The Irony of India’s “Secularism”

The Citizen Amendment Act (CAA), or as I like to call it the Catastrophic Abysmal Act, is Prime Minister Modi’s latest strategy to keep up his bromance with President Trump. Amended from the Citizenship Act of 1955, the CAA, passed in December 2019, claims to support religious minorities in South Asia by providing a pathway to citizenship for Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Parsi, Jain and Christian minorities fleeing persecution from Muslim-dominated countries. The amendment states that any religious minority is eligible for Indian citizenship if they entered India by Dec. 31, 2014, notably leaving out Muslims. This sparked a vast array of protests among all 1.3 billion people across all 1.269 million square miles of land in opposition to the CAA. 


Most supporters believe that Modi has probable cause to ration out the Muslims facing persecution, basing their argument on the creation of Pakistan. During the British Raj, there wasn’t a concept of two separate countries divided by faith, but the end of the Crown in India led to the start of Pakistan, a country built exclusively for religious independence from the Hindus. 


Today, the main controversy is, if minorities are fleeing Islamic countries, then why must India support assimilating more Muslims into the country? The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) doesn’t realize that Ahmadiyya and Shia Muslims in Pakistan and Rohingya Muslims in Burma face violent discrimination every day. Not to mention, the millions of other Muslims segregated for upholding values of a true democracy. 


Ironically, India fails to acknowledge the discrepancy in its new policy. Aljazeera, a Qatari television news channel, stated  “[Modi’s policies] undermine the country’s secular constitution.” 


India’s 42nd Amendment identifies itself as a secular country, but fails to uphold its constitution when it comes to Muslims. India clearly doesn’t account for the millions of Muslim minorities in their backyard when advancing a democracy. 


Unfortunately, it is circumstances like these that bring people together. The CAA sparked protests across the entire nation, specifically student-led protests on college campuses. Among one of the most recent protests at Jamia University in Delhi, shots were fired in retaliation to the demonstrations. According to NDTV, India’s leading media company, the shooter was “heard saying: ‘Hamare desh mein sirf Hinduon ki chalegi aur kisi ki nahi’ (in our country, only Hindus will prevail).”


This is what Mahatma Gandhi’s India has come to in 2020. The very Hindu’s that advocate Ahimsa (nonviolence) are leading violent attacks on civilians of the country that are doing nothing else but upholding Gandhi’s values. 


The CAA not only incentivized protests in India, but around the globe as well, especially from Asian-Americans within the U.S. Leaders here are using their voices to promote change in the subcontinent. There have been over 30 demonstrations across the country calling for the repeal of the CAA. Students on college campuses nationwide are spreading the message and raising awareness to vocalize their opinion against the new policy. I encourage NSU to do the same. 


As a Hindu-American growing up in the U.S., I have immense pride that students — not just in India, but around the world — are raising concern over this huge violation of human rights. It gives me optimism for the future. However, I am equally embarrassed about the status quo of the subcontinent. It is imperative for Prime Minister Modi to let go of his bromance with President Trump and instead focus on the future of the nation. 

Written: Navya Mehta

Photo: N. Ahmed

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