Archives  >  2019  >  December  >  11th

Proof Of (Being) An Indian

1. What’s the story?

The controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (CAB) sailed through Lok Sabha on Monday, and is all set to hit Rajya Sabha on Wednesday. Many people, however, are outraged

Tell me more.

The Indian Government’s official line is that the CAB is a bill that seeks to grant Indian citizenship to non-Muslim refugees, who escaped religious persecution in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan. However, protestors across the nation — from Arunachal Pradesh to West Bengal, Delhi to Tripura — think that this has a far more nefarious purpose.

“The Citizenship Amendment Bill, according to the government, is rooted in humanitarian concerns: it will offer refuge to people fleeing religious persecution.

Yet these concerns are remarkably selective, restricted to Hindus, Buddhists, Parsis, Sikhs, Jains and Christians from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. Undocumented migrants from such communities will be eligible for citizenship under the new bill.

But Muslims, such as Shias and Ahmadis, facing religious persecution in these countries are pointedly left out. So are refugees from Myanmar, including thousands of Rohingya who fled ethnic cleansing, and Sri Lanka, where thousands of Tamil refugees were forced out by civil war.”

However, on the eve of the crucial vote in Rajya Sabha, parts of India are up in arms about the arbitrary nature of the bill, claiming that it singles out a certain community for persecution — an act that goes against the central tenets of secularism present in India’s constitution.  

“Deserted roads, closed educational institutions and banks, markets and vehicles set on fire, huge processions raising slogans against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill and clashes brought life in parts of Northeast to a grinding halt in wake of the 11-hour bandh call by North East Students’ Organisation (NESO), an umbrella body of influential students’ bodies of the region.

With the contentious bill, which seeks to give citizenship to illegal migrants from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh, set to be tabled in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday, Guwahati, Jorhat, Pathshala, Dibrugarh, Morigaon and Lakhimpur in Assam simmered with protests, even resulting in clashes between police and agitators.

In Tripura, two simultaneous protests by the Twipra Students Federation (TSF) and Joint Movement Against CAB, a platform of three indigenous political parties and tribal social organisations, virtually crippled public movement for most parts of Tuesday. In view of the vociferous protests, the state government shut down SMS and mobile internet services for the next 48 hours.”
So, what now?

The bill is all set to be tabled in Rajya Sabha on Wednesday. Though it sailed through the BJP-dominated Lok Sabha with more than 300, it’ll need outside support to win over the Upper House

“In the Upper House, the NDA has 94 members and its floor managers will have to garner the support of at least 121 members to get the Bill passed. Given the BJP’s recent successes in managing numbers in the Rajya Sabha on important bills, it is unlikely that the Citizenship Bill will face any hurdles in the Upper House. 

Sources in the BJP-led NDA said they were sure of getting near 124-130 votes in the Rajya Sabha which has an effective strength of 240 members. 

The Opposition camp includes the Congress, TMC, BSP, Samajwadi Party, DMK, RJD, Left, NCP and the TRS.

The support of Shiv Sena, Aam Admi Party and some smaller parties may take (its count) near 110.”

Keep your eyes on this space. We’ll keep you updated.

2. Where else should I be keeping my eyes on?

Karnataka, that’s where. On Monday, BJP swept the bypolls in the state, solidifying the position of B S Yediyurappa’s Government, and exposing the imminent crisis of leadership in Congress.
“After the monumental mess in Maharashtra, Monday’s byelection victories in Karnataka must soothe the souls of Narendra Modi and Amit Shah. The bizarre theme in both states was, of course, defection politics, which the BJP has metamorphosed into fine art in state after state to browbeat parties and form governments.

But there is a difference: the defection game boomeranged on BJP in Maharashtra while receiving, at least seemingly, a big thumbs-up from Karnataka’s voters. Besides ensuring the continuation and stability of the BS Yediyurappa government, BJP’s victories in 12 of the 15 Assembly seats that went to byelections on 5 December are notable for two contrary things.

The defectors who won the byelections—11 of the 13 turncoats who contested won—can brag that they had only upheld the anti-defection law by resigning from their Assembly seats they had wrested on Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) tickets and then getting themselves re-elected on BJP tickets. At the same time, there are others who argue that the legislators had only poured scorn on the anti-defection law. That’s because while espousing the noble cause of democracy by resigning from their seats they caused a little inconvenience to the Congress and the JD(S). The coalition government of the two parties collapsed in July.”

3. What more?

In 2012, 17 people in Chhattisgarh made headlines for all the wrong reasons. All of them were alleged Naxals, gunned down by the CRPF in Bijapur. Now, seven years later, the verdict is out — looks like they weren’t Naxals at all, but innocent men and women — killed in cold blood

“On June 28-29 in 2012, the media flashed a story about the killing of 17 Naxalites in a CRPF encounter in Bijapur, Chhattisgarh. These news flashes were followed by congratulatory messages from the then chief minister of Chhattisgarh, Raman Singh, and central home minister P. Chidambaram.

