Citizenship and Related Issues

Jul, 20, 2019

Explained: Can India really deport illegal immigrants after the final NRC list?



  • Recently Home Minister in Rajya Sabha informed that the government would deport illegal immigrants from “every inch of the country’s soil”.
  • This comes weeks ahead of the scheduled publication of the final National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam.

NRC Issue: Quick Recap

  • As per directions of the SC, the Registrar General of India (RGI) published the final draft list of NRC on July 30 last year.
  • It aimed to segregate Indian citizens living in Assam from those who had illegally entered the State from Bangladesh after March 25, 1971.
  • Nearly 40 lakh people were excluded from Assam’s final draft published last year.
  • The NRC is fallout of the Assam Accord, 1985. As many as 36 lakh of those excluded have filed claims against the exclusion, while four lakh residents haven’t applied.
  • There are around 4 lakh residents who haven’t filed claims against their exclusion from the final draft of the NRC.

How many face deportation?

  • The number of people being left out of the NRC is not yet final, and it is not clear if any of them can be deported at all.
  • The final draft NRC had left out 40 lakh applicants. Another 1 lakh, originally among the 2.89 crore included in that draft, were removed after subsequent verification.
  • There could be more deletions as objections have been filed. There are likely be some additions, too.
  • The final NRC is scheduled on July 31. Those left out will have a series of options for appeal, which is a long haul.
  • Only after that will the question of deportation come up, if at all.

What makes deportation so uncertain?

  • For a country to be able to deport a mass of individuals to another country, the second country has to accept that they were its citizens who entered the first country illegally.
  • According to government data until February 2019, Assam has since 2013 deported 166 persons (162 “convicted” and four “declared”) including 147 to Bangladesh.
  • The NRC context is vastly different: this is not about a few hundred but lakhs of individuals, many of whom have lived in Assam for decades and been identifying themselves as Indian citizens.

Bangladeshi un-acceptance

  • Over the years, Bangladeshi leaders have frequently been quoted in the media as denying the presence of its nationals in India.
  • Besides, there have been no visible recent efforts by India to push the matter with Bangladesh.
  • In fact, India is understood to have conveyed to Bangladesh, just before the final draft NRC was published, that there was no talk of deportation.
  • This was an effort directed at addressing a friendly neighbour’s concerns about the prospect, even if it was a theoretical one, of being flooded with a mass of deportees.

If not deportation, then what?

  • The various points of appeal imply that the process of establishing citizenship or illegal stay in Assam could take years, if not decades.
  • First, there are the quasi-judicial Foreigners Tribunals, which those left out of the final NRC will approach.
  • If their claim is rejected again, they have the option of approaching the High Court and the Supreme Court.
  • In between, there is the prospect of being sent to one of the six existing detention camps, or one of the 10 being planned.
  • These have often come into focus for lack of basic facilities, and the apex Court recently allowed conditional release of those who have completed three years in detention, against a bond.

Way Forward

  • For lakhs of people, what the future holds is uncertain as ever.
  • Only a long court battle is certain, while a stateless identity with curtailed rights is a possibility.
  • Deportation, if it ever happens, appears a long way away.
  • The deportation to detention camps is very inhumane. They should be given basic human rights.
  • Identity of such persons should be digitally recorded and they should not be allowed to claim Indian citizenship in other states.
Jul, 02, 2019

Explained: Register of Indigenous Inhabitants of Nagaland (RIIN)


  • Four years after Assam started revising the National Register of Citizens (NRC), the Nagaland government has initiated a move to implement its own version of citizenship register, albeit only for indigenous communities of the state.

Register of Indigenous Inhabitants of Nagaland (RIIN)

  • The Government of Nagaland has decided to set up a Register of Indigenous Inhabitants of Nagaland (RIIN) with the aim of preventing fake indigenous inhabitants’ certificates.
  • The RIIN will be the master list of all indigenous inhabitants of the state.

