People queue up to check their names on the final draft of the NRC in Assam
file photo of people in a queue to check their names on the final draft of the NRC in Assam | PTI
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The Narendra Modi government wants to update India’s National Register of Citizens, and may soon ask every Indian to prove not just their citizenship but even that of their grandparents. That is what just happened in Assam.

We don’t know what cut-off date the Modi government may set for the all-India NRC. Let’s say it says 1971, and you weren’t born in 1971, it’ll ask you to show proof that your parents or grandparents were born in India before 1971.

Here are seven good reasons why the NRC is a bad idea.

1. Is illegal immigration a big problem? The government wants to waste a lot of time and money identifying illegal immigrants among 130 crore people. But it hasn’t made the case that India is over-run by illegal immigrants.

Whenever the government is asked about this in Parliament, the Home Ministry gives a stock reply: “Since entry of such Bangladeshi nationals into the country is clandestine and surreptitious, it is not possible to have accurate data of such Bangladeshi nationals living in the various parts of the country.”

There are two kinds of illegal immigrants: those who cross the borders without passport and visa, and those who arrive with a visa and stay on even after the visa has expired. In a country which gets an estimated 1 crore foreign tourists annually, and many more under other visa categories, only about 50,000-70,000 overstay their visa. Around 6,000-7,000 are deported every year. Only around 1,000-2,000 are convicted under the Foreigners Act.

Here’s another stock answer the MHA often offers: “Detection and deportation of such illegal immigrants is a continuous process. Details of such deportation orders issued by the State Governments/UT administrations are not centrally maintained.” So, if this is a continuous process, why doesn’t the central government actually collate this data to see if the number of such illegal immigrants has grown exponentially?

In 2004, the Home Ministry said there were 1.2 crore Bangladeshi immigrants living in India. In 2016, the Home Ministry said the figure stood at 2 crore. These figures cooked up in thin air sound ludicrous when one notes that the entire Bangladeshi diaspora is said to be less than 80 lakh in number. The total population of Bangladesh is a little over 16 crore. To say that 2 crore Bangladeshis are living in India is a white lie, recently exposed by the Assam NRC. “Let me tell you,” the outgoing Bangladeshi High Commissioner to India said recently, “that a person of my country would rather swim in the ocean and reach Italy instead of coming to India.”

The state said to be the worst-hit by illegal immigration is Assam. The recently-concluded NRC updation exercise in Assam found that only 1.9 million or 19 lakh people were unable to prove their ancestors were Indian citizens, as opposed to the expectation that the list would run into many more lakhs. Out of these 19 lakh, a large number were non-Muslims, as against the hype that most illegal immigrants in Assam are Muslim.

Since 1985, Assam has had Foreigners’ Tribunals. Between 1985 and 2014, the Foreigners’ Tribunals looked into the citizenship of 9.4 lakh people. Out of these, the Foreigners’ Tribunals were able to declare only about 61,000 as Bangladeshi until 2014. Less than 2,500 of them have been deported to Bangladesh.

So, where is the evidence that illegal immigration is such a huge problem that 130 crore people must prove the citizenship of their grandfathers/ancestors?

2. Needle in a haystack: Surely, there must be illegal immigrants in India. Most countries have some. But the NRC process is like looking for a needle in a haystack. The data, or the lack of it, shows there are so few illegal immigrants among 130 crore people that it is simply not practical to go around checking the family tree of every Indian.

3. Guilty until proven innocent: The principle of natural justice is that one is innocent until proven guilty. But the NRC exercise presumes every Indian to be a potential ‘illegal immigrant’ until they can prove otherwise.

What will be the fate of those who refuse to submit documents, for instance? Do I become a stateless citizen despite having Aadhaar, passport, PAN card and myriad other documents, just because I can’t find my dead grandfather’s documents? Such are the anxieties the government is about to impose on 130 crore people to solve the non-existent problem of large-scale illegal immigration into the country.

4. Cost benefit analysis: Given the government’s inability to show that illegal immigration into India is a big problem, we also need to think about the waste of tax-payer’s money. In Assam alone, the NRC cost Rs 1,220 crore. At that rate, an all-India NRC might cost more than Rs 2 lakh crore. Is illegal immigration really such a big problem that the Indian government should be spending so much money checking documents of every Indian’s grandparents?

