The CAB Battle – Who Is An Indian (Citizen)?

The feverish pitch over the Citizenship Amendment Bill has reached a crescendo. The Indian lower house of parliament has overwhelmingly passed it with it now reaching the upper house. Most likely, it will pass with the support of “neutral” parties pushing the bill over majority.

Safe But Betrayed: Pakistani Hindu Refugees in India
Pakistani Hindu Refugee Camp in Delhi. Formalization of CAB may aid these currently destitute conditions.

Under the CAB – Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, and Christians (basically persecuted communities of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh) will receive asylum and an accelerated path to citizenship.

Critics label this bill as anti-Muslim and rhetoric from certain BJP members does not help in the  defense against this accusation.

But again consistent with the common theme of international coverage of India, we are missing context (or more accurately, outlets are leaving it out purposefully).

What’s A Partition?

Not the Beyoncé song. If you have an inkling of knowledge about subcontinental history, you know about the partition and the Two Nation Theory (TNT). TNT was proposed by an Islamist ideologue named Syed Ahmed Khan of Aligarh Muslim University in the late 1800s. Muhammed Ali Jinnah ran with the idea and eventually convinced enough Muslims to vote for partition (Hindus, Sikhs, etc… were not polled for their vote). In the midst of continued violence (much of it encouraged by Jinnah’s Muslim League), the Indian National Congress would acquiesce to partition. Massive violence followed with millions of Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs dead.

Sir Syed Ahmed Khan – First proponent of the Two Nation Theory

However, while Pakistan became an Islamic state, India remained secular (though its minority appeasement down the line really pushes that definition).

India had given up 1/3 of its land to satisfy (separatist) Muslims yet still had 9% of its population as Muslims post-partition. The Muslim population in India would grow to around 15% today while a trident of partition, Pakistani civil war, and persistent persecution would annihilate the Hindu population in Pakistan and Bangladesh (From 1941 to present, the land containing current day Bangladesh’s Hindu population dropped from 28% to 9% while Pakistan’s Hindu population dropped from 14% to 2%.)

It is the shadow of partition that looms large over the CAB.

The Entry Rules?

Defenders of the CAB say it gives refuge to persecuted minorities in true Indian tradition (Baghdadi Jews, Syrian Christians, Persian Zoroastrians, and Tibetan Buddhists have all received refuge in India over thousands of years). However it brings to point the case of Islamic minorities (Shias, Ahmediyas, Ex-Muslims, etc…). Many of these minorities face horrid persecution in the Islamic subcontinental states. Why should India also turn them back?

Now is where the acceptance of partition arrives. CAB critics say by rejecting persecuted Muslims, India validates Jinnah and the TNT. I can honestly understand this perspective. Why should these Muslims pay for the sins and mistakes of their ancestors?

Portrait of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad – India’s first Education Minister and lauded Indian Muslim freedom fighter.

On the flip side, CAB supporters return with saying they are merely accepting realities. Threats of national security, demographic change, as well as a cold hard perspective that India owes nothing to those related to its partition (non-Indian Muslims) are valid reasoning no matter how un-PC they are. In addition, the CAB has no bearing on Indian Muslims.

Even deeper, CAB supporters see this as India fulfilling its duty as a refuge of Dharma in the case of Hindus, Buddhists, and Sikhs. The near complete obliteration of Dharmic religion from these lands is not forgotten and won’t be any time soon.

Perceptions

The legalese with regards to the bill seems iffy on its constitutionality. The Indian constitution bars discrimination based on religion within India. However it doesn’t bar discrimination with regards to non-Indian citizens.

India’s Home Minister Amit Shah (and probably next Prime Minister), has foreseen this. During a firebrand speech recently, Shah pointed out the litany of laws favoring minorities in India thereby showing a mirror to the Indian state’s institutional religious discrimination. This poses a major problem for the opposition. Add to the fact that the BJP has massive political capital after the Kashmir and Ram Mandir episodes, the centre possesses an insurmountable high ground over its opponents.

The dichotomy between the West’s seething hatred and doomsaying of Modi-Shah versus their ascension as India’s most powerful and popular political figures in decades is fascinating.

But what about a moral high ground?

