File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP President Amit Shah | Kamal Singh/PTI
File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Amit Shah | Photo: Kamal Singh | PTI
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The massive nationwide protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens have revitalised Indian civil society, with broad coalitions springing up between students, minorities, lawyers, Dalits, doctors, academics and the urban youth.

Not since the 1990 Mandal agitation has Indian society seen such an outpouring of people on the streets from Coimbatore to Delhi. If the coalitions hold, there is reason to feel optimistic about the future of India. If they don’t, and the CAA and the NRC are implemented, then India will be split between Hindu India vs Muslim India, northeast vs Hindi belt, north India vs south India and Kashmir vs the rest of India. Kashmir has been neglected in the recent protests and it is important that we don’t forget that it is a crucial part of the Narendra Modi government’s Hindutva agenda.


Also read: Modi wrongly quoted Mahatma Gandhi on Pakistan’s Hindu & Sikh refugees to defend CAA


CAA-NRC ramifications

In the event that the protests are unsuccessful, and Modi and Amit Shah are able to move ahead with their plans for implementing two-tier citizenship, we should be prepared for certain consequences that will alter Indian society and its relationships regionally and internationally forever.

Within India, society will be divided between a triumphal Hindus and a marginalised, resentful minority, which will forever look over its shoulders for the next demand and the next compromise that it will have to make for “acceptance”. Anxiety has already set in Indian Muslims ever since Parliament passed the CAA.

Economically and socially, it is very likely that Muslim youth will look to transnational Muslim causes like Palestine, Syria, Afghanistan as a way to focus on their politics. Pan-Islamist politics, especially the Wahabi kind, has been a very minor current in Indian Muslim political thought so far. That is one reason why homegrown Islamic radicalisation has historically never been an issue for India. With ISIS’ eyes already set on India, the alienation of Muslims might create significant problems in the country.

Second and more importantly, the diversity and complexity of Indian identity — both Hindu and Muslim, which has been regional, linguistic, caste and class-based much more than univocally religious — will be lost to a univocal, religious identity.

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The diversity of identities has been a hallmark of our nationalism and defines what it means to be Indian. The Indian national anthem says “Punjab, Sindh, Gujarat, Maratha, Dravid, Utkala, Banga”, not “Hindu, Muslim, Sikh”. When Maulana Azad or Jawaharlal Nehru were imprisoned, it wasn’t for their religious identities, but for their ideas of broad-based nationalism for all Indians.

But those Hindu apologists who take refuge in Samuel Huntington’s “clash of civilizations” theory to justify their radical ideology forget that this theory is now discredited and is just a ridiculed footnote in history.

Many have pointed out that the Citizenship Amendment Act is unconstitutional and goes against Article 14. It won’t be a stretch to say that in the future, laws may be amended to give preferential rights to Hindus.

Politically, the CAA-NRC step would be so out of touch with contemporary global thought that India would lose all claims to regional, international and moral leadership. In addition, Islamic nations, which we have close trade and cultural ties with, are already starting to show their displeasure. The US, with whom India has been building ties based on ‘shared values’ for the last three decades, can’t be counted on indefinitely. US senators have been questioning India’s moves ever since Article 370 was diluted in August.

Intellectually, revisionism will have to be undertaken on a massive scale. We will have to rewrite history to identify leaders and politicians by their religion, thus falsifying it as the primary identity. This process has already begun with attacks on Indian historians (such as Romila Thapar and Ramachandra Guha) and in debates over Veer Savarkar and Nathuram Godse. In this wave of saffronisation, one must remember Hindustani classical music also has a glorious tradition of thumri, khayal, qawwali and naat. Kathak, even bhangra, has echoes of central Asian dances. Will we have to part with these cultural heritages too?

Economically, India risks losing friendly ties and trust. Indian diplomacy is working twice as hard to explain to the world what the NRC and CAA are. Currently, India’s top 15 trading partners include the US at #1, UAE at #2, Bangladesh at #8, Malaysia at #13 and Saudi Arabia at #15. Almost 50 per cent of India’s exports are to fellow Asian countries. The world needs our cheap labour, but most countries will not go against popular opinion at home. Let’s not fool ourselves that economic rationalism will trump self-preservation for leaders like Recep Tayyip Erdogan or Mahathir Mohamad or Mohammed bin Salman.


Also read: All-India NRC will certainly fail. Here’s what Modi govt should do for its citizenship plan


Unintended consequences

And the most important and crucial part is our people. Logistically, how is India going to contain dissenters? No detention centre will hold so many people. Today, we are attacking Muslims, but who will the BJP target next? I am sure all minorities in India are secretly pondering this. Sikhs were already targeted under the Congress’ rule. Now, Muslims are under the gun.

Antonio Gramsci, in his Prison Notebooks, had said that in order to govern, all states need the consent of the governed. However consent can’t be demanded hegemonically, it has to be manufactured through balancing competing claims and through policies that benefit all sections of society. The Modi government seems to have forgotten this crucial piece of arthashastra, so it should be prepared for the laws of unintended consequences.

The author is Professor, International Studies and Refugee and Forced Migration studies, DePaul University. Views are personal.


Also read: This is why Modi will win the war protesters have waged against him on CAA


 

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24 Comments Share Your Views

24 COMMENTS

  1. Another fear mongering article. What about Lautenberg Amendent in states that allowed citizenship to persecuted Jews? Does India not have a right to have a registry of its citizens? how will it deal with illegal migration from Bangladesh? NRC was suppose to be done al long time ago; because congress and its stooges couldn’t accomplish it- they are going to smear the one person who is showing the political will to do so.