How will the list be prepared?

  • The RIIN list will be based on “an extensive survey”.
  • It will involve official records of indigenous residents from rural and (urban) wards and would be prepared under the supervision of the district administration.
  • The preparation of the list will start from July 10, 2019, and the whole process will be completed within 60 days from the start.
  • Designated teams of surveyors will be formed within seven days from the date of publication of the notification, and thereafter these teams will be sent across each village and ward.
  • The database will note each family’s original residence, current residence as well as the concerned Aadhaar

What is the review procedure?

  • Respondents will be given an opportunity to make their case before the authorities.
  • Eventually, respective Dy. Commissioners will adjudicate on the claims and objections based on official records and the evidence produced.
  • This process will be completed before December 10, 2019.

Unique identity through Indigenous Inhabitant Certificate

  • Based on the adjudication and verification, a list of indigenous inhabitants will be finalised and each person will be given a unique ID.
  • The final list or the RIIN will be created and its copies will be placed in all villages and ward.
  • Electronic copies of the list will also be stored in the State Data Centre. A mechanism or electronic and SMS-based authentication will be put in place.
  • All indigenous inhabitants of the state would be issued a barcoded and numbered Indigenous Inhabitant Certificate.
  • The process will be conducted across Nagaland and will be done as part of the online system of Inner Line Permit (ILP), which is already in force in Nagaland.

The Inner Line Permit (ILP)

  • ILP is an official travel document required by Indian citizens residing outside certain “protected” states while entering them.
  • The ILP is issued by the Govt. of India and is obligatory for all those who reside outside the protected states.
  • With the ILP, the government aims to regulate movement to certain areas located near the international border of India.
  • ILP’s origin dates back to the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulations, 1873, which protected the British Crown’s interest in tea, oil and elephant trade.
  • It prohibited “British subjects” or Indians from entering into these protected areas.
  • After Independence, in 1950, the word “British subjects” was replaced by Citizens of India and the focus of the ban on free movement was explained as a bid to protect tribal cultures in northeastern India.

How will be the process monitored?

  • The entire exercise will be monitored by the Commissioner of Nagaland.
  • In addition, the state government will designate nodal officers of the rank of a Secretary to the state government. Their role will be to monitor the implementation.
  • However, they will have no say in the adjudication process.
  • The nodal officers will submit monthly reports of their visits and their assessments to a permanent committee set up under the Home Department to monitor the whole exercise.

How will the RIIN be updated?

  • Once the RIIN is finalised, no fresh indigenous inhabitant certificates will be issued except to newborn babies born to the indigenous inhabitants of Nagaland.
  • In case anyone who is left out of the RIIN, he/she will need to file an application before Home Commissioner who will get the matter verified and take necessary action for updating the RIIN if needed.
Jun, 15, 2019

E-Foreigner Tribunal (e-FT)


  • The Centre has approved setting up of e-Foreigner Tribunal (e-FT) in Assam.

E-FT System

  • Aim: To maintain a statewide bio-metric and biographic data and to capture the illegal migrants’ data to computerize data flow for all the stakeholders.
  • The proposed integrated e-FT IT system will be implemented across Assam for effective monitoring and resolution of cases registered with Foreigner Tribunal.
  • The main objective of the project is to maintain a statewide bio-metric and biographic data, to capture the illegal migrants’ data to computerize data flow for all the stakeholders.
  • It will also help in the legalization of eligible beneficiaries for welfare schemes.
  • The new IT system will not only strengthen the Judiciary in the disposal of cases but also help Police organization in faster detection, prosecution and detention.
  • This will enhance the transparency of case disposal process.  It will also help in legalization of eligible beneficiaries for welfare schemes.
Jun, 12, 2019

Windrush Scheme


  • UK has issued another personal apology for the Windrush scandal, involving migrants being wrongly denied their British citizenship rights.
  • A latest official update revealed that hundreds more Indians were confirmed as British Citizens.

