It has been more than a month since the Citizenship Amendment Act or the CAA was passed by both the houses of the Indian parliament. The protests that started immediately following the passage have continued unabated for over a month despite more than thirty deaths due to heavy handed police tactics. Many more have been imprisoned on flimsy charges for excercising their right of free speech and assembly.
In state after state, in towns large and small and cities, on college campuses, at the court houses, at historic venues, the anti-CAA protesters are registering their protest against the body blow to India’s founding principles by singing the national anthem and reciting the preamble to the constitution.
After the passage of the bill in mid-December a feeling of helplessness enveloped me. I was afraid for India’s Muslims and other vulnerable groups. The rise of the BJP from a bit player on the political scene to its current status is built on the demonization of Muslims and anti-Muslim pogroms. Those fears were realized when reports of the brutal police actions in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led states, especially in Uttar Pradesh started trickling in.
The CAA takes aim at the heart of the Indian Constitution by singling out Muslims and treating them differently than adherents of other religions. This bill along with the BJP’s government’s plan to construct a National Register of Citizens would be a living nightmare not just for the 100 million plus Muslim population but also the poor and dispossessed. The NRC conducted in Assam gives us a window on how a similar exercise conducted on a national scale would turn out.
The BJP had tried to pass this law in an earlier session of the Parliament but it died because they didn’t have the numbers to pass it through the upper house, Rajya Sabha prior to the elections last May. But after gaining an imposing majority in the Lok Sabha in the last elections, this time around many smaller parties decide to go along with the BJP’s agenda in the Rajya Sabha and the bill passed both the Houses easily.(Left to Right : The Sangh role model, Mr. Modi in the Sangh uniform)
From our indefatigable Schroedinger’s Cat:
Protests have roiled India over the weekend. The Bharatiya Janata Party has become the Bharat Jalao Party (Burn India Party). Last week the Citizenship Amendment Bill become the Citizenship Amendment Act. According to the bill minorities from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan will be eligible for refugee status. The bill excludes Muslims. Neither does it cover Tibetan or Sri Lankan refugees.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 of the Parliament of India amended the Citizenship Act of 1955 providing a path to Indian citizenship for religious minorities from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. The intended religious minorities were explicitly listed as Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians, raising concerns that Muslims were being marginalised. The beneficiaries had to have entered India on or before 31 December 2014, and should have faced “religious persecution or fear of religious persecution” in their countries of origin. The Act also relaxed residence requirement for naturalization from 11 years to 5 years for these migrants.
This bill along with the BJP’s government’s plan to construct a National Register of Citizens portends doom for India’s 100 million plus Muslim population. BJP had tried to pass it in an earlier session of the Parliament but it died because they didn’t have the numbers to pass it through the upper House, Rajyasabha. But after gaining a imposing majority in the Loksabha in the last elections, this time around many smaller parties decide to go along with the BJP agenda in the Rajyasabha this time and the bill passed both the Houses easily.
The India of my childhood is being dismantled by the BJP. In our textbooks there used to be a Pledge.
India is my country and all Indians are my Brothers and Sisters. I love my country and I am proud of its rich and varied heritage. I shall always strive to be worthy of it.
I shall give respect to my parents, teachers and all the elders and treat everyone with courtesy.
To my country and my people, I pledge my devotion. In their well being and prosperity alone, lies my happiness.
Even as a child it seemed hopelessly naïve and idealistic to me. And God knows we did not live up to that ideal always but that was a worthy ideal to strive towards. The agenda of BJP, is the agenda of the RSS (Rashrtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh) or Sangh , the political off shoot of the black hats and brown shorts wearing all male volunteer organization is antithetical to both the pledge and the preamble to the Indian Constitution.
The Sangh’s plan for India has always been clear, to rid India of its religious minorities, especially its Muslims, or relegate them to an inferior or a secondary status. Their ideology asserts that if India becomes a Hindu Rashtra, all its problems will vanish into thin air. When the BJP was able to form a government on their own strength after the general elections last May, I knew that their long awaited ideological project would gather full steam.
It started with Kashmir by taking away the statehood of India’s only Muslim majority state, changing the criteria of which refugees can become citizens is the logical next step. What comes after this is the National Citizenship Register, whereby one has to prove their citizenship. The NRC has been applied to the northeastern state of Assam with disastrous consequences, making over a million Indians stateless. You don’t have to be an expert on Indian politics to know who is the target of these actions.
To this murder of the Indian Constitution, not so fast say the students and ordinary citizens of India. Protests have gathered steam all across India including on college and university campuses and elsewhere…Continued at the Schroedinger’s Cat blog
— mojo (@mojoreturns) September 21, 2019
Schroedinger’s Cat posted about this rally on Wednesday. I can’t claim her expertise in Indian affairs, but it’s gonna be interesting to see how the American grifters navigate the tricky politics of this event…
‘Delighted’ by Trump’s decision to join Houston rally, says Modi, as organisers of #HowdyModi rally rush new arrangements for the US President. Some issues over planned protests, criticism on 370 by US lawmakers remain. Reporting @the_hindu https://t.co/pbWWxOUc8C
— Suhasini Haidar (@suhasinih) September 17, 2019
Howdy Modi is a community summit hosted by Texas India Forum (TIF) for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday, September 22nd at the NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas at 10 am. Over 50,000 attendees have registered in three weeks for the sold-out event though online registration, waitlist registration for free passes is still open. The live audience will be the largest gathering for an invited foreign leader visiting the United States other than the Pope. The “Howdy Modi” summit has been organized with the support of more than 1,000 volunteers and 650 Texas-based Welcome Partner organizations…
There’s the GOP’s omnipresent xenophobia, for instance:
A bill intended to speed up green cards for Indian and Chinese immigrants caught in a years long backlog just failed on the Senate floor. Blocked by GOP Sen David Purdue. Indian immigrants waiting in the Senate gallery put their heads in their hands and covered their eyes
— Michelle Hackman (@MHackman) September 19, 2019
Or a certain ‘Democratic’ presidential candidate, who may not have been willing to risk such public connection with a controversial figure:
Corporate Media: Tulsi did a principled thing!
