With 53.3 million twitter followers, PM Narendra Modi is the world’s third most popular leader on Twitter. On 1st March, he made a surprising announcement that he is mulling over taking a break from social media. Later, he announced that his social media accounts will be handed to chosen women on Women’s Day, 8th March.
Crux of the Matter
Modiji – Millenial by Media He is currently active on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Youtube with a huge fan base. With this announcement, his followers are shocked, and with #NoSir and #NarendraModi trending, they are asking him not to give up social media.
In less than an hour, the tweet got nearly 62,000+ retweets with over 150K likes. Some users also speculated that his account might have been hacked. He had joined Twitter at a time when only a few politicians were active on the platform in January 2009 when he was the Chief Minister of Gujarat. Later he became the first Indian to cross 50 million followers on Twitter.
PM Modi has 44 million followers on Facebook, 53.3 million on Twitter, 35.2 million on Instagram and 4.51 million on Youtube.
Reactions to the Announcement Congress leader Rahul Gandhi took a jibe on PM’s plan and advised him to give up hatred and not social media.
Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala tweeted: “Respected Modi ji, Earnestly wish you would give this advise to the concerted army of trolls, who abuse-intimidate-badger-threaten others every second in you name! Sincere Regards, Citizens of India” Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav also tweeted: “Thinking of closing the path of social dialogue is not a good thing. There are other more meaningful things to leave.” Many of the BJP leaders like Amruta Fadnavis came in PM’s support and said they will also follow his footsteps and take an exit from their social media.
Many of his fans soon started announcing that they will also follow PM’s move while some offered possible explanations for his decision. Later in the day, it became a hot topic for memes on social media.
Narendra Modi made an announcement that his social media accounts will be handed to inspiring women on 8 March 2020, Women’s Day. He asked to share entries of inspiring women using #SheInspiresUs.
Twitter is an American microblogging and social networking service on which users post and interact with messages known as “tweets”. Registered users can post, like, and retweet tweets, but unregistered users can only read them. Users access Twitter through its website interface, through Short Message Service (SMS) or its mobile-device application software. Twitter, Inc. is based in San Francisco, California, and has more than 25 offices around the world. It was created in March 2006 by Jack Dorsey, Noah Glass, Biz Stone, and Evan Williams. As of 2018, Twitter had more than 321 million monthly active users. More Info
India is hosting US President Donald Trump on 24th Feb 2020. Indian PM Narendra Modi has put on a grand event “Namaste Trump” in Ahmedabad to welcome the US President. Will this be a major event in the long history of international relations between the two democratic behemoths?
Crux of the Matter
The Modi-Trump Bromance The middle of the 2010s decade saw Narendra Modi and Donald Trump rise as respective leaders of their nation. Both the leaders are seen as flag-bearers of right-wing populist nationalism in the wake of a globalised world. Both have had their fair share of feuds with the media and the opposition parties in their respective countries.
Tethering Old Ties Indo – US ties have been deepening for more than a decade now . The roots of the friendly ties can be found in history among common enemies or between common ideologies. However, at the time of India’s independence which coincided with the beginning of the Cold War, Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s government’s stance of neutrality was a thorn in the side of USA.
Dwight Eisenhower was the first American president to visit India. And thus began the thawing of Indo-US ties. During John F. Kennedy’s Presidency, USA started considering India as its strategic ally to combat the rising Chinese.
Chinese Communists have been moving ahead the last 10 years. India has been making some progress, but if India does not succeed with her 450 million people, if she can’t make freedom work, then people around the world are going to determine, particularly in the underdeveloped world, that the only way they can develop their resources is through the Communist system.
– John F. Kenedy
US’s military support to India began between the 1962 Sino – Indian war and the 1965 India – Pakistan war. However, it nosedived during the Nixon administration, with it partnering with Pakistan even as India’s Indira Gandhi established good relations with the Soviet Union as well.
In 1974, India conducted its first nuclear test, which led to a dip in Indo – US ties. India became the first nation outside the 5 permanent United Nations Security Council (UNSC) members to conduct a nuclear test. Jimmy Carter’s administration enacted the Nuclear Nonproliferation Act in 1978 which required countries not part of the Nonproliferation Treaty, which included India, to let the International Atomic Energy Agency inspect all nuclear facilities. India refused to sign the treaty and USA cut all nuclear exports to India.