Windrush Scheme

  • The Windrush Scheme enables Commonwealth citizens, their children, and some other long term residents of the UK to obtain documentation confirming their status free of charge.
  • The Windrush generation refers to citizens of former British colonies who arrived before 1973, when the rights of such Commonwealth citizens to live and work in Britain were substantially curtailed.
  • While a large proportion of them were of Jamaican/Caribbean descent who came on the ship Windrush, Indians and other South Asians were also affected by the UK government’s handling of their immigration status.
  • A total of 737 Indians have been able to confirm their status in the wake of the scandal involving Commonwealth nationals wrongly denied their citizenship rights in Britain.
  • A majority of them (559) had arrived in the UK before 1973, when the immigration rules had changed, while the others either arrived later or were a family member of the so-called “Windrush generation”.
Jun, 10, 2019

Foreigners Tribunals


NRC Issue: Quick Recap

  • The MHA has sanctioned around 1,000 Tribunals to be set up in Assam in the wake of publication of the final NRC by July 31.
  • As per directions of the SC, the Registrar General of India (RGI) published the final draft list of NRC on July 30 last year.
  • It aimed to segregate Indian citizens living in Assam from those who had illegally entered the State from Bangladesh after March 25, 1971.
  • Nearly 40 lakh people were excluded from Assam’s final draft published last year.
  • The NRC is fallout of the Assam Accord, 1985. As many as 36 lakh of those excluded have filed claims against the exclusion, while four lakh residents haven’t applied.
  • There are around 4 lakh residents who haven’t filed claims against their exclusion from the final draft of the NRC.

What is Foreigners Tribunal?

  • With Assam’s NRC as the backdrop, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has laid out specific guidelines to detect, detain and deport foreign nationals staying illegally across the country.
  • The MHA has amended the Foreigners (Tribunals) Order, 1964, and has empowered district magistrates in all States and UTs to set up tribunals to decide whether a person staying illegally in India is a foreigner or not.
  • Earlier, such powers to constitute tribunals vested with the Centre only.

Why need such tribunals?

  • The foreigners tribunals are quasi-judicial bodies, unique to Assam, to determine if a person staying illegally is a “foreigner” or not.
  • In other parts, once a ‘foreigner’ has been apprehended by the police for staying illegally, he or she is produced before the local court under the Passport Act, 1920, or the Foreigners Act, 1946.
  • The punishment ranges from imprisonment of three months to eight years.
  • Once the accused have completed the sentence, the court orders their deportation, and they are moved to detention centres till the country of origin accepts them.

The amendment

  • The 1964 order on Constitution of Tribunals said: “The Central Government may by order, refer the question as to whether a person is not a foreigner within meaning of the Foreigners Act, 1946 to a Tribunal to be constituted for the purpose.
  • The amended order issued says – “for words Central Government may,’ the words ‘the Central Government or the State Government or the UT administration or the District Collector or the District Magistrate may’ shall be substituted.”

Impact of the Amendment

  • The amended Foreigners (Tribunal) Order, 2019 also empowers individuals to approach the Tribunals.
  • Earlier only the State administration could move the Tribunal against a suspect, but with the final NRC about to be published and to give adequate opportunity to those not included, this has been done.
  • If a person doesn’t find his or her name in the final list, they could move the Tribunal.
  • The amended order also allows District Magistrates to refer individuals who haven’t filed claims against their exclusion from NRC to the Tribunals to decide if they are foreigners or not.
  • Opportunity will also be given to those who haven’t filed claims by referring their cases to the Tribunals.
  • Fresh summons will be issued to them to prove their citizenship.
May, 22, 2019

Decision of Foreigners Tribunal Will Prevail Over NRC Order


  • The Supreme Court has held that a tribunal’s order declaring a person as an illegal foreigner would be binding and prevails over the government decision to exclude or include the name from the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam.

