A decision without forethought
Paper: GS II
Topic: Amendment in Constitution, Important Aspects of Governance, Transparency and accountability.
For Prelims: NRC, Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019
For Mains: Government Policies and Interventions for Development in various sectors and issues arising out of their Design and Implementation
In News: In India, widespread protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), that began in the Northeast are now raging across the country.
About Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019
- The Bill amends the Citizenship Act, 1955 to make illegal migrants who are Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, eligible for citizenship.
- Under the Act, one of the requirements for citizenship by naturalization is that the applicant must have resided in India during the last 12 months, and for 11 of the previous 14 years. The Bill relaxes this 11-year requirement to six years for persons belonging to the same six religions and three countries.
- The Bill provides that the registration of Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cardholders may be cancelled if they violate any law.
The government’s decision to implement the CAA and its impact on North-Eastern States
The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) of 2019 has had huge consequences on both the domestic and foreign policy front.
Apart from being the unique region that links India with ASEAN nations, the Northeast is also the springboard for India’s engagement with Southeast Asia. This is precisely why New Delhi roped in Tokyo to fulfill its ambitious plan of expanding its global footprints via development in the Northeast.
- Investor Confidence: The government’s decision to implement the CAA has thrown the Northeast into turmoil and shaken investor confidence. From the perspective of India’s ambitious development plans and strategic diplomacy, the question that arises is whether the Central government factored in the ramifications of the CAA on India’s Act East Policy and its potential side effects on the country’s relationship with foreign stakeholders heavily invested in the Northeast.
- Impact on foreign policy:
- Indo-Bangladesh: On the international front, soon after the protests broke out, two Bangladesh ministers cancelled their visit to India.
- Indo-Japan the Japanese Prime Minister postponed his visit to the country and the annual India-Japan summit was cancelled.
- It is but natural that the CAA protests and Internet shutdowns in the region would have come as a huge shock to Japan and its investment plans in the region which hinge on stability and a business-friendly environment conducive.
- As part of its Free and Open Indo-Pacific strategy, Japan has been investing in the Northeast in a big way. Recently Tokyo decided to invest ₹13,000 crore in different projects in the Northeast.
- The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is actively engaged in building Northeast road network connectivity, water supply projects and economic modernisation of the region.
- It will be financing the construction of India’s longest bridge between Dhubri in Assam and Phulbari in Meghalaya.
- Japan has contributed official development assistance loans for the North East Road Network Connectivity Improvement Project.
- Private Japanese organisations are also financing a host of developmental projects in the region.
- Repercussions on various fronts: In case Japan has a rethink on these development projects, will it do so keeping in mind only the Northeast or the rest of India too?
- JICA is involved in various big-ticket infrastructure projects in Himachal Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Odisha, etc.
- It can boost China’s Belt and Road Initiative: the volatility of the Northeast can possibly be a setback to the collaborative efforts between India and Japan in providing an alternative to China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
- Countering China in the Indo-pacific region: Besides being a development partner, Japan is also a member of the Quad, which came into existence to counter Chinese economic prowess and unlock India’s potential in the Indo-Pacific.
- Messy diplomatic pudding: Why did the government not utilise diplomatic channels to put forth its views before the stakeholders in the international community? Clearly, the government did not take various stakeholders into confidence while taking this decision. The proof of messy diplomatic pudding is in the eating as the UN has described the CAA as “fundamentally discriminatory”. The U.S., the U.K., Canada, and others have issued travel advisories to those visiting the Northeast.
- Viewed with suspicion:
- The straining and staining India’s foreign policy. India has been described as the “Internet shutdown capital of the world”. Senior political leaders are under detention, Parliament is passing laws to grant religion-based citizenship to migrants of selected countries, and the youth of the country is out on the streets protesting.
- Will all this not shake investors’ confidence and dent the ease of doing business in India?
- The Indian economy is already going through a rough phase and the loss of investor confidence will only add to our woes.
- Every cause has an effect and that is why every government decision must be preceded by careful thought about its potential repercussions.
- Last and most importantly, when Kashmir is already volatile, can India afford to open another frontier of vulnerability in the Northeast?
- Given these considerations, the government could have done well to analyse how such a decision would affect the economic development of the Northeast.
- At the global level, India has always been respected for its diversity and inclusive character. It is because of parochial decisions like the CAA that India will now join the rank of nations which are viewed with suspicion because of their political and economic climate.
Considering the recent demand for withdrawal from Citizenship Amendment Act, various North-Eastern States now considering Inner Line permit as instinct for protection, would CAA be catastrophic for the investor environment and future of India as a secular. Critically evaluate.
Question Demand: Question demands to write about the impact CAA will left on India’s social fabric and investor-friendly North-Eastern state into an unstable region, as the recent NRC which itself sets the example of threat and restlessness.
Introduction: Mention about CAB, its need and impact.
- Explain the negative consequences of CAB on the North-Eastern States, in respect to the development projects.
- Explain that there are apprehensions that ‘outsiders’ could settle in these areas impacting the indigenous communities and local tribes.
- Explain how the entire nation’s economy could be crumbled without proper insight.
A look at the CAA shows that it is peppered with unconstitutionality, there are further consequences related to India’s foreign policy and economic instability too.