India began its massive growth after the 1991 Liberalisation, Privatization, and Globalization policies. In 1998, India tested its first nuclear weapon, which culminated in President Bill Clinton imposing economic sanctions on India. From the early 21st century, India and US have been building good ties upon common interests such as curbing Islamic terrorism, environmental issues, and energy security.
Trade-shake Ties Trade relations between India and US have been at the centre of the Indo-US ties. , Surpassing China, US recently became India’s largest trading partner with an aggregate trade (imports + exports) of $87.95 billion. Major items that America exports from India include Informations Technology (IT) services, iron and steel products, textiles, gems and precious metals, pharmaceutical products, oil, machinery, etc.
Nuclear Notches US seemed to be apprehensive about India’s nuclear advancements. However, the 2006 Civil Nuclear Agreement allowed US to conduct direct civilian nuclear trade. The 2008 123 Agreement, a bilateral nuclear trade agreement, governed trade between both countries and allowed Indian firms to participate in US’s civil nuclear energy sector.
In 2019, India and US agreed to the construction of 6 American nuclear reactors in India as a part of “strengthening bilateral security and civil nuclear cooperation.”
Defense – X-Factor of Indo-US Ties? In recent years, Defense sector has become integral to the relation of India and US. In 2005, the nations signed the New Framework for US-India Defense Relationship that included cooperation in maritime security, disaster relief programs, and counterterrorism. United States was keen to conduct joint military exercise with India as a part of its agenda to wipe out growing Islamic terrorism after the 2001 9/11 attacks. In 2005, it joined the Malabar Naval exercise in India, and made it one of the largest naval exercises till that date.
Of the four agreements that the US signs with its Defense partners, General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA), the first, with India was signed in 2002. In 2016, the nations signed the second agreement, Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) that enables both the nations to use each other’s military bases for repairs or re-supply. The third agreement – Communications and Information Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA) – was signed in 2018 in a 2+2 Security Dialogue held at New Delhi between India’s Minister of External Affairs (MEA) Sushma Swaraj and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and counterparts US Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo and US Secretary of Defence James Mattis.
After 2008, India’s Defense trade with US ballooned to as high as $15 billion from $1 billion. India bought top-notch military arsenal such as Lockheed Martin C-130 Hercules aircraft, Globemaster, Poseidon aircraft, Apache, Chinook helicopters, Howitzer guns, etc.
Modi and US – From Pariah to Rockstar Prime Minister Narendra Modi who is seen as an assertive leader on the global scale has had a bumpy ride with the US. Due to the allegations of inciting violence on religious grounds in the 2002 Godhra case, US banned the entry of Narendra Modi, then the Chief Minister of Gujarat.
After Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister of India, US-India ties have been expanding extensively on strategic, military and economic facets. Narendra Modi after his landslide victory in the Lok Sabha elections has visited the US every year from 2015 to 2019.
Trump’s Bharat Darshan Day 1 11:40 AM – Arrival at Sardar Vallabhbhai International Airport, Ahmedabad 12:15 PM – Visit to Sabarmati Ashram 01:05 PM – ‘Namaste Trump’ Event at Ahmedabad’s Motera Stadium 03:30 PM – Departure for Agra 04:45 PM – Arrival at Agra 05:15 PM – Visit to Taj Mahal 06:45 PM – Departure for Delhi 07:30 PM – Arrival at Delhi
Day 2 10:00 AM – Ceremonial reception at Rashtrapati Bhavan 10:30 AM – Wreath laying at the samadhi of Mahatma Gandhi at Rajghat 11:00 AM – Meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Hyderabad House 12:40 PM – Press Statement at Hyderabad House (Exchange of Agreements) 07:30 PM – Meeting with President Ram Nath Kovind at Rashtrapati Bhavan 10:00 PM – Departure from India
Indo-US Relations – In the twenty-first century, Indian foreign policy has sought to leverage India’s strategic autonomy in order to safeguard sovereign rights and promote national interests within a multi-polar world. Under the administrations of Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, the United States has demonstrated accommodation to India’s core national interests and acknowledged outstanding concerns. Increase in bilateral trade & investment, co-operation on global security matters, inclusion of India in decision-making on matters of global governance (United Nations Security Council), upgraded representation in trade & investment forums (World Bank, IMF, APEC), admission into multilateral export control regimes (MTCR, Wassenaar Arrangement, Australia Group) and support for admission in the Nuclear Suppliers Group and joint-manufacturing through technology sharing arrangements have become key milestones and a measure of speed and advancement on the path to closer US–India relations. In 2016, India and United States signed the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement and India was declared a Major Defense Partner of the United States. At present, India and the US share an extensive and expanding cultural, strategic, military, and economic relationship which is in the phase of implementing confidence building measures (CBM) to overcome the legacy of trust deficit – brought about by adversarial US foreign policies and multiple instances of technology denial – which have plagued the relationship over several decades. Unrealistic expectations after the conclusion of the 2008 U.S.