[op-ed snap] Citizens, non-citizens, minorities

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Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Population & associated issues

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, National Register of Citizens

Mains level: NRC updation in Assam and what repurscussions it can have on other parts of India as well as South Asia


Context

Updating of the National Register of Citizens

  1. The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, is intended to be supportive of religious minorities facing persecution in neighbouring Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan
  2. But members of those communities living in the three countries do not seem to welcome the proposed amendment
  3. There are fears that the proposed amendment would make the communities it represents more insecure, not less
  4. It would embolden political forces that would like to evict them from their lands and force them to leave Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Afghanistan and cross into India

Minority dynamics in South Asia

  1. Developments in India have long affected the plight of minorities across the border
  2. The suspicion of dual loyalty has been a persistent source of anxiety and fear for minority communities in the Subcontinent
  3. There are many instances of communal conflict in India creating a backlash against minorities in Bangladesh

What is the contention about?

  1. People whose names will not appear in the final NRC in Assam are likely to face a gloomy future
  2. They have long been subjects of suspicion of being false nationals
  3. The NRC will now officially bestow on them the status of stateless citizens or of non-citizens with no rights

Nehru-Liaquat Pact of April 1950

  1. It was a bilateral agreement between the two governments on the security and the well-being of minorities
  2. Its main goal was to reassure “minority populations of their security within the country and to discourage them from migrating”
  3. The Pact even provided an institutional infrastructure — including provincial and district minority boards — to address the concerns of threatened minorities
  4. Thanks to this Pact, large numbers of minority migrants who had crossed the Partition’s border because of communal violence felt encouraged to return to their homes on the other side

History of minority safeguards

  1. The Peace of Westphalia of 1648 — conventionally thought of as the foundational event of the modern international state system — included safeguards for religious minorities
  2. Concluding minority treaties was the instrument of choice for the protection of minorities during the early part of the 20th century when the unraveling of the Austro-Hungarian, Russian, and Ottoman empires had led to the emergence of a number of new minority situations in the reconfigured political space
  3. In the Paris Peace Conference of 1919, the great powers assigned the task of enforcing the minority protection clauses of those treaties to the League of Nations
  4. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the rights of minority communities have featured in a number of bilateral agreements
  5. The European Union also emphasizes the bilateral mode of addressing tensions arising out of the minority question

Way Forward

  1. There is an illusion of unilateralism that marks Indian policy right now
  2. Abandoning the illusion of unilateralism may be the first step in creating a durable regime of minority protection in the subcontinent
Citizenship and Related Issues
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