Decision of Foreigners Tribunal >> Govt. Decision

  • The judgment said that the principle of ‘res-judicata’ (a judicially decided issue cannot be re-agitated) would apply on the decision of foreigners tribunal.
  • A person who has been declared an illegal immigrant cannot seek re-decision in normal circumstances.
  • The bench distinguished between the decisions of NRC and of foreigners tribunals and said that the latter’s order being the quasi-judicial one would prevail.
  • The court, however, said the persons whose names are not included in the NRC in Assam can produce documents including the ones related to family tree and seek review of the tribunals decision.
  • The court had said that it cannot create an appellate forum for those, declared as illegal foreigners by a tribunal, by using its power under Article 142 of the Constitution.
May, 10, 2019

Home Ministry terminates 'Black List' of Indian-origin people


  • The Home Ministry has decided to discard its ‘Black Lists’ of Indian-origin people.

What is Black List?

  • The list mostly is comprised of the names of people belonging to the Sikh Community, who have taken asylum abroad under the plea of alleged persecution in India.
  • The list is maintained by Indian missions abroad.
  • The Indian-origin people who took asylum abroad under the plea of alleged persecution in India are included in the list.
  • Those who are in the Black list are denied visa services by Indian missions and posts.

Implications of the move

  • As per Home Ministry officials, all such people presently in the blacklist will be given regular visa as well as Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cards.
  • Indian missions and posts abroad will no longer be required to maintain any such local lists, known as ‘Black lists’.
  • All such Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) and their families who are not in the main adverse list of the government will now be granted a visa and consular services at par with foreigners of that country.
  • In another decision, the MHA also delegated the Foreigners Regional Registration Officers (FRROs) to grant permits to foreigners to visit protected and restricted area in the country.
  • The state governments along with FRROs will now to be able to grant permits for travel other than tourism in areas that were hitherto restricted areas.


  • Some areas in North-Eastern states, J&K, Himachal Pradesh and a few islands in Andaman and Nicobar islands are currently under restricted and protected areas.
  • Foreigners are required to take special permissions to visit such places.
May, 04, 2019

SC view on foreigner’s detention defies constitutional obligations


  • CJI in a statement had ordered greater detention of suspected foreigners in Assam.
  • The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) has said the apex court’s remark was unfortunate and flies in the face of India’s constitutional and international obligations.

Statelessness cited by CHRI

  • CHRI argued that accounts from Assam indicate “arbitrariness and not rule of law” is often used to define those who came post 1971 from Bangladesh — of whatever religious denomination — and those who are Indian nationals.
  • Lakhs are in limbo and now fear that they may become “stateless” because of a process that is mired in a mix of complexity, confusion, lack of precision and prejudice.
  • The Supreme Court needs to reaffirm India’s constitutional and international obligations to rights on complex issues of nationality, detention and deportation and not be unmindful of its own commitment to these duties.

Inability to deport

  • CHRI referred to Article 21 which that no person in India can be deprived of her/his right to life and liberty without due process.
  • There is no deportation agreement with Bangladesh.
  • International law lays down that such deportations can take place only with the consent of the country of origin.
  • Bangladesh has consistently refused to accept that its citizens migrate in large numbers to India.
  • Indeed, Bangladesh regards such unilateral efforts as harmful to a bilateral relationship that is critical for the security and stability of both countries and especially of our eastern region.

What India cannot do?

  • We cannot place ourselves in a situation where we are seen as forcing people out at gunpoint; it would be ethically unjust, wrong in law and draw international condemnation.
  • Any method used must be undertaken within the rule of law frame, be just and fair and designed to minimize individual hardship and tragedy.
  • This is a tragedy of growing intensity which is gathering momentum as a result of the current National Register of Citizens (NRC) exercise in Assam.
  • Many of those at risk of being marked foreigners were from the bottom of the economic pyramid, unable to sustain the complex adjudication process needed to establish their citizenship.