However, in Bijapur, the atmosphere was one of anguish and despair. The communities from villages of Sarkeguda, Rajpenta, and Kottaguda in Bijapur, who had witnessed the said “encounter”, insisted that it was a case of mass extra-judicial killings. They contended that the forces opened unprovoked fire on a gathering of the three villages. Family members asserted that those killed were not Naxalites but ordinary villagers, including six minors.

A few days later, an investigative report in the Indian Express raised questions about the authenticity of the official story of ‘Naxalites killed in encounter killings’. A 12-member fact-finding team led by Congress legislator and then state Congress vice president, Kwasi Lakma, also countered this official narrative. As inconsistencies in the official story emerged, the state government set up a one-member judicial commission of inquiry to investigate the incidents of June 28-29, 2012, and appointed a retired high court judge, Justice V.K. Aggarwal, to preside over the commission.

After over seven years, the villagers of Sarkeguda, Rajpenta, and Kottaguda stand vindicated as the Justice V.K. Agarwal Commission has found no evidence that those killed were Naxalites. The commission report also states that CRPF forces opened unprovoked fire, and attacked some of the victims from close quarters with guns and sharp objects. Justice Agarwal has also stated in the report that there was “clear manipulation in investigation”.”

4. Anything else?

India’s South Asian Games (SAG) gold-winning kho-kho captain Nasreen had a dream — “the art of eluding chasers while rising to challenges life threw at her.” Here’s the story of how this flea-market vendor’s daughter harnessed the wind and emerged victorious

“Playing on hard mud surfaces, Nasreen’s early coach would ask her to train with boys’ teams, a daunting prospect given they were stronger and faster, and she was often left bruised. “’Taang pakadke giraa do usko’ (pull her down by the leg) would be the standard instruction. I got so good at running fast and diving out of their grasp, I became fearless against tough chasing packs,” she recalls.

India’s ace diver in kho-kho, who is said to escape chasers like a pashmina slides through a ring, got even better at diving when she moved from mud to the cushioned mat.

A bigger leap had been taken by the family from Shakurpur in Delhi earlier. Her father Mohammad Gafoor sells steel utensils on the streets on most days. He is at the Monday market in Jahangir Puri near Machi market, selling thick, bright winter clothing material, proudly donning the scarf Nasreen brought from Nepal’s South Asian Games.
On some days, he earns a maximum margin of Rs 30 in the weekly markets, lugging his wares – bunches of stainless steel spoons and a pack of dozen water drinking glasses.
As soon as it became clear at school that Nasreen was exceptionally speedy on the kho-kho ground (she also participated in athletics and kabaddi), Gafoor knew he had to isolate her from ordinary woes that befall street sellers – from cops and municipality officials chasing away hawkers to unsteady income on lean days. “Khaane ki dikkat, police ke dande, karza, udhaari, thelaa uthaake le jaaneka dar, yeh sab dimaag ke tension se door karna tha usko,” he explains.”

5. Is that all?

In the UK’s much-anticipated election this week, the choice is between “Labour and Leave”, and, if exit polls are to be believed, people are not quite sure which way they want to go

“Three and a half years after Britain voted to leave the European Union, Britain still has not left the European Union. Two Prime Ministers have fallen because of Brexit. Campaigners on both sides of the debate have become more, not less, dogmatic. My colleague Sam Knight recently wrote that Brexit has become a “soul-grinding shit show”—an unimprovable description.

The general election, scheduled for December 12th, is in large part designed to find a way through the impasse. If Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party wins a majority in Parliament, he will be free to pursue his government’s preferred form of Brexit. The Labour Party, under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, wants to negotiate a new deal and hold a second referendum; the Liberal Democrats want to cancel Brexit entirely. The Scottish National Party might ally with Labour if it means that they are granted a second referendum on Scottish independence. The Brexit Party, led by Nigel Farage, is spoiling for a harder Brexit.”

6. Before you leave…

Take a look at how the “climate hellscape is coming, and capitalism can’t save us.”

“In her 2007 book, The Shock Doctrine, Naomi Klein coined the term disaster capitalism, which refers to the tendency of free markets and governments to respond opportunistically to catastrophic events. This phenomenon of extreme capitalism has troubling implications when it comes to climate change … you can’t buy your way out of a warming planet.

disaster capitalism will manifest (in various ways) as weather conditions become more dire. In some places, this has already begun to happen—Kanye West and Kim Kardashian, for example, turned to private firefighters to protect their mansion from the Woolsey fire in California. And in the aftermath of the fires, an emerging market of gadgets targeted the intersection of consumer culture and catastrophe.”

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