people , did not waste his youth in finding flaws in others, was rational and not blatantly biased..accepted the society has issues but those can be solved by being a problem solver not activist…..If you feel rathi is next gates then I have no words.

        • Thanks for sharing so much positive facts and thoughts on Bill Gates. I know he pleased our PM recently. So he is in good books of bhakts nowadays. Let’s say good things (which they deserve) about some actions of someone who one thinks is not in his side or some actions of who is not to one’s liking – like I said in case of Gates. I am sure Insequential will also do the same in case of Rathee.

    • They have a problem with people in their 30s doing a PhD. They have a problem people in their 20s writing a well-researched article. There’s never pleasing these blind bhakts!

    • Then why bring Bangladeshis thru CAB(only for Hindus basically)? The Assamese do not want to lose their language. Everybody knows CAB is designed to keep the Hindu Bangladeshis in Assam.

  20. Why should the end result always be deportation? Those who can’t prove their Indianness wlll remain but as refugees, with those rights. They should not be allowed to vote, etc. but otherwise can remain. What is the big problem? The biggest benefit of an NRC would be in preventing FUTURE migration

    • Yes – but remain where? In the concentration camp? Is this the final solution to the infiltrator problem?

      Migration is due to two primary reasons 1) Economic opportunities or 2) Dislocation due to war, natural disaster or persecution. Of you would like to stop migration you need to stop these root causes. Creating a literal or legal wall has little or no impact towards Migration.

      FUTURE migration will continue regardless of whatever many legal restrictions there exist. There will continue to be a presence of the Bangladeshi maid, gardener, labourer in the shadows of our society as long as there is an economic incentive for the shadows to exist.

    • So, you want the people who suffer in other countries by the hands of the govt. to die? rather than letting them migrate to a safe place? Has humanity died?

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