If even 0.5 per cent of the population is excluded in an all-India NRC, that would be 65 lakh people. That’s double the population of Jaipur. It’s insane to build detention centres to hold so many people in them for years, possibly forever. For comparison, India’s largest jail, Tihar in Delhi, has a capacity of roughly 6,250 prisoners.

5. NRC’s proven track record of failure: External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar recently joked that Albert Einstein would have been known for his definition of insanity had he been a political scientist. Insanity, said Einstein, was doing the same thing again and again and expecting different results. Jaishankar may well have been talking about his own government’s persistence with the National Register of Citizens (NRC).

Despite its spectacular failure to produce the desired result in Assam, the government wants to implement the NRC across India. The very people who demanded an NRC in Assam have rejected it twice. How does Amit Shah justify scaling up a failed idea?

6. Are illegal immigrants a threat to India? There could be Pakistani terrorists in Kashmir who the Indian security forces are already hunting down. But are poor Bangladeshi immigrants in India — to that extent that they may be present — really posing any threat to India’s security and sovereignty?

If they are stealing jobs, why don’t we feel the same way about Nepali citizens who are legally allowed to walk into India and find work?

If a few thousand illegal immigrants here and there are a burden on the limited resources of a populous developing country, why are we so eager to import non-Muslims from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh with an amendment to the Citizenship Bill?

7. Designed to target Muslims: India has already assured Bangladesh it won’t deport anyone excluded in the NRC. Why is it that the government wants to identify illegal immigrants but not deport them? Does it not speak of mala fide intent?

The real intent is to disenfranchise Muslims. Non-Muslims who can’t prove their citizenship will be just presumed as refugees and given citizenship under the new Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (CAB). Muslims excluded in NRC may continue to live in India as stateless citizens, fulfilling the Sangh objective of making Muslims second-class citizens. Officially and legally. The NRC’s real name should thus be MDS, the Muslim Disenfranchisement Scheme.


Also read: Modi’s new citizenship law will rip open the wounds of Partition


Sabka Vinash

NRC is the opposite of Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas. It is neither about inclusiveness, nor development, nor trust. The mayhem it will cause can better be described as Sabka Vinash, all-round destruction.

While the NRC exercise will be disastrous for the nation, it may be useful for the BJP. It will make sure it’s all we talk about, and not the sinking ship called the economy. How will you have the time to complain about unemployment when Modi is making you run around to find your grandfather’s birth certificate?

The xenophobic fear of illegal immigration, together with the NRC-CAB plan to disenfranchise Muslims, will be used to polarise voters for many elections to come. Modi can’t give Hindus jobs, but he may be able to give them the schadenfreude of reducing Muslims to second-class citizens.


Also read: NRC to GST – How Modi & Amit Shah create Anxiety Raj and still win elections


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38 Comments Share Your Views

38 COMMENTS

  1. Modi is bringing a very good move . All his move will create a better develop India unlike the neighbors or even west. In west all the people should register themself and is a crime if your are not registered. Every citizen is registered and have a identity card. The protest happening in India is ridiculous. People just don’t have anything else to do. Journalists be truthful to yourself and mature.

  2. Mar jao woh log Jo bhi NRC ke support me ho…. Jo log bhi NRC ke support me hai woh Zara apne grandfather ka birth certificate dikhade.. Meri baddua hai unlogo ko ki Kash unn par bhi kabhi aesa waqt aaye ki unhe bhi unke Ghar see koi bahar nikaal feke.. tab samajh aayega ki jiske saath guzarti hai woh hi samajh sakta hai bas… All supporters of NRC should hang to be death.. all are idoits

  3. Chup be Ghazwe e hind me supporter.muslims got pak & bangladesh in 1947 & Hindus got india.india is a land of hindu,sikhs,buddhist & not rohingyas,Turks,gourds or khorasans.