Tulsi: Absolutely not, correct this lie. https://t.co/40BnK68nRg
— Charles Я. Davis (@charliearchy) September 18, 2019
Thanks, as always, to Schroedinger’s Cat:
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has a rally scheduled in Houston this Sunday. WalMart is one of the sponsors and the President of the United States has promised to attend along with an estimated 50,000 attendees.
What bright future are we talking about? The Indian economy is in the doldrums, minority populations live in fear, rapists are not arrested if they belong to the ruling party while activists fighting for the rights of the dispossessed languish in jail without a trial. As for dreams, the dream of a Hindutva dominated India where minorities are persecuted and dissenting voices are silenced, sounds more like a nightmare. Where the truth is sacrificed at the altar of political expediency and history is rewritten to service the ideology of hate.
Why is Modi doing this? My guess is for the publicity and for the $$. It’s also a reward for those among the diaspora who opened their wallets for Modi’s reelection. This rally would give the Prime Minister a much needed PR boost internationally after the draconian anti-democratic steps being taken in Kashmir since August 4th. It will show his fans and supporters back home in India that India has the world’s respect. Getting the US president who routinely demonizes immigrants, to a rally attended mostly by immigrants is definitely a PR coup for team Modi.
I was actually surprised that the White House accepted the invitation. Indian Americans have voted heavily for Democratic candidates in the recent past, see the figure below. Some have suggested that the crowd size may have been the irresistible attraction. Besides the fact that the Hindu right has deep pockets.
In addition to the President, 60 other elected leaders of both parties have promised to attend according to the organizers. Here is the list of those whose names appear in the news dispatch.
Sheila Jackson Lee
Sylvia Garcia, Greg Abbot
Firstpost is reporting that Steny Hoyer is also going to attend.
Check if your representative or senator is on the list and going to share a podium with a man who presided over a pogrom targeting Muslims in 2002 as the chief executive of Gujarat and is pursuing a nakedly majoritarian agenda in his second term as the prime minister. Actions in Kashmir being the case in point, where people have been without internet or cell phone access and access to medical care since August 4th.
Check out the BBC for news updates on Kashmir.
Watch this space for more updates on this developing story of the Houston rally. If you have questions leave them in the comments.
Thank you, Schroedinger’s Cat:
I am afraid that the scrapping of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution is just the beginning, it has little to do with the development of Kashmir. Prime Minister Modi’s agenda for India in his second term is to change India’s constitution and pave the way for a majoritarian state which is a democracy in name alone. 94 years after its formation the Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh (RSS) is the closest to achieving its goal of the Hindu Rashtra (Hindu Nation).
The international media is missing the RSS agenda behind Modi’s actions. Before he entered politics, Modi was a pracharak or a fulltime evangelist for the RSS. Just like the previous Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) prime minister, Mr. Atal Bihari Vajpayee before him. There is no daylight between what the Sangh wants and what the BJP wants.
BJP is the political front of the Sangh, an all male grassroots fraternal organization that has had only one non-brahmin sarsangchalak (chief of the Sangh) in its almost hundred years of existence. According to some estimates, a group that makes up around 5% of the population of India. Also with two exceptions spanning 16 years, all the other sarsangchalaks have been Marathi brahmins. The Sangh still does not admit women. For a group that purports to speak for all Hindus its leadership is drawn from a tiny slice of Hindu male brahmins.
India is as complex as Europe would be if it were one country. India is home to two major language families and twenty two official languages. India also has the second largest population of Muslims in the world. The Sangh sees this diversity be it religious or linguistic as inherently problematic. Their dream India, which they call Bharat, is united under the saffron banner of Hindutva speaking as one in one language, Hindi. Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists are considered Hindu for the purposes of this classification but Christians and Muslims are not. Sangh ideologues have argued that diversity made India weaker and an easy prey for the British in the 18th and the 19th centuries and the first wave of Muslim invaders from Central Asia a thousand years ago and later. The way for India to go back to its former greatness is to unite under a banner of a Hindu Rashtra (Hindu Nation).
Britain has been forgiven but BJP and its sympathizers want Muslim citizens of India to pay for the sins of the central Asian invaders and also for the formation of Pakistan. Their claims about a Hindu rashtra are inspired more by the nationalistic fervor sweeping Europe in the early twentieth century than they are by ancient India. Here is what Madhav Golwalkar, the most influential sarsangchalak who held the post for 43 years had to say about Hitler’s Germany in a book published in the 1940s.
…To keep up the purity of the nation and its culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging the country of Semitic races – the Jews. National pride at its highest has been manifested here. Germany has also shown how well-nigh impossible it is for races and cultures, having differences going to the root, to be assimilated into one united whole, a good lesson for us in Hindustan to learn and profit by.