–India Civil Nuclear Agreement (which underestimated negative public opinion regarding the long-term viability of nuclear power generation and civil-society endorsement for contractual guarantees on safeguards and liability) has given way to pragmatic realism and refocus on areas of cooperation which enjoy favourable political and electoral consensus. More Info
2019 has witnessed some reforms centered around the Muslims of India. If Triple Talaq and Education & Haj Schemes lifted the spirits of the Muslim Community, Abrogation of Article 370, Ram Janmabhoomi – Babri Masjid Land Dispute, and Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 may have balanced out the sentiments of the community. Let us dive deeper into how different policies, acts, and decisions shaped the outlook.
Crux of the Matter
Triple Talaq Criminalised Family Affairs of the Muslim Community of India are governed by Muslim Personal Law. Triple Talaq or Talaq-e-biddat is a practice pronounced in the Sharia Law. Muslim marriages permit divorce if either spouse announces ‘Talaq’ thrice. There have been contentious issues revolving around the time that ought to be given between each announcement, the right of Muslim women to pronounce Triple Talaq, and the responsibility of the financial security of the family. Historically, Ulamas – Muslim scholars – have held opposing views about it. Some modern-day Muslim scholars have said that despite being hollow on legal grounds, this law is binding. We must note that Triple Talaq is banned in Islamic countries like Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, etc.
Supreme Court, in 2017, rendered the practice of Triple Talaq unconstitutional. 2 members, who opposed the ban on Triple Talaq, of the 5-judge bench had, however, recommended that the decision be passed as a law in the Parliament. On 26 July 2019, Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill was passed. It stated that “instant Triple Talaq” announced in whatever form – written, spoken or via Email or SMS, will be considered illegal and stand void. The husband, who announced it, could be imprisoned up to three years.
This law, on the grounds of constitutionality and human rights, was hailed by Muslim women of India. Muslim Scholars and Incumbents also welcomed the government’s decision. AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi objected to the imprisonment clause of the Bill and said that the Bill did not meet its primary objective of safeguarding women’s security, chiefly financial. The government stood their ground and said that the victimization of women would be reduced.
In a state where 67% of the population is Muslim, a chill ran across the community with the abrogation of Article 370. Some Muslims were apprehensive that scrapping of the Act would invite a lot of outsiders to settle in the state and were of the opinion that their privilege was lost in an unconstitutional manner. Whereas, some Muslims praised the decision of the government and asserted that the discrimination against them will no longer exist and their children will have access to better education and economy.
On a different note, the Indian government received criticism for the way in which the whole operation was carried out. Internet shutdown and curb on mobile and telephone services were major contentions for the government.
Do only Muslims live in Jammu and Kashmir? No Hindus? No Buddhists? Why is it viewed like that? It has been abrogated for veryone and not only for Muslims.
– Amit Shah on abrogation of Article 370
Ayodhya Land Dispute The long-standing Ayodhya Land Verdict that divided Hindus and Muslims of India came in the year 2019 with the Supreme Court stating that the land would be given to Hindus for Ram temple construction and Muslims will get a 5-acre land at a different place to build a mosque.
AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi opposed the SC ordered and said, “There has been discrimination against Muslims and no one can deny it. We are fighting for our legal rights.”. Many Muslims were affirmative about upholding SC’s decision as it was based on evidence and rationale.
Citizenship Amendment Act Interpretation of the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 and the speculation of the National Register of Citizens by some has shaped apprehension that the process is a concentrated effort to drive out Muslims of the country. The Act now provides citizenship to illegal immigrants from certain religiously persecuted minorities.