Western media laments at how India has degenerated to fascism these days. Is this perception reality? Probably not in my opinion.

I think what irks many of these outlets is an assertive India that no longer looks for the approval of the West (or a deracinated brown sahib/a in their place).

What has caught my mind recently is how Western coverage of India is affecting perceptions of India abroad. While some saw Modi as an aberration of a “secular, democratic, and liberal” Indian ethos, now they are beginning to realize Modi and Hindutva are here to stay. Does that mean India will slide into fascism?

On the other hand, many domestic Modi supporters would say that Modi is fulfilling a “secular, democratic, and liberal” ethos that India lacked for so long under Congress rule! Of course in both of these scenarios, I am speaking of white collar middle class folks’ perspectives. Other demographics would say Modi is fulfilling his role as  a Hindu leader giving refuge to the persecuted Hindus in lost lands (this may honestly be the biggest vote catcher for the CAB and primary driver of the BJP’s push).

Then comes the thought – how will policy towards India be affected? While Western foreign policy hasn’t been egregiously affected by bipartisan slants, we are now entering a highly polarized era. The latest incarnation of Western right wing governments seem to favor India, but future demographics are hilariously skewed in favor of the left wing across a number of Western countries.

As the world becomes more globalized, it will be interesting how influential Western media outlets will be on the increasingly connected youth of developing nations including India (the caveat is India’s youth are more pro BJP than older generations). 

Yes, opinions can change as we age but it is fairly apparent that your average millennial takes the word of BBC/NYT/Wash Post as gospel.  We will have to see how a Western left wing government reacts to India, especially one whose constituency is in congruence with this “India = Fascist” narrative. Throwing in the wrench of India’s rising economic clout, these parties will have a bit of a conundrum.

Though it must be said, do that many Westerners even really care about India?

Official Indian justification and response to recent criticism from the USCRIF over the CAB

Find more about Indian, American, and Geopolitics at my blog – The Emissary. Thanks again to the Brown Pundits!

The “Same Page” saga..

Original article by Gen Asad Durrani. Comments in red by Dr Hamid Hussain. Additional comments in blue by Major Amin.

LG Asad Durrani views and my two cents in red.

Regards,

Hamid 

The Same Page Saga

Lt Gen ® Asad Durrani

The Chief of Army Staff in Pakistan is not just another head of service, nor is he, strictly speaking, a “chief of staff”; the designation that the late Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto believed would deny the man on the horseback the clout to take over the Country. His assumption went ruefully wrong when Zia-ul-Haq, his handpicked COAS, not only putsched but also hanged him. In ‘Pakistan Adrift’, an account of my journey through the corridors of power, I have tried to assess the military’s role in the Country’s polity and an army chief’s special status in the power matrix – in which he often played the ultimate arbiter. For people like me therefore the commotion over the present incumbent’s service extension in the last week of November came as no surprise. The following chronicle however is not about any technicalities of the issue at hand, but about the algorithm of this game of thrones. Continue reading “The “Same Page” saga..”

All that matters is which way you are punching

I have little value to add on the many comments around “Modi is bad to the bone” piece in The New Yorker, except that this passage jumped out at me:

Other coverage on Republic TV showed people dancing ecstatically, along with the words “Jubilant Indians celebrate Modi’s Kashmir masterstroke.” A week earlier, Modi’s government had announced that it was suspending Article 370 of the constitution, which grants autonomy to Kashmir, India’s only Muslim-majority state. The provision, written to help preserve the state’s religious and ethnic identity, largely prohibits members of India’s Hindu majority from settling there. Modi, who rose to power trailed by allegations of encouraging anti-Muslim bigotry, said that the decision would help Kashmiris, by spurring development and discouraging a long-standing guerrilla insurgency. To insure a smooth reception, Modi had flooded Kashmir with troops and detained hundreds of prominent Muslims—a move that Republic TV described by saying that “the leaders who would have created trouble” had been placed in “government guesthouses.”

From the broadly Left/liberal internationalist perspective, Hindu nationalists express a majoritarian and ethnoreligious self-consciousness. They don’t want what in India is termed “secularism” to be ascendant. I believe that some Hindu nationalists do want for India what was the original vision of Pakistan, a nation-state that has at its core a particular ethnoreligious identity (I believe this is distinct from a “Islamic fundamentalist” vision properly understood in the modern context).

