the fully loaded magazine
The final NRC draft of Assam was made public on July 30 amid apprehensions of law and order problems. But the mood in the entire state was largely peaceful, though sombre as around four million people have lost their right to being Indian citizens. Certain political parties are trying to poke this looming yet hung tension with the intent of exploiting the situation to their benefit. The Congress and the TMC are leading this brigade. The Congress in Assam is speaking in different tongues: while some seem to welcome the process, others in the party appear to protect the ‘illegal immigrants’. Three-time CM of Assam Tarun Gogoi has gone on record stating that the number of illegal immigrants is miniscule. But the NRC process was being monitored by the Supreme Court. Is Mr Gogoi casting aspersion on the workings of the SC then?
The TMC is leading the charge in Parliament with party leader Mamata Banerjee predicting a civil war in India on the issue. What lengths leaders can go to for political mileage!
A. Bhuyan, Nagaon, Assam
At last, the much awaited and contested NRC exercise is over. And it is nice to see the people of Assam not behaving in an irresponsible manner. The watchful eye of almost three lakh paramilitary troops deployed in not only sensitive areas, but every nook and cranny of the state has surely helped in keeping radical sentiments in check. The Supreme Court and the whole NRC team deserve praise for pulling off this Herculean task of separating the citizens from the non-citizens. I would like to share my own experience and knowledge regarding the recently conducted NRC upgradation process and the sincerity of the workers of NRC Seva Kendras. In the first draft of NRC published on December 31, 2017, eight members of my family were left out. But, after state and central governments’ clarification, and after a second time verification of documents, now we all have been successful in including our names in the final draft of the NRC. We feel much better, and safe. Though the CM of Assam has categorically denied reports that people left out by the charter will have more chances to prove their claim for citizenship, it remains to be seen what fate awaits them. Politicians like Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee are castigating the NRC process saying that it is going to displace Bengalis and Biharis in the state. Such criticisms are nothing but vote-bank politics. A citizen survey was a must for Assam. It is also a must for Bengal which has reported similar problems of illegal immigration, but Mamata seems to be least bothered about this real problem. During years of Congress rule in Assam, the issue of immigration wasn’t taken up seriously. They never paid heed to people’s grievances and resentment and never tried to resolve the ‘foreigner’ issue. The NRC survey could have been done long ago, when things were less complicated. But if the BJP thinks that the NRC will get them more votes in the coming election, it would be a wrong presumption. People are also aware of RSS tactics and the BJP government’s divisive strategy.
Ashim Kumar Chakraborty, Guwahati
Apropos of The Ra Mo Superbowl? (August 6), as an opposition party it is Congress’s basic right to oppose the Modi government’s anti-people policies. But to present their case and ask for votes, Rahul Gandhi and his party need to provide a clear narrative of what he intends to do that is different from what the Modi government is doing. This is all the more applicable to him since he does not have a major win under his belt and still has the image of a non-serious political leader. His wink after surprising Modi with a hug is the most recent example. Yes, Modi and the BJP will face anti-incumbency sentiment in 2019, but that alone will not make Rahul a winner. He needs to clearly spell out his vision for India and tell the people how his government will be different from the UPA II regime.
Bal Govind, Noida
You introduce your diarist who wrote Tarragona Diary (Aug 13) thus: “The author is a playwright, journalist, comic strip artist and writer.” I wonder whether omitting the hyphen between comic and strip might give your readers the impression that the author is a strip artist with a talent for comedy?
Geeta Doctor, On E-Mail
Coming up post-2019 polls, National Nationalists Register—to smell out the anti-nationals.