Ruling party BJP has time and again asserted that the law will not affect the citizens of India. Home Minster Amit Shah said, “In this Bill, there is no proposal to touch the citizenship of any Muslim,”.
Government Policies In the year 2019 BJP 2.0 has launched and revamped various policies for the upliftment of Muslims. In the Education sector, the government notified merit-cum-means, pre-matric, post-matric, and various other scholarships for minority communities that also include Muslims. The government also started trained more than 750 teachers from Madras so that they can also impart formal education. “Besides traditional teachings in Madrasa, Urdu, Arabic and other languages, Madrasa teachers are also being provided training for mainstream formal education like Hindi, Maths, English, Science, Computer, regional languages etc. These teachers are being provided training from reputed institutions of the country such as IIT, Aligarh Muslim University, Jamia Millia Islamia, Jamia Hamdard, Anjuman-e-Islam, Amity University and other reputed educational institutes,” said Union Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi.
Government also took interest in digitizing the entire Haj process so as to give the travelers a transparent process. India launched E-MASIHA, an acronym for E Medical Assistance System for Indian Pilgrims Abroad. It was a database of Indian pilgrims’ health conditions. A record-breaking 2 lakh Muslims had visited Haj in 2019.
Waqf properties across India were also brought under digitization by the Indian government. Government has a target of geo-tagging as many as 6 lakh Waqf properties to ensure better utilization of them.
Triple talaq, also known as talaq-e-biddat, instant divorce and talaq-e-mughallazah (irrevocable divorce), was a form of Islamic divorce which has been used by Muslims in India, especially adherents of Hanafi Sunni Islamic schools of jurisprudence. It allowed any Muslim man to legally divorce his wife by uttering the word talaq (the Arabic word for “divorce”) three times in oral, written or, more recently, electronic form. More Info
The Hajj is an annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, the holiest city for Muslims. It is a mandatory religious duty for Muslims that must be carried out at least once in their lifetime by all adult Muslims who are physically and financially capable of undertaking the journey, and can support their family during their absence. More Info
A waqf, also known as hubous or mortmain property, is an inalienable charitable endowment under Islamic law, which typically involves donating a building, plot of land or other assets for Muslim religious or charitable purposes with no intention of reclaiming the assets. The donated assets may be held by a charitable trust. The person making such dedication is known as waqif, a donor. More Info
Citizenship Amendment Act came into effect from 10th January 2020. To say, it has been a hot topic for more than a month, would be an understatement. It has had a polarising effect on politics as well as the citizenry of India.
Citizenship Amendment Act, a part of the ruling party BJP’s electoral manifesto, was first introduced in the Lok Sabha in 2016. With the dissolution of the 16th Lok Sabha, the bill did not see the light of day. It was re-introduced in the Winter Session of 2019, the year BJP came back to power at the centre with a thumping majority.
Passed by both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, the Act aims at giving citizenship to certain migrants belonging to persecuted minority communities from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Citizenship will be granted to migrants belonging to Hindu, Jain, Sikh, Buddhist, Parsi, and Christian religions. As per the 2019 amendment, now these migrants will not be treated as illegal migrants. Those who have entered India before 31 Dec 2014 will be given Indian citizenship. Refugees from these communities will, in general have their naturalisation period reduced to 5 years instead of the standard 11 years. The 11 year naturalisation period will still be applicable to other migrants.
CAA had also been announced during the Congress regime. It aimed at providing citizenship to religiously persecuted minorities. No religion was specified back then. CAA 2019 has sparked flames because of the apprehension of conducting NRC after CAA. The plan to implement a nationwide NRC has been emphasized multiple times by HM Amit Shah in the recent past.
CAA has been opposed by the states in the North East, specifically regions of Assam and other surrounding states not covered under the Inner Line Permit as they feel a threat to their linguistic, cultural and social identity. Despite ILP, Assam fears the already growing presence of Bangla speaking people, who hold various important positions in the social fabric. It is to be noted, that the amendment is not applicable to tribal areas of the North East and areas falling under ILP.
The primary opposition to CAA in the rest of India is based on the speculative fear that it will be a safety net to ensure the citizenship of non-Muslims, after which NRC will be implemented to discriminate against Indian Muslims. This fear has been stoked by certain parties in the opposition who claim that the government is taking away rights from Muslim citizens in the country. They see CAA as a threat to the fundamentals of the Indian constitution.
