CHENNAI, India, 25 December 2019
The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) was passed in both houses of the Indian Parliament, after a majority of the members voted in favour of the Act.
Immigrant issue started after partition of India in 1947. Several Prime Ministers in the past, including Congress Prime Ministers, wanted to regularize citizenship in India, but they were not courageous enough to catch the bull by the horns. Now, the Modi government has tackled the issue in a democratic way,
CAA was extensively discussed in both houses of Parliament, highlighting the plusses and minusses of the issue, and finally majority opinion prevailed. This is the democratic and only civilized way of taking decisions. In a healthy democracy and in orderly society, it is necessary that the majority opinion should be accepted gracefully by all concerned.
Unfortunately, some political parties and activists have wanted to defy the decision of the Parliament and have whipped up public agitation against CAA, and inciting hatred and violence to convert the issue to one of bitter confrontation. This has resulted in huge violence, and in the process tarnishing the fair image of India as a progressive and forward-looking nation in the eyes of the world.
Agitation which was supposed to have been started by the student community (obviously, a number of them are politicians in the making), has been taken over by a few political parties and section of activists, and even a section of media that are giving wide publicity to protests and not condemning the violence. It is very sad that breaking public property and setting fire to police vehicles and police stations have been described and even justified by the opposition political parties and section of activists and media, as reflecting the anger of the people, which amount to justifying the violence and hooliganism.
In recent times, it is shocking to hear some of the opposition party leaders demanding that the CAA issue should be taken to the United Nations. Obviously, they do not seem to have any sense of proportion or care, while making such a statement.
It appears that opposition political parties and some activists who could not defeat Mr. Modi in election, want to defeat him in the streets by encouraging violence. One gets an impression that they want to reap political benefits for themselves by creating a situation of law and order problem and chaos.
India consists of more than 1,300 million people. The numberof those who are indulging in violence are a few hundred. They are not a representative gathering of Indian citizens, and do not reflect the overall view in the countryman. However, a few hundreds of persons can disrupt the society and normal life by indulging in violent behaviour, particularly in a country like India where there is no clear understanding about the limits of democracy. Freedom cannot be absolute to do anything; freedom has its limits. One cannot break public property and call it freedom.
A matter of great concern is, that if mob violence would force the government to take decisions, then what will be the future of India?
Obviously this is a critical situation, and the Government of India has to act very strongly, using a carrot-and-stick approach.
While the issue of the CAA has to be explained to the people by the government, as suggested by the Chief Justice of India, those who indulge in violence should not be allowed to go scot-free.
India’s stability will be threatened if mob psychology of forcing their will on the country would become a habit, as now appears to be happening. Several projects have been stopped or suspended in India in the recent past due to public protest and agitation often supported by political parties and some activists, even though concerned authorities have carried out detailed investigation and approved the projects.
In many of such cases, state governments and sometimes central government have bowed to the will of the mob. In the process, India has lost many opportunities. This situation cannot be allowed to continue any longer.
There are millions of hard-working people in India who silently carry on with their tasks and contribute to the country’s as well as their family’s welfare. They are watching the present scenario of mob forcing decisions with great concern. A vast country like India should not be allowed to be led by a small group of violence-prone protestors and hate-mongers to force the course of events.
Government has a great responsibility to put down the negative elements with all force, at its command for the sake of long-term stability and progress of India. This would not be against the spirit of democracy but in favour of protecting the democratic spirit as well as the image and tradition of democracy.
About the author
NS Venkataraman is a chemical engineer as well as a social activist in Chennai, India. He is the founder trustee of Nandini Voice for the Deprived, a Chennai-based not-for-profit organisation serving the cause of the deprived and down-trodden, and working for probity in public life.
More articles by NS Venkataraman on Tibet Sun.