The unholy trinity of the National Register of Citizens-Citizenship (Amendment) Act

The unholy trinity of the National Register of Citizens-Citizenship (Amendment) Act

Ironically, the unholy trinity of the National Register of Citizens-Citizenship (Amendment) Act-National Population Register, designed to put a question mark on the citizenship of Muslims in India, has had the unintended effect of reaffirming their identity. Despite having chosen to remain in India after independence, weathering the rising tide of communalism that Partition brought, Muslims in India have always had their patriotism questioned. Most Muslim leaders the freedom struggle had produced left for Pakistan, and it is safe to say that since independence, Muslims have had no leader with a pan-India appeal.

With the rise of the political right, increasingly, the public discourse of’nationalism’ was coopted by jingoism, toxic masculinity and communalism. At each step, Muslims told to go to Pakistan and were accused of being pro-Pakistan or anti-national.

Lynchings in the name of cow slaughter, extra-judicial killings, absurd laws criminalising forms of divorce rendered ineffective by the Supreme Court, five acres of land given to compensate the irreparable harm to the secular fabric of the country caused by the illegal demolition of a 464-year-old mosque, revocation of Article 370 and the consequent clampdown in Kashmir – none of these was able to wake the Indian Muslim and induce them to leave the safety of their houses to venture onto roads that felt increasingly hostile and alien. And after that, the government went a little too much and passed a set of laws, the net effect of which is to require Muslims to establish their citizenship or face prosecution, providing all other communities a safe passing. The knife had cut too near the bone.

The protests began in Jamia Millia Islamia and spread to Aligarh Muslim University and then to the rest of the country. How the protests began in Jamia is apt and in keeping with its historic tradition. Jamia Millia Islamia was founded by Muslim leaders who felt that AMU was too colonial in its outlook and Muslims should come forward and be equal participants in the freedom movement. These leaders broke away from AMU and Jamia was set as a centre of the Non-Cooperation and Khilafat movements, with Mahatma Gandhi as its patron.

Gandhiji pledged that if need be, he would go around to fund the fledgling university. Gandhi, a Lifelong Friend of Jamia Millia Islamia The words of the’Aligarh ka tarana’ or the anthem of the Aligarh Muslim University written by Majaz Lukhnawi have proved strangely prophetic in describing the role of Jamia and AMU from the anti-NRC-CAA-NPR protests:’Jo abr yahaṅ se utthega, wo sarey jahaṅ par barsega (The cloud (of revolution) rising up from here will rain down on the entire world).’ The intention here is not to communalise and color what is quintessentially a people’s movement as a movement that is Muslim. It’s only to emphasise that for the first time since independence, Muslims have emerged on to the streets to raise their voice and claim an equal share in the political discourse of the country.

It is true that elections are not won by protests. Let us even assume for a moment that the vast majority of the people are still behind Modi and back the discriminatory law. But for the first time since the Modi-Shah combine came to power, there is nationwide opposition to their discriminatory and divisive rhetoric and policies. And this opposition isn’t by any party or person.

It’s by the people themselves. The protests are notable because of their spontaneity and lack of leadership. Student leaders, celebrities of popular culture, regional and local icons are seen floating from one protest to another, trying to find their own part in what is in the truest sense a people’s movement. The common Muslim man and woman have decided to wait no longer for this political party or that, this leader or that, to voice their concerns.

Read More

Modi govt plans national university to train IAS, IPS, IRS officers, other civil servants

Modi govt plans national university to train IAS, IPS, IRS officers, other civil servants

New Delhi: The Narendra Modi government is planning to set up a National Civil Service University (NCSU) which will oversee the training for all IAS, IPS, IRS and other civil services, ThePrint has learnt.

The proposed university is set to follow the traditional model of different schools and departments functioning under a single umbrella, and carry out research in the area of public administration and policy.

‘The idea is that there should be an overarching body that determines the curriculum, and has the bandwidth to know what changes are needed with times in training,’ said an official familiar with the plan.

