Skip to main content

Arousing Partition-like passions, setting stage for 'collision' between state and citizens

By Shantanu Basu*
In 2010, I recall the NPR enumerator, a middle school teacher, visiting our Delhi home. He carried two sets of forms - one for Census, the other for National Population Register (NPR). My Dad and I helped the man to fill in both forms, including for the domestic helps. No documents were sought nor any information on place of birth of parents, etc. was asked. We obliged the enumerator with all the info.
Since then most government services like passports, EPIC, Aadhaar, I-T returns, DBT, etc. have been digitised. The Government of India (GOI) now has unprecedented amount of data available with it. Then where is the need to seek so much info again? If there are data gaps, those can be collected by Census enumerators, unobtrusively.
Anti-Nation Register for Citizens (NRC) protests understandably have struck a raw chord among many that never worked for governments (CAA exempts them) but today must not only produce proof of their parents' (many deceased too) places of birth but also establish legal documentary proof of their relationship to the head of a family.
This, in effect, means birth/death/marriage/divorce certificates, ownership of immovable property documents (thousands held for decades together within families and repeatedly subdivided subsequently), and myriad more.
How many households in India would be able to provide these documents? Even if they did, how would verification be carried out, say for documents dating back to 1960 and before. For instance, registration of births were a rarity in the 1950s and 1960s, even until the 1970s.
Not just that; immovable property records maintained by civic agencies are still manual at least till 2000 AD. In rural areas, the problem is far more acute, compounded by illiteracy. And these info are neither religion-centric nor susceptible of online submission and verification.
Principally there is nothing wrong with creating an NPR. However, such exercise must not transfer the onus of proving loyalty to the state on citizens, rather supplement, voluntarily by citizens, data already available with GOI.
Coercion will be counterproductive, results uncertain and reactions volatile. Assam's NRC showed the debacle on its first show. If fake EPICs, PAN, etc. show up on a random sample, they could be checked using hand-held computers carried by enumerators (that presupposes that the database has sound integrity).
If GOI is honest about its intent, citizens have no reason to be apprehensive. But when it starts asking for places of birth of parents in a nation that has seen the largest mass migration in recorded history involving 14.50 million people in 1947-51 alone, GOI is opening a Pandora's box.
For citizens this is the first sign of trouble; after all, no one fancies statelessness. Again, when the GOI does not deny media reports that even passports would not be recognized for determining citizenship, that fuels greater apprehension and primes future protest. Wounds of Partition have been handed over from the 1947 refugees to subsequent generations. Where was the need to arouse Partition-like passions?
When GOI does not deny that a passport is not valid proof of citizenship, it is not only brazenly defying Parliamentary legislation but also making a statement that citizenship for all Indians is discretion than right, a totalitarian concept alien to our democratic tradition.
For now, NPR seems headed for a DeMo-like end that will again make India the laughing stock of the world
Likewise,when GOI's notified enumerators' manual clearly gives the checklist and supporting documents required for collection, its setting the stage for a collision between the state and its citizens.
Today Muslims are spearheading the anti-NRC agitation. Tomorrow when the true intent of NRC dawns, Hindus from Pakistan & Bangladesh, Sikhs from Afghanistan and Pakistan and, Tamils from Sri Lanka, all of whom made their homes in India, but whose parents (or themselves) were born in their respective nation of origin, will invariably join the mass movement. A leaderless mass movement can plunge a nation into anarchy as it can bring a new political star on the dark horizon.
How many bogus affidavits and money will change hands in this exercise is beyond any divine calculation too. Already the ex-Assam NCR coordinator is under a Rs 1,600 crore cloud.
GOI needs to tread with the utmost circumspection on NPR, instead of its present cavalier, indeed combative, manner. Our borders have major geographical aberrations but technology can ensure their relatively higher integrity as will a massive anti-corruption drive in those agencies that are involved in patrolling the international border and border fencing. No NPR can substitute for integrity of our international borders. Nor can NPR substitute for good governance.
For now, NPR seems headed for a DeMo-like end that will again make India the laughing stock of the world.
---
Formerly with the Indian Audit and Accounts Service, Ministry of Finance, Government of India. Source: Facebook timeline 

Comments

TRENDING

Top upper caste judges 'biased' towards Dalit colleagues: US Bar Association report

By Rajiv Shah  A high profile report prepared by the influential  American Bar Association (ABA) Center for Human Rights , taking note of the fact that “in the 70-year history of the Indian Republic, only six Dalit judges have been appointed to the Supreme Court”, has taken strong exception to what it calls “lack of representation of Dalits” in the legal profession and the judiciary.

Unlike other revolutionaries, Hindutva icon wrote 5 mercy petitions to British masters

By Shamsul Islam*  The Hindutva icon VD Savarkar of the RSS-BJP rulers of India submitted not one, two,or three but five mercy petitions to the British masters! Savarkarites argue: “There are no evidences to prove that Savarkar collaborated with the British for his release from jail. In fact, his appeal for release was a ruse. He was well aware of the political developments outside and wanted to be part of it. So he kept requesting for his release. But the British authorities did not trust him a bit” (YD Phadke, ‘A complex Hero’, "The Indian Expres"s, August 31, 2004)

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Whither SDG goal? India's maternal mortality rate fall target 5.5% per yr, actual 4.5%

By Srinivas Goli, Parul Puri* The maternal mortality ratio (number of maternal deaths per one lakh live births) is a key and sensitive parameter used by health policymakers to monitor maternal health conditions in particular and women's status in general in a country.

Fresh efforts to subsume Buddhism within Hindu fold 'undermining' Ambedkar

By Aviral Anand*  From Yeola in 1935, when Dr Ambedkar announced that he would not die a Hindu, to Nagpur in 1956 when he converted to Buddhism, is a considerable distance in time. But, there was in him a need to make a public announcement in 1935 about moving away from Hinduism. 

How green revolution led to 'deterioration' of Punjab economy, land, air and water

By Dr Gian Singh*  A recent research paper, based on a survey of 320 farming families in four districts of Punjab, has tried to show that high crop densities and the use of inputs have led to degradation of land, air, water and humans through a rich agricultural structure. Although mechanization has increased agricultural productivity, it has also caused environmental degradation.

Savarkar 'opposed' Bhagat Singh's, Netaji's dream of India, supported British war efforts

By Shamsul Islam* In a shocking development, the student wing of the RSS put the busts of martyrs Bhagat Singh and Subhash Chandra Bose with Savarkar's on one pedestal at the University of Delhi late in the night on August 20, 2019. Bhagat Singh sacrificed his life for a socialist-democratic-secular republic and Netaji raised Azad Hind Fauj (INA) consisting of people of all religions and regions for armed liberation of India.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Reverse progress in fight against hunger? 15.3% of India undernourished: GHI

By Harchand Ram*  Every year October 16 is observed as World Food Day to celebrate the date of the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. In the year 2021, the theme for World Food Day is “Our actions are our Future-Better Production, better nutrition, a better environment, and a better life”.

Abysmal deficit of water, food waste recycle treatment 'impacting' Chennai life

By Simi Mehta*  We are living in a state where the most basic needs like food and water are not assured to the people residing in the urban areas, which account for the biggest sources of food and water wastage. Socio-economic inequality in society which is pervasive in urban areas is one of the main reasons for this.