And yet this passage simply glosses over the fact that legal fiat was preserving a particular sub-national identity, that of Kashmiris, the vast majority of whom are Muslims.

Browncast episode 75: Indian in Suomi


Another BP Podcast is up. You can listen on LibsyniTunesSpotify,  and Stitcher. Probably the easiest way to keep up the podcast since we don’t have a regular schedule is to subscribe at one of the links above.

You can also support the podcast as a patron. The primary benefit now is that you get the podcasts considerably earlier than everyone else.

Would appreciate more positive reviews! Alton Brown’s “Browncast” has 30 reviews on Stitcher alone! Help make us the biggest browncast there is!

Today Razib talks to Sagar Dubey about being a cosmopolitan world-traveling brown. Sagar lived in eight countries (North and South America) before finally settling down (for now) in Finland.

Razib also asks about Sagar’s impressions of India, while they also talk about how the online world has evolved over the past generation.

The Unspoken reality in South Asia

Every commentor on this blog, knows there are family and relatives and who bonk the servants or help  in South Asia.

H. M. Brough  the Bro probably would say I  am talking gibberish, i.e bonk.

Bonk  and bonk and parte.
Words are bad not the reality

Many (of my vintage) listen to Santana eg Oye Como Va
How many know the meaning.

http://sbarrkum.blogspot.com/2011/02/celia-cruz-oye-como-va-and-cubanpuerto.html

The reign of {{{Sundar Pichai}}}

Where Will Sundar Pichai Take Google?:

There were louder executives at Google. There were brainier ones. There were more aggressive ones and those who were doubtlessly better at throwing a sharp elbow, too. And many more political ones — even if those who have been running one of the world’s most powerful companies continued to think of themselves as benign, long after it was clear to everyone else that they were many things but that.

Most of them are gone. Most are as rich as Croesus. But they’re not at the pinnacle of one of the mightiest companies on the planet.

Because in the end, the nice guy — Sundar Pichai — finished first. Mr. Pichai on Tuesday was named chief executive of Alphabet, the company chassis under which the unbeatable and wildly profitable search engine lives, along with a number of other less impressive initiatives. The soft-spoken executive, who was born in India, had worked his way up a long ladder from product manager to vice president to chief executive of Google. Now this big announcement.

Page and Brin will still control the company. Pichai is the public face. A friend who used to work at Google says

– He’s not too bright
– He’s not too courageous
– He lacks deep vision

This is probably what you would expect from someone who is there to take Page and Brin’s implied marching orders.

Pichai gets compared to Satya Nadella of Microsoft. But at least Nadella has pivoted Microsoft in many new directions, fundamentally transforming the OS and productivity application company into something much more diverse.

Westernmost India

On this weblog, there is sometimes a silly debate between Hindu nationalists and anti-Hindu anti-nationalists about the scope and size of Indian and Hindu cultural spheres (the terms “Indian” and “Hindu” being interchangeable for much of history). I stumbled onto this comment from Isidorus of Charax (a Greek subject of the Parthian Empire) in his Parthian Stations:

19. Beyond is Arachosia, 36 schoeni. And the Parthians call this White India; there are the city of Biyt and the city of Pharsana and the city of Chorochoad and the city of Demetrias; then Alexandropolis, the metropolis of Arachosia; it is Greek, and by it flows the river Arachotus. As far as this place the land is under the rule of the Parthians.

Here Isidorus is alluding to the Indo-Greeks who were dominant in much of Afghanistan and Bactria to the north. “White India” in the first few centuries A.D. seems to have meant the Helmand Valley, modern southern Afghanistan.

Apparently in the Avesta this region is asserted to be staunchly Zoroastrian. Either there is confusion and misrepresentation, or, Zoroastrianism retreated during this period. Though this specific case can be dismissed, it does seem to be a fact that under the Parthians and Sassanids the eastern and northeastern fringe of the Iranian world was coming under strong Buddhist influences. In the early period, Buddhism was, of course, the “Indian religion” (just as Islam was and is the “Arab religion”), so presumably, it was a vector for Indian cultural influence.