‘The move will end the culture of training institutes. There’ll be a definite approach to instruction, which would be reflected in the institutes,’ the official added.

The proposal is expected to be presented to the Modi cabinet during a meeting of the sectoral groups of secretaries. It will underscore the Modi government’s emphasis on training of civil servants, another official said.

Ties in with DoPT split

As reported by ThePrint before, the government is considering establishing a Department of Training, and dividing the DoPT. The DoPT is the coordinating agency for all personnel matters — it looks after regulation of service conditions, recruitment, posting/transfers, deputation and training of civil servants.

The training division is responsible for implementing the National Training Policy, which was adopted in 1996. Its functions include sponsoring training programmes for civil servants, updating training infrastructure for government officials across the country, and organising overseas training events for civil servants.

Read More

Asia’s history of 50 years poses

Asia’s history of 50 years poses

When Gunnar Myrdal was writing his three-volume Asian Drama in the late 1960s, no one could have dreamt that Bangladesh, which was soon to endure from the deadliest tropical cyclone ever recorded, and then a liberation war, would emerge as a star economic performer 50 years later. The country that was dismissed by Henry Kissinger as an international basket case has now beaten its South Asian neighbours on both human development indicators and economic growth rates. Its per capita income of $1,905 compares with Pakistan’s $1,388, and isn’t far behind India’s $2,171.

Myrdal’s book is often referred being 2,300 pages all. However he got many things wrong, including whether population are a deadweight (now China and India owe their large internal markets to population growth), but he also got some things right (such as, initial conditions matter). And a few passages in Asian Drama read like better than journalism. However, Deepak Nayyar has chosen the book’s 50th anniversary to reevaluate Asia ( Resurgent Asia: Diversity in Development).

Nayyar’s story is nuanced, pointing to the various avenues that countries in the region followed, frequently as a consequence of colonialism’s role in opening up closed markets. Shashi Tharoor in An Era of Darkness has speculated on whether India could have made it if it had not been colonised and given that the railways and a modern government (he thinks it would have), but it is certainly true that without outside influence, many countries of the region wouldn’t have introduced land reforms. Nor were Taiwan and South Korea states that took to exports such as ducks to water; they experimented with import substitution before they realised that their home markets were too small.

How much of the’Asian miracle’ owes its success to autocratic rulers, and how were these rulers different from the current Erdogan, on whose watch Turkey’s economy has tanked? Or other autocrats like Putin, whose Russia survives by exporting petroleum, gold, coal, lumber, and armaments, while other BRICS economy, Brazil, still flatters to deceive with its small growth rates? How were Asia’s leaders of yore different from our own Narendra Modi in their understanding of what it takes to find an economy on to a higher plane?

While refusing to get into the democracy vs authoritarianism debate, other than to say that democracy is an end in itself, and that it is more conducive to checks and balances, Nayyar concedes that political democracy is neither necessary nor sufficient for economic growth. He indicates that a Weberian bureaucracy was as much responsible for the success of the leading economies of Asia. Given that the economies of Asia range from communist to capitalist, and Myrdal’s observation that the same solutions in different countries seem to produce different outcomes, should India be ready to experiment with administrative arrangements — which necessarily imply greater decentralisation?

Will this be an Asian century? Nayyar believes not, possibly because only a couple of countries in the region have reached high-income status. However, if one looks through the BRICS prism, the change in the balance of power seems a foregone conclusion. The four BRICS countries were assumed to account for half the GDP of the six major Western economies by 2025; they are already past that landmark — having got there from 15 per cent in 2003. The reason is how well the two giants have done — but their normal rivalry will prevent them from acting in pursuit of common objectives.

From the half-century since Asian Drama was written, India has missed the bus. If we now want to avoid being hauled into a Hobbesian world dominated by a couple of Leviathans, India needs to figure out whether it pays to be rule-takers or search to be rule-setters (for instance, in a regional trading arrangement). Or, do we have a response to China challenge? Otherwise, what are our choices? At the cusp of the third decade of the century, other questions and these need answers.

Read More