Way Forward

  • Inability to address this critical situation adequately and justly would be seen internationally as a gross violation of human rights and a blot on India’s traditional record.
  • The social fault lines could be exacerbated by insensitive handling that could leave many people desperate, particularly youth, with the potential of radicalization.
  • The Court needs to reaffirm India’s constitutional and international obligations to rights on complex issues of nationality, detention and deportation and not be unmindful of its own commitment to these duties.
May, 02, 2019

[op-ed snap] The smokescreen of an infiltrator-free India


The real aim of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill is to segregate non-citizens on the basis of religion.

Background of NRC

  • At present, Assam is the only State in the country to have an NRC, which was compiled way back in 1951.
  • The process of updating the 1951 NRC in Assam has been on since 2015 under constant monitoring by the Supreme Court.
  • The complete draft of the updated NRC in Assam published on July 30, 2018 excluded the names of over 40 lakh of the total 3.29 crore applicants.
  • The Supreme Court has fixed July 31 for publication of the final NRC list after disposal of all claims and objections.

No definition of infiltrators

  • The ideological position of the ruling party is that undocumented immigrants belonging to Hindu and other religious minority groups in these three countries cannot be treated as “illegal migrants” in India and need to be granted citizenship, while the Muslims among them are “infiltrators” must be identified and driven out.
  • This is an attempt to manufacture consent of the people on the definition of “infiltrator” according to the ideological lexicon of the saffron party.

The problem of the cut-off date

  • If the cut-off date is going to be different from that taken for updating the NRC in Assam, what will be the legal status of those included in the updated register in Assam in the rest of the country, and vice versa?
  • The cut-off date for updating the NRC in Assam is March 24, 1971, which is also the cut-off date in the Assam Accord for implementation of the core clause, Clause 5, which calls for identification, deletion of names and expulsion of “illegal migrants” from Bangladesh, irrespective of their religion.
  • Updating the NRC in Assam on the basis of this core clause led to a broad political consensus in the State that the updated register will be a critical document for implementing this clause and addressing the apprehension of the Assamese and other ethnic communities in the State of losing their linguistic, cultural and ethnic identities due to unabated migration from Bangladesh.
  • The Assam government recently informed the Supreme Court that it has submitted a ₹900 crore proposal to the Ministry of Home Affairs for sanctioning 1,000 Foreigners Tribunals to decide the cases of those to be excluded from the final NRC list. The State has a hundred Foreigners Tribunals at present.


The smokescreen of an infiltrator-free India without explicitly defining an infiltrator will not be able hide the real threat posed to the country’s secular fabric. If the Bill is made into an Act, it poses the threat of abusing the NRC to divide people on religious lines. The country can ill afford such a divisive agenda.


Mar, 21, 2019

Mizoram passes bill to detect “illegal migrants”


Mains Paper 1: Social Issues | Population & associated issues

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: National Register of Citizens (NRC)

Mains level: Turmoil over citizenship in North East


  • Mizoram Assembly has passed a bill that seeks to detect “illegal migrants” at the village and town level and bring in punitive measures for those making a false statement during the exercise.

The Mizoram Maintenance of Household Register Bill, 2019

  • The bill is aimed at Chakma residents, who are often suspected to be illegal migrants from neighbouring Bangladesh.
  • It shall be the responsibility of every householder as well as every member of household in the state to furnish all such information, particulars and passport-size photographs of the members of the household as may be required by the registering authorities reads the bill.
  • The Bill further states that once the information prescribed by the state government is received, the concerned registering authority will compile the details in two distinct registers- one for the citizen residents and another for non-citizen residents of a village/area/town.
  • Information furnished by individuals for the registers would be verified and counter-signed by the president of the local branch of the state-level NGOs as may be designated by the state government from time to time.
  • The Bill says that all government departments and police may use the household registers for administrative purposes, during implementation of development schemes and law enforcement.

