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History of CAA

In the previous video of the series ‘Understanding CAA’, we understood what CAA is. If you missed that video, click here. Let us now have a look at the historical background of CAA.
Crux of the Matter

India has been a home to refugees for centuries. When Parsis faced religious persecution during 12th – 16th Century, refugees from the community came and settled in Gujarat. India went through a turbulent refugee crisis during partition. Nearly 10 million people were dislodged and they became refugees migrating through the overflowing borders. The migration was a picture in red and black – massacre and violence.

It seems that people of the Indian subcontinent are still paying for the two-nation theory that created India and Pakistan in 1947. Independent India created a citizenship law to tackle swarms of illegal migrants. The 1955 Citizenship Act laid out the mechanisms for acquiring Indian Citizenship which is governed by Articles 5 to 11 of the Indian Constitution.

In 1971, Bangladesh, which was then East Pakistan, was a victim of mass genocide called “Operation Searchlight” carried out by Pakistan in order to wipe out the Bengali Movement in the state. In the 9-month long pogrom, anywhere between 3 lac to 3 million civilians were massacred and more than 10 million refugees rushed to India’s West Bengal, Assam and other nearby states as well as to Myanmar. This triggered the 1971 war between India and Pakistan which led to the bifurcation of Pakistan and creation of Bangladesh.

A decade later, the menace of Bangladeshi refugees started creeping up in the states of North East, especially Assam. In 1979 the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) started a movement to save the indigenous culture and drive out refugees, who comprised majorly of Bengalis.
It culminated in the signing of the Assam Accord in 1986 by the then Rajiv Gandhi government. Citizenship Laws became stricter with the 1986 amendment to the Citizenship Act. Individuals born in India could only be considered a citizen if either of their parents was an Indian citizen.

Vigilance on the India – Bangladesh border became stricter. In accordance to the Assam Accord, the amended Citizenship Act aimed at driving out illegal immigrants who had entered India after March 25, 1971.

The term that is creating controversy today “illegal migrants” was added to the Act in the 2003 Amendment by Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s government. Its definition was added to the Act and the following major changes were made:

  • If either of the parents of a child born in India after 2003 were illegal migrants, the child was not to be considered an Indian Citizen.
  • Between 1987-2003, Indian citizenship could be granted to a child whose either parent held Indian Citizenship.
  • Whereas, prior to 1987, anyone born in India was considered Indian Citizen.
  • Illegal immigrants could not apply for Indian Citizenship through Registration.

Dr. Manmohan Singh, then in the Opposition, criticized the Bill and said in 2003 that “”India’s stance towards persecuted minorities be most liberal.” Other amendments in 2005 and 2015 to the Bill were linked to the Overseas Citizenship Clause in the Act.

2003 Amendment also mandated Government to conduct a nation-wide National Register of Citizens and issue a national identity card to each citizen. NRC was not much deliberated after 2003 until 2008’s 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks. The Congress-led UPA Government decided to go with Aadhaar identification rather than NRC. Along with Census 2010, National Population Register was carried out. However, the UPA government did not take any steps to conduct NRC.

NRC in Assam is an entirely different issue. It has been mandated by the Supreme Court since 1986 to make sure Assam Accord gets honoured.

BJP-led NDA government’s Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019, seems like a policy that is on the other side of the spectrum when compared with former NDA government’s 2003 amendments. Attributing circumstantial elements to the different stances, this amendment eases the citizenship requirements for immigrants from certain “religiously persecuted” communities. It will not consider “illegal” immigrants who have entered India before 31st December 2014 and who are from Hindu, Jain, Parsi, Sikh, Christian, Budhha religions as “illegal” and will grant them citizenship. Furthermore, naturalization period for these persecuted minorities has been reduced to 5 years instead of 11. The 11 year naturalisation period is still applicable to every other immigrant.

Looking at the timeline of amendments, it seems that changing circumstances as well as generational demographic shifts have coincided with changes in the citizenship requirements as mandated by the government of India.

Curiopedia

Operation Searchlight was a planned military operation carried out by the Pakistan Army to curb the Bengali nationalist movement in the erstwhile East Pakistan in March 1971, which the Pakistani state retrospectively justified on the basis of anti-Bihari violence by Bengalis in early March. Ordered by the central government in West Pakistan, this was seen as the sequel to “Operation Blitz” which had been launched in November 1970. The original plan envisioned taking control of all of East Pakistan’s major cities on 26 March, and then eliminating all Bengali opposition, political or military, within one month. Pakistani President Yahya Khan at a conference in February 1971 said “Kill three million of them and the rest will eat out of our hands.” Prolonged Bengali resistance was not anticipated by the Pakistani military leaders. The main phase of Operation Searchlight ended with the fall of the last major Bengali-held town in mid-May. The operation also precipitated the 1971 Bangladesh genocide, in which 300,000-3,000,000 civilians were killed and roughly 10 million refugees fled to India. Bengali intelligentsia, academics and Hindus were targeted for the harshest treatment, with significant indiscriminate killing taking place. These systematic killings enraged the Bengalis, who declared independence from Pakistan, to establish the new nation of Bangladesh. More Info

IIT-Bombay Research Finds Evidence of River 'Saraswati'

According to new research by the Physical Research Laboratory in collaboration with IIT-Bombay has reported ‘unequivocal evidence’ of existence a perennial river ‘Saraswati’ on the plains of northwestern India which researchers find mentions in the ancient texts of Rig Veda. 