The opposition argues that the amendment violates the right to equality guaranteed under Article 14 of the Constitution because it provides differential treatment to illegal migrants on the basis of their religion. Article 14 permits laws to differentiate between groups of people only if the rationale for doing so serves a reasonable purpose. The Statement of Objects and Reasons of the Bill does not explicitly explain the rationale behind differentiating between illegal migrants on the basis of the religion.
The government has tried to address these fears by repeatedly stating that CAA is not applicable to Indian citizens. Prime Minister Modi has also come out and said, “The Bill has no provision to snatch citizenship from anyone but to grant citizenship only to the refugees. There is no need for Indian Muslims to live in fear.”
Citizenship in India – The conferment of a person, as a citizen of India, is governed by Articles 5 to 11 (Part II) of the Constitution of India. The legislation related to this matter is the Citizenship Act 1955, which has been amended by the Citizenship (Amendment) Acts of 1986, 1992, 2003, 2005, and 2015. Article 9 of Indian Constitution says that a person who voluntarily acquires citizenship of any other country is no longer an Indian citizen. Also, according to The Passports Act, a person has to surrender his/her Indian passport and voter card and other Indian ID cards must not be used after another country’s citizenship is obtained. It is a punishable offence if the person fails to surrender the passport. Indian nationality law largely follows the jus sanguinis (citizenship by right of blood) as opposed to the jus soli (citizenship by right of birth within the territory). The 2019 Citizenship Amendment Bill amends the Citizenship Act of 1955 to make religiously persecuted minorities, namely Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, who entered India on or before 31 December 2014, eligible for Indian citizenship. It also seeks to relax the requirement of residence in India for citizenship by naturalisation from 11 years to 5 years for these migrants. More Info
Amidst the widespread protests over the CAA, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a mega rally to begin the campaigning for the upcoming Delhi Assembly Elections and to defend the recently passed Citizenship Amendment Act. He appealed to the youth to read the Act in detail and called for peace. He asked people to “not fall prey to the rumours being spread by ‘Urban Naxals’ and Congress.”
Crux of the Matter
The PM reiterated that the Act will only apply to the people who’ve been living in India for several years now. No new refugee will benefit from the Citizenship Amendment Act.
He reassured the Muslim community by saying, “The Muslims of India don’t need to worry at all. The CAB and the NRC will not apply to the Muslims of the country. It’s a white lie.”
He also asserted that CAA and NRC have nothing to do with Indian Muslims and appealed to not trust in the widespread rumours.
The PM in his speech said that there are no detention centres in India and also clarified that no Muslim is being sent to detention centres, nor are there any detention centres in India.
In a reply to this comment, the Congress tweeted three reports quoting Home Ministry’s reply in the parliament on detention centres in Assam.
The PM accused the opposition of pursuing ‘divide and rulepolitics’ and promoting violence over the law.
The PM strongly defended the law by saying, “The law is about giving rights to persecuted minorities from neighbouring countries and does not snatch anybody’s rights.”
Launching a fierce attack on the opposition the PM said, “Mahatma Gandhi had said that the Sikhs & Hindus living in Pakistan will always be welcome in India and now that we’re fulfilling the decades-old promise, why is the opposition protesting against it.”
He also reminded that Former PM Manmohan Singh in the parliament had asked to provide citizenship to the refugees who have been religiously persecuted.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee claimed that the PM has publicly contradicted the home minister’s stand on the implementation of NRC. The PM blamed the West Bengal government for taking part in ‘vote-bank politics’
NCP leader Sharad Pawar said, ” I am surprised by PM’s comment that NRC was not discussed in the parliament whereas the President himself mentioned NRC in the joint address to the parliament.
The Citizenship Amendment Bill was introduced in Lok Sabha on July 19, 2016. It was referred to the Joint Parliamentary Committee on August 12, 2016. The Committee submitted its report on January 7, 2019. It was passed by Lok Sabha on 8 January 2019. It lapsed with the dissolution of the 16th Lok Sabha. The Bharatiya Janata Party had promised to grant citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan but not Muslims. In the party’s election manifesto in 2014, the BJP had promised to welcome Hindu refugees and give shelter to them. More Info