Why such move?

  • Influx of foreigners into Mizoram through its porous borders has remained a serious concern for several decades.
  • Mizoram has 510-km unfenced borders with Myanmar and 318-km with Bangladesh.
  • In many cases the benefit of development and welfare programmes are found eaten away to a large extent by such foreigners who clandestinely stayed back and got assimilated in the people.
Feb, 26, 2019

Explained: PRC Issue


Mains Paper 1: Social Issues | Population & associated issues

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: PRC, Various tribes mentioned

Mains level: Row over PRC



  • Violence erupted in the state over Arunachal Pradesh government’s proposal to grant permanent resident certificate (PRC) to six non-tribal communities.
  • The state government announced it was considering issuing PRC to six non-Arunachal Scheduled Tribes (APSTs) communities.
  • There is resentment among several community-based groups and organisations who feel the rights and interests of indigenous people will be compromised.

Permanent Resident Certificate

  • Permanent resident certificate is a legal document issued to Indian citizens that serves as evidence of residence and is required to be submitted as residential proof for official purpose.
  • It is a domicile certificate otherwise called as Permanent Residence Certificate (PRC) to the residents of the state who stayed therein over a period.
  • Those citizens who are not currently residing in the state but are sure of permanently staying therein can also apply for it.
  • Besides the permanent residence certificate, the State also offers Temporary Residence Certificate (TRC) for those who reside in the State on a temporary basis.
  • It enables the citizens to avail various policies and claims made in their particular state.

Communities under Proposal

  • The government in the state is considering issuing the certificate to the six non-APSTs communities living in Namsai and Changlang districts and to the Gorkhas living in Vijaynagar.
  • Amongst those communities are Deoris, Sonowal Kacharis, Morans, Adivasis and Mishings.
  • Most of these communities are recognised as Scheduled Tribes in neighbouring Assam.

Who gets PRC in Arunachal Pradesh?

  • Communities listed as Arunachal Pradesh Scheduled Tribes (APST) have been given PRC status.
  • This is because they are considered the original natives of the state.
  • Several other communities have been demanding the status to get domicile-linked benefits.
  • These non-APST communities say that while their names are on land records, they do not get “pattas” (ownership documents).

What is the main bone of contention?

  • The non-APST communities have a sizeable population in neighbouring Assam and enjoy domicile-linked rights in that state.
  • Many of these communities are recognised as STs in Assam, while Morans and Adivasis come under the Other Backward Classes category in Assam.
  • They say that they should have the same rights in Arunachal Pradesh; the APST communities are opposed to this.

Why do APST communities not want other communities to get PRC?

  • APST communities say that giving other communities PRC will dilute the Bengal Eastern Frontier (Regulation) Act 1873, which says that all non-residents and visitors to Arunachal Pradesh must get a permit to travel to the state and stay there.
  • The APST communities say that allowing residency to other communities will lead to many non-tribals entering the state.
Feb, 05, 2019

[op-ed snap] A national register of exclusion


Mains Paper 2: Social Justice| I Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Basic knowledge of the National Register of Citizens.

Mains level: The news-card analyses the issues and concerns with NRC, in a brief manner.


  • By requiring long-term residents of Assam to prove their citizenship by negotiating a thicket made up of opaque rules and an uncaring bureaucracy, the Indian state has for the past two decades unleashed an unrelenting injustice on most of its vulnerable people.

Distressing cycle

  • The official presumption that they are foreigners has reduced several million of these highly impoverished, mostly rural, powerless and poorly lettered residents to a situation of helplessness and penury.
  • It has also caused them abiding anxiety and uncertainty about their futures.
  • They are required to persuade a variety of usually hostile officials that they are citizens, based on vintage documents which even urban, educated, middle-class citizens would find hard to muster.
  • Even when one set of officials is finally satisfied, another set can question them.
  • Sometimes the same official is free again to send them a notice, starting the frightening cycle afresh.