    • तेरे को हिन्दू राष्ट्र चाहिए तो नित्यानंन्द के कैलाशा में जाके बस जा।
      ये देश किसी के बाप का नही है सब ने इसे आजाद करवाने में पर्स योगदान दिया है। और तुम संघियों ने अंग्रेजों की दलाली की है।

      विकास और रोजगार और अर्थव्यवस्था सुधारने के नाम पे तुमसे कुछ हो नही रहा है बस हिन्दू मुस्लिम करवालो।

  4. Very nicely put. The current dispensation is the real tukde-tukde gang. They will end by breaking India – instead of Akhand Bharat, we will finish with Churna-Churna Bhumi. Atomised society will lead to fractured country. We have to resist how we can.

    • To oppose Govt(bjp not congress though NRC is introduced by congress) move he is not putting his side of the fact but only imagination ( how many B’desi o they hv diaspora only in lakh and population is 16 cr, how cud there be 2 cr B’desi…this is his reason/logic. which country counts its illegal immigrant n bcz B’des has 16 cr population it does not imply any thing abt illegal migrants , he does not hv idea how many B’desi entered in the country during 1971 and got multiplied eponentially) Poor B’desi is not threat to country’s security HOW? bcz he is poor-but people says that literate people don’t get involved in terrorism, poor is most targeted buy extremist-data is available on net. Today many muslims are getting radicalised bcz they used to live in colonies seldomly u find scattered muslim community–interaction with other community open ur mind( islam beinf a organised religion work as a fuel i m nt saying islam per say is bad……look what is happening in western countries-nordic countries, poland france germany forget about UK though we hv good chunk of good muslims bcz we hv strong family values which is now a days getting destroyed.

    • sole? as in the fish Solea solea? or the sole of a chappal?
      Bharat ek hai, hindustan is for us all and India is great, its soul-music being as much “sare jahan se achha” as “bande maa taram” and “jana gana mana”.
      if you don’t like our constitution, which declares us to be a secular country, please go find another place to take you in.

  5. Kennedy wanted to go to Moon. Reagan wanted vertical take off and landig passenger flight between Japan and New York in 6 hours. Each seeks his dream. Our chaiwala wants to count the population, aside from census and reduce muslim popoulation by force.. That is what a cuckoo thinks all the time

  6. Come to Bengaluru IT belt. In the rule of congress govt thousands of Rohingya and bangladeshi muslims are living here with all needed identifications like Aadhar, ration card etc. Question why poor kannadiga people who suffer drought in north karnataka accomodated in bengaluru? Why congress govt gets these questionable people from across the border for vote banks?

  7. Detection and deporting of illegal immigrants is govts. job as per constitutionally laid down procedures.It is not the job of govt. to go after legal citizens and prove their citizenship.The entire approach of govt. Bn is wrong and misplaced due to its suspicion with minority community.Theoretically say a country has 100 citizens of which there could be say 2-3 illegal citizens or immigrants.Instead of concentrating on these 2-3 what Amit Shah wants to do is to ask the 97 citizens to prove their citizenship which is totally illogical and in reality can have fatal consequences in their life personally for few and a catastrophic result for the country as a whole.They are playing with fire.

  8. There is one single reason that justifies NRC. It serves to distract the general populace’s mind from the rather mundane problems of a sinking economy, of fast deteriorating utilities, of hopelessness and hunger…..
    This senseless venture will be sold to the citizens as an necessary venture where they have to strap their stomachs and curtail their expectations in the larger good of national security. Perhaps, the most important question that our myopic leaders need tp answer is what they will do to the people who they identify as infiltrators?

  9. NRC or not population check by all measure is very much needed for country like India which is starved by natural resources and enough land mass. How can you deliver government assistance to right person when most data are fake and corruption at every level of government is rampant? India was ruled by foreigners even after 1947 as Nehru dynasty had no understanding of India and local culture, history etc.
    China had to do it and even other advance economic country does it. USA has just 12 million estimated illegal persons for a size of 2 & 1/2 of India. During 1971 war India hosted over 10 million as refugees for more than 2 years and why no congress government deported all refugees from neighbors?
    Congress plays vote bank policies and continue to ignor science and general well being of the nation and citizens.

