Opinion Op Ed 31 Dec 2019 CAA & NRC are a ...

CAA & NRC are a wake-up call for all Indians

DECCAN CHRONICLE. | NILOFAR SUHRAWARDY
Published Dec 31, 2019, 2:59 am IST
Updated Dec 31, 2019, 2:59 am IST
Amit Shah needs to perhaps deliberate on his confidence about remaining in power for 50 years because of the 2019 parliamentary victory.
There is also a severe temporal lapse in the BJP’s drafting of the NRC as well as the CAA.  (Photo: PTI) (Photo: PTI)
 There is also a severe temporal lapse in the BJP’s drafting of the NRC as well as the CAA. (Photo: PTI) (Photo: PTI)

As the year ends, by snatching Jharkhand from the BJP’s command, the Congress is probably having the last laugh. Anti-BJP protests and demonstrations across the country against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC) have certainly punctured the larger-than-life image projected about Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It has deflated electorally also in Jharkhand. Hopefully, the Jharkhand results will not make the Congress over-confident about its prospects in the forthcoming Assembly elections, particularly in Delhi. At present, the party needs to pay strategic importance to its anti-BJP campaign even if this demands an alliance with a regional party. Regarding Jharkhand, the Congress acted shrewdly by allying with a regional party prior to the Assembly elections than choosing to deliberate on its options after the declaration of the results. Besides, its protests against the CAA and the NRC has apparently not been ignored by voters.

Amit Shah needs to perhaps deliberate on his confidence about remaining in power for 50 years because of the 2019 parliamentary victory. One needs to view his 50-year “obsession” from another angle. He may be around, but there is no guarantee that he’d still be in power.

 

There is also a severe temporal lapse in the BJP’s drafting of the NRC as well as the CAA. The selection of the year 1971 for registering citizens in keeping with the NRC, which has so far not extended beyond Assam, is fairly puzzling. The framers of the NRC presumed that they will take little time in implementing it beyond Assam. India is not Assam, nor is it just Gujarat or Jammu and Kashmir (J&K).

Some importance should also be given to this nation’s functioning in keeping with its Indian Standard Time. Everything does not get done in time here. So, I am wondering, by the time some designated officials land up at the houses of those born before 1971, on the basis of God knows which data, there is no guarantee that those persons would be around. Okay, digital technology is assumed to have made everything a lot faster. But it was not around in the 1970s and earlier. How will midwives (dais) responsible for the birth of many prior to the 1970s be traced? Also, I have not heard of midwives having kept any record of the births they assisted in. With respect to those born in hospitals prior to 1971, the possibility of their certificates being retrieved from there is as good as non-existent. Besides, there is the “name” issue.

 

Nowadays, even a minor difference in spelling of names in various identity cards one is supposed to have can spell a major headache. Earlier, usually, only nicknames were decided at the time of birth. The birth certificates of many, if they exist, prior to the 1970s don’t have the same name which was later chosen formally. Most educated and urban Indians are at present loaded with too many identity cards and documents required for verification: Driving license, birth-certificate, educational certificates, passport, PAN card, bank-statement, proof of having paid income tax, voter-ID and of course the Aadhaar card. The last needs to be linked with registered mobile numbers, PAN cards, bank accounts and I am not aware if new rules would include some other documents, including verification by neighbours with documents to prove their identity.

 

It is really mind-boggling as to how many more identity cards each Indian is likely to be commanded to have. When Aadhaar cards were made compulsory, we ensured that all family members got theirs, by using the services of private agents. Since an elderly member was bedridden, the agent came home for his photograph, fingerprints, etc and his card was made. Earlier, the concerned government unit was approached to facilitate the same service. It took more than a year to respond and got in touch with us after the member had expired. This is just a mild indicator of the lapses still prevalent in the Indian system, because of which it is impossible to expect immediate, accurate as well as complete data to be officially recorded about each and every citizen.

 

This writer has also learnt of cases of the Aadhaar card displaying the incorrect gender. No person — male, female, transgender or of any gender — would like to be identified wrongly, gender-wise. Of course, these errors have been corrected but not instantly or just within a few days.

Even if the present leaders remain confident about the NRC and the CAA being prepared in 50 years, as per IST, why don’t they look into the future; and start keeping records from 2020 than waste money and time in digging up the past?

It may be wiser for the government to give some importance to keeping a record of the blood group of each citizen. It should. It must. This will save time when, God forbid, any person reaches the stage of needing blood supply. Blood group is not decided by race, religion, caste, class and/or any other ethnic division. All my family members have different blood groups. Being accident-prone, they have needed blood more than once. Who knows, which and how many Indian citizens’ blood flows through my veins? I just know that it is Indian. Only in films, siblings with the same blood group turn up to save their parent from the jaws of death and thus get reunited.

 

The unity being voiced by Indians against the CAA and the NRC cannot be taken lightly. It is a wake-up call for all, including ones obsessed by a 50-year syndrome. And this is not a laughing matter. The new generation is charting a new chapter for the coming years!

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