  2. u want to creat fear only, better to fight with radical islam now if v hv to coz after that it will be too late .. now d problems is we cant deny citizenship to hindus, sikhs etc. of our neighboring countries, as they hv nowhere to go. but illigal muslim immigrants changing our country’s demographics, so we cant accept all, they hv 56 islamic countries to go.

  3. 1. Discrimination against Muslims?

    Now the question comes in, as many are saying, that why does the CAA not have a provision in place for Rohingya Muslims of Myanmar, Ahmadi Muslims of Pakistan, Jews, Kurds, or Uyghurs (I included Jews, Kurds, and Uyghurs since I wanted to bring in other religions which are also not having provision under CAA). Kurds are another persecuted minority in the middle east region. The Uyghurs are another persecuted minority in China. India as a country has the right to choose which persecuted people it wants to accept or not accept, and it definitely does not have to accept everyone.
     
    Moreover, every country has a culture and systems in place that it would like to identify to or not identify to the most, which is as per its own choosing. For example, Israel has a policy called the ‘law of return’ which gives specifically Jews the right to come and live in Israel and gain Israeli citizenship quickly. But it is not the only way of acquiring citizenship in Israel, as non-Jews can become citizens by naturalization, residence, or marrying an Israeli citizen. India too is not in any way disallowing a person of the Rohingya Muslim community in Myanmar, or Ahmadi Muslim in Pakistan, a Jew, Kurd, or Uyghur to gain Indian citizenship.
     
    The constitution of India demands that we treat all religions equally, as you rightly said, and India is not shying away in any manner. Talking specifically about the treatment of Muslims, the constitution and law respects the rights of this religion as there are separate Muslim civil laws, holidays, separate autonomous universities with Muslim reservation, religious freedom, Haj subsidy for Mecca pilgrimage, etc, the list can go on.
     
    2. Persecution of Muslims in Muslim majority countries/Civil wars between one sect of Muslims with another sect:

    There are many persecuted Muslims around the world even when their country has a clear Muslim majority. Ahmadi Muslims in Pakistan is not the only group to be persecuted by other Muslims in their own country. There are civil wars occurring in the present

      i.  The civil war of Yemen: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-29319423,
       ii.            The civil war of Syria: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-35806229,
       iii.            ISIS, a well known terrorist organization is Muslim and it persecutes many other community groups including Muslims https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persecution_of_Shias_by_ISIL

    These are wars in which Muslims fight in between themselves, Shia fighting Sunni, or Alawites fighting Arabs, the list can go on and on. And mind you, these are not mere protests where one group is ‘voicing’ hate against another, arms have been taken up, people have died, and the economy of these countries has been shattered. India cannot start to accept all of these persecuted Muslim minorities under the CAA as then the number of people applying for citizenship to India in order to flee persecution from these countries could go very high.

    The number to benefit from the CAA as per the current religions is 31,313 persons. I don’t see how this would create a massive vote bank for BJP or any other party. Watch this debate between Subramanian Swamy Vs Kamal Farooqui: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yAxQWT8PFgY

  4. Yeh BJP waale kuch kaam nhi kiya na jobs de pa rhi hai na Mehengaai km kr pa rhe hain economy ekdum low level pr hai sirf faltu kaamon mein hi lage hain do kaudi ki BJP Government

  5. If they do succeed, India is, in any case, finished. We have to make sure they do not succeed, or find another place to move to.
    Seeing the efforts of the students in the last week or so, am fairly sure Modi will fail. I am still not 100 % sure because he is simply too cunning and ruthless. He can go to ANY extent. That terrifies me. Poor students.

  6. Pertinent and timely warning for those who cannot see how a medieval minded party has thrown an entire nation under the bus . It’s booming economy, it’s international goodwill, its centuries of rich, diverse culture – all blown to bits at the altar of ‘Hindu’ megalomania.

  7. Fully faltu paid commentary, how shameless some so called scholars can be! Simple thing like CAA has been framed to provide succour and bring back the persecuted to the mainstream. This stupid and idiotic author has made a mountain out of the molehill. I wonder about her upbringing and feel sorry for her parents and teachers.

  8. Hindus do not have the freedom to practice their religion in india. About one lakh temples, many of them major ones, are controlled by the government. Every other religion has the freedom to control their places of worship and set up educational institutions through which they can propagate their religion, they are even exempt from the social responsibility of reservations. Hindus need to open their eyes and demand equality before they are slowly reduced to a minority. One thing is for sure, as soon as Hindus fall below 50%, their end will come swiftly – through violence and bloodshed; just look at the plight of the minorities in our own neighbors. There has been an incidious congress- leftist conspiracy to keep Hindus divided so that they can be destroyed.

  9. Bogus scholar and bogus article. It doesn’t address remotely the predicament of Hindus in Pakistan and Bangladesh. These are paid stooges of jihadis and the evangelists.

  10. Many Indian Muslims who still live in India supported two nation theory and the division of India based on religion. To deny this today would be a preposterous lie. And India’s neighbourhood countries are becoming more and more Islamic throwing out their Hindus and Sikhs slowly. How on earth India can be immune to this unless the author expects all Hindus to be saints. But they are only humans.

    • How do you know that? Did someone do a survey?
      How many Muslims did you talk to?

      Or did this information come out of the rss propaganda that you seem to ascribe to?

  11. People should read and understand CAA, rather than go by perceived political and religious bias.
    Not supporting BJP, but anything BJP does is seen through the prism of saffronisation, instead of on the merits of the activity. Isnt this the real danger.
    If you start off with a negative perception the resultant interpretation would also be negative. Instead of educating people on the purpose of the act, the media is also fanning ignorance. This should stop

  12. What is BJP’ problem? This must be explained. Was the very founding of RSS justified or not? Current analyses do not take into account the historical problems?

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