    • Mr. WA university professor, there is no such activity in US. The number of illegal immigrant is estimated. There are raids conducted by ICE and other agencies to check illegal immigrants. The point is US being the most technology advance and biggest economy is not doing it. But a struggling economy and a country whose hunger index is on decline has this on priority.

    • Going by your logic
      Booby Jindal, who was briefly running for US Presidency, should be sent back to India because his name resembles to a Punjabi family
      Canadians chose 4 Sikh MPs to their parliament, which is more than what we chose in 2019, they should be sent back as well because they proudly adorn their religious symbol
      New Zealand n Australia should send back those who have PR there
      I can go on with this list

      Singh ji
      Gobar is a multipurpose material
      Gobar in stove works as fuel
      Gobar in mind makes one bigot
      Hope you will getwellsoon

  10. Rubbish arguments. Why India should not update its citizen register whereas every other country provides its genuine citizens a multi purpose identity card. At present we are harassed by govt agencies to submit different identity or address proof. KYC or know your customer is routine exercise which not only harasses but cause wastage of money and Xerox copies of papers. Why not give a single multi purpose photo identity or address document which can be electronically verified any where in world. NRC is that idea which may relieve us from pan card, ration card, driving licences, ration card and blah blah. Yes cut off date may not be 1971 but simply 10 or 12 years of residence in india as per Indian citizenship act. Once a base is prepared then it may be continuously updated with limited staff and expenditure. If we count long term benefits, expenditure like 1200 crore or 12000 crores immaterial.
    One more thing. You are calculating 19 lakhs who have been rejected in assam but not counting those who had not applied at all for want of proper papers but enjoying all the perks as citizens.

  11. Modi and Shah like NRC not because it can solve the problem of illegal migration but because it can pump fear and detest of the Muslim into the heart of the Hindu and from that base instinct, they can continuously win elections. We often say Indian voters are wise. But man is not permanently wise or evil. Those who lead and the zeitgeist make them wise, stupid and evil. This love for hate and fear in current India, fostered by the current political regime, is never going to work if man is good and reasonable. IT HAS TO FAIL (perhaps a costly failure).

  12. It would be better not to take the Indian voter for granted. To think of her as some sort of imbecile who would be so dazzled by the laser show of a national NRC that she would forget about her empty larder. Article 370 proved to be a damp squib in next door Haryana and somewhat far off Maharashtra. 2. The logistics of a national NRC would be maddening. No reason to believe opposition ruled states – Bengal has already opted out – would sign on. Quite a few Muslims might make an issue of it. A total boycott by them would be a huge national blot. There would be a lot of global opprobrium. Some things sound better during a bitter election campaign than in the cold light of execution.

    • Why did the smart voter gave Modi a dazzling victory in May 2019 Lok Sabha election, QUITE FORGETTING HER EMPTY LARDER? It is in fact Modi’s policies that has kept her larder empty! So, if for keeping her and her children HUNGRY, she rewards Modi with such a such a big victory, then she is most certainly an IMBECILE! It is nonsensical to think that the voter distinguishes between the federal election and state election. THE ECONOMIC POLICIES THAT KEEP THE VOTER HUNGRY ARE MADE BY THE CENTRE, AND NOT BY THE STATES.. WHY WOULD THIS SMART VOTER ELECT SOMEONE LIKE TERROR CHARGED SADHVI PRAGYA SINGH THAKUR, AND THAT TOO WITH SUCH A HUGE MARGIN OF MORE THAN 3 LAKH VOTES? The voters have stuffed the parliament with MPs with criminal charges filed against them!

    • A successful strategy will be tried again and again. Polarization gives perennial dividends. But India will lose and become increasingly insecure place in the process. But caste supremacists don’t care.

  13. Is it possible to manage anything without measuring it. How does one manage the population without knowing who many people are there. We have tried it over 70 years and look where we are. If one keeps spending without knowing what one earns, is it sustainable?

    • If you want to “measure” the population, you have to find a smart way to do so. NRC is not the way. If you can’t find a good way to do so, then you must RESIGN, and let those who can do it well, do the job!

      • boss, they gave a good idea of NRC, if you have better idea then suggest that otherwise stfu. Because i know u belong to that class of a person who will have no idea of his own and criticize every idea that anyone else has. so simply stfu.

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