Issue with National Register of Citizens (NRC)

  • It emerged that the names of many persons were dropped from the draft NRC only because of minor differences in the spelling of Bengali names in English in different documents.
  • Several instances were encountered where the variation of a single letter, for example between Omar and Onar, was enough to rule that a person is a foreigner.
  • Likewise, the rural unlettered are typically vague about their dates of birth.
  • A person could be excluded from citizenship if she told the tribunal that she was 40 when her documents recorded her to be 42.

Tougher on women

  • Women are especially in danger of exclusion from the citizenship register.
  • Typically, they have no birth certificates, are not sent to school, and are married before they become adults.
  • Therefore, by the time their names first appear in voters’ lists, these are in the villages where they live after marriage, which are different from those of their parents.
  • They are told that they have no documents to prove that they are indeed the children of the people they claim are their parents.
  • There were cases of being excluded from citizenship on this ground alone.

Migrant workers

  • Impoverished migrant workers often travel to other districts of Assam in search of work, as construction workers, road-builders and coal-miners.
  • In the districts to which they migrate, the local police frequently record their names as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.
  • The police then mark them out as illegal immigrants.
  • They receive notices from foreigners’ tribunals located in districts where they might have worked years earlier, far away from their home districts they have to travel to for every hearing, adding further to their costs.

“Doubtful voters”

  • The NRC is not the only institution through which the state challenges them to prove their citizenship.
  • A second process began in the mid-1990s when the then Chief Election Commissioner T.N. Seshan, as a one-time measure, directed officials to identify “doubtful voters” by marking a “D” against their names on the voters’ list.
  • This would temporarily bar them from voting or standing for elections, until an inquiry was completed.

Temporary measure became permanent

  • The power was vested permanently with junior officials who could doubt the citizenship of any person at any time without assigning any reason.
  • Those with the dreaded “D” beside their names had no recourse for appeal under the rules, with years passing without any inquiry.
  • The “D” also debarred them from being included in the draft NRC.

Assam Police is empowered to identify anyone as ‘foreigner’

  • A third process empowers the Assam Police to identify anyone it suspects to be a ‘foreigner’.
  • Again, all that the police claim in most cases is that the person was unable to show them documents establishing his or her citizenship.
  • People consistently deny that the police even asked them from documents.

Opaque processes and Foreigners’ Tribunals

  • All cases referred by the police are heard by Foreigners’ Tribunals (FTs).
  • Earlier, retired judges were appointed to these tribunals.
  • The present government has appointed many lawyers who have never been judges.
  • There are now FTs in which not a single person has been declared an Indian citizen over several months.
  • Many allege that both the police and presiding officers in FTs work to fulfil informal targets to declare people foreigners.

Issues with Foreigners’ Tribunals

  • Even if a person finds her name in the NRC, the police can still refer her case to an FT;
  • an election official can even deem her to be a “D”-voter.
  • Article 20 of the Constitution includes as a fundamental right that “no person shall be prosecuted and punished for the same offence more than once”.
  • But this principle has been waived for FTs.
  • Even after an FT had confirmed a person to be an Indian citizen, another FT and often the same FT can again issue notice to the same person to prove her legitimate citizenship once more.
  • A person is never be allowed to feel secure that the state has finally accepted that she is an Indian citizen.


  • No person was given legal aid by the state, which is bound to deploy lawyers paid by the state to fight their cases in the FTs and higher courts.
  • People instead spoke of panic spending, of enormous amounts of money to pay lawyers, as well as for costs of travel of witnesses who they bring with them to testify in their favour.
  • For this, they have had to sell all their assets or borrow from private moneylenders.
  • The large majority of them are poorly educated and very impoverished, doing low-paid work such as drawing rickshaws, or working as domestic work or farm labour.


  • With the entire burden of proving citizenship on their shoulders and the arbitrary and opaque