Crux of the Matter
  • The research has been published in the journal ‘Scientific Report’ of Nature Publishers which is in the public domain. 
  • According to the researchers, the river a flowed roughly along the course of the modern Ghaggar.
  • The scientists behind the study were Anirban Chatterjee, J S Ray and Anil Shukla of PRL, and Kanchan Pande from IIT-Bombay.
  • The research studied the temporal changes of sediment provenance along a 300 km stretch of the Ghaggar river basin using different dating methods.
  • The researchers provide evidence for the river Saraswati being perennial and its flow from the Higher Himalayas between 7,000 BC and 2,500 BC along which the Harappans had built their early settlements between 3,800 BC and 1,900 BC.
  • The decline of the Saraswati due to rapid drying-up of the channels led to the collapse of the Harappan civilization.
  • Research finds Saraswati’s sources in the glaciated regions of the Higher Himalayas, similar to the Ganga, Yamuna and Sutlej which is the only likely path.
  • The ancient course of present-day Ghaggar could have been through the distributaries of the mighty Sutlej River. 
  • Jyotiranjan S. Ray, explains that ‘the uninterrupted flow of the perennial Saraswati started 80,000 years ago, and continued until 20,000 years ago. Extreme aridity of the last glacial period diminished the river, only for it to regain its strength 9,000 years ago and flow freely for the subsequent 4,500 years.’
Curiopedia

Indus Valley Civilisation or Harappan Civilisation was a Bronze Age civilisation in the northwestern regions of South Asia, lasting from 3300 BCE to 1300 BCE. Along with ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, it was one of three early civilisations of the region comprising North Africa, West Asia and South Asia. Its sites stretched from northeast Afghanistan, through much of Pakistan, and into western and northwestern India. It flourished in the basins of the Indus River, which flows through the length of Pakistan, and along with a system of perennial, mostly monsoon-fed, rivers that once coursed in the vicinity of the seasonal Ghaggar-Hakra river in northwest India and eastern Pakistan. The civilisation’s cities were noted for their urban planning, baked brick houses, elaborate drainage systems, water supply systems, and new techniques in handicraft. The large cities of Mohenjdaro and Harappa very likely grew between 30,000 and 60,000 individuals. Harappa, the first of its sites to be excavated early in the 20th century. More Info

Government Declassifies 304 Files Related to Netaji Bose & Azad Hind Fauj

In a written reply in the Lok Sabha on December 2, Minister of State for Culture and Tourism, Prahlad Singh Patel informed that the government has de-classified all records relating to Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose and Azad Hind Fauj and placed them in the National Archives of India.

Crux of the Matter
  • Total of 304 records and files have been declassified and transferred to the National Archives of India by different ministries for permanent retention.
  • Out of 304 files, 303 files are already uploaded on the Netaji web portal.
  • 58 files from PMO, 37 from Home Ministry, 200 from External Affairs Ministry and 09 from Cabinet Secretariat have been declassified and brought into public domain.
  • The government had decided to declassify the file and make it accessible to the public in October 2015 when PM Modi met family members of Netaji Bose.
  • Earlier in 1997, the National Archives of India had received 990 declassified files related to the Azad Hind Fauj from the Ministry of Defence, 1030 files pertaining to the Khosla Commission in 2012. It has also received 759 files of the Justice Mukherjee Commission of Inquiry from the Ministry of Home Affairs which are already open to the public.
Curiopedia

Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose was an Indian nationalist whose defiant patriotism made him a hero in India, but whose attempt during World War II to rid India of British rule with the help of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan left a troubled legacy. Bose had been a leader of the younger, radical, wing of the Indian National Congress in the late 1920s and 1930s, rising to become Congress President in 1938 and 1939. However, he was ousted from Congress leadership positions in 1939 following differences with Mahatma Gandhi and the Congress high command. He is assumed to have died from third-degree burns received when his plane crashed in Taiwan. Some Indians, however, did not believe that the crash had occurred. More Info

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Remembering Our First Prime Minister Pandit Nehru

Curiopedia

Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru was an Indian independence activist, and subsequently, the first Prime Minister of India and a central figure in Indian politics before and after independence. He emerged as an eminent leader of the Indian independence movement under the tutelage of Mahatma Gandhi and served India as Prime Minister from its establishment as an independent nation in 1947 until his death in 1964. He has been described by the Amar Chitra Katha as the architect of India. He was also known as Pandit Nehru due to his roots with the Kashmiri Pandit community while Indian children knew him as Chacha Nehru. His birthday is celebrated as Children’s Day in India. More Info

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Celebrating Maulana Azad’s Birth Anniversary as National Education Day

Curiopedia

Maulana Abul Kalam Azad was an Indian scholar, independence activist,and a senior leader of the Indian National Congress during the Indian independence movement. Following India’s independence, he became the First Minister of Education in the Indian government. He is commonly remembered as Maulana Azad; the word Maulana is an honorific meaning ‘Our Master’ and he had adopted Azad (Free) as his pen name. His contribution to establishing the education foundation in India is recognised by celebrating his birthday as “National Education Day” across India. More Info