Arif P.K, Bangalore
This is about the story on the renewed demand for job and educational quotas by the Marathas (The Quota Ransom, Aug 6). V.P. Singh, former PM and the architect of the Mandal Commission, once described reservation as a “transitory demand till we achieve the objective of education and employment for all”. But some of the violent agitations for reservation based on caste, which began with Mandal, have moved from being affirmative action to entitlement for many castes, including for the Marathas, whose protests are rocking Maharashtra. The Marathas are by no means a poor or oppressed caste, but the agitation was clearly because they have not been able to come to grips with the fact that the so-called lower castes have bypassed them in terms of jobs and education at a time when landholdings are dwindling and an agrarian crisis is upon them. They are resentful that the state had granted them reservation, which was overturned by the Supreme Court. The Marathas in Maharashtra, Patidars in Gujarat, Gujjars in Rajasthan, Jats in Uttar Pradesh and Haryana and Kapus in Andhra are bound to cause disruption and disrupt the economic life of the country. Yet, let us not avoid the new quota demands; let us resolve them in a sensible manner, accommodating all interests, without creating periodic states of dysfunction in our cities and towns.
K.S. Padmanabhan, On E-Mail
The violent agitation for Maratha reservation even after the Supreme Court rejected outright reservation in 2014 is a sad reflection of the status quo. Further, with Marathas comprising 16 per cent of the state’s population, every party is bent on wooing them. This, in spite of knowing that they are fishing in troubled waters. Arson and vandalism to get attention and blackmail the state not only undermines their cause, but any move to mollify the Marathas is sure to ignite Jats, Gujjars and Patidars. One wonders why these dominant, landowning castes are demanding quotas? The government also cannot just keep on deferring a decision on this and adding to the list of OBC castes enjoying reservation. The need of the hour is political will to create more jobs rather than giving the false promise of reservation.
K.R. Srinivasan, Secunderabad
The demand for reservation by more sections in more spheres of public life is growing by the day. There have been demands for reservation in the higher judiciary as well. If these demands are conceded, we’ll even have the chief justices appointed on caste reservation one day. The next frontier might be the army I guess. It’s not easy to defuse the reservation bomb. Neither in Maharashtra, nor elsewhere. Like the proverbial genie let out of the bottle, it’s hard to put it back.
J. Akshay, Bangalore
Quota politics has become a norm in each state, aided and abetted by powerful community politicians. Like the Patidar agitation, which was forgotten as soon as the Gujarat polls got over. Similarly, the Congress government took up the issue of a separate religion tag for the Veerashaiva community before the Karnataka polls, but now that the result is out, the issue seems to have diassappeared. Similarly, there are quota demands by the Kapu community in Andhra and by Muslims in Telangana. Both demands are humoured to a degree by politicians—a trick to stoke sentiments, blame rivals and win votes. The Gujjar agitation will again rear its head in Rajasthan before the assembly polls, so will the Jat quota issue in Uttar Pradesh before 2019. Again, gullible people will fall prey to it—deaths in police firings and suicides will occur. Have we ever seen a politician risk his life in police firing?
Duggaraju Srinivasa Rao, Viajaywada
In his hurry to capitalise on the citizenship issue in Assam ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha election, a top BJP leader used the term ‘illegal infiltrator’ for all the 40 lakh residents of Assam excluded from the NRC, and called for follow-up action “without full stops and commas”. A BJP lawmaker suggested they should be shot if they did not flee to Bangladesh. The ‘nationalist’ narrative has gained so much acceptance over the decades that all Opposition parties, barring a few like TMC, do not feel compelled to take a humanitarian approach to the citizenship issue. Most media outlets have joined the political establishment to sing the same hymn of nationalism. The clash between ‘nationalism’ and ‘humanism’ is stark for us not to notice. The predicament of people rendered ‘stateless’ by the NRC is too poignant for words. It is no more enough to be Indians; it has become necessary to be “genuine Indians”. The NRI exercise created panic and instilled a sense of fear in people. Whose turn is next? Who has to prove their citizenship? How far back should they trace the family tree to establish their status as “sons and daughters of the soil”?
G. David Milton, Maruthancode
I read with interest Mr Rakesh Agrawal’s ‘indie’ solution for the Kashmir valley featured on the letters page (Letters, July 30). I think he fails to mention one important aspect: as to how the Kashmiri Pandits, driven out of their homes and forced to live in miserable conditions elsewhere, are proposed to be included in this plan. Are they to be just forgotten and abandoned?
R.N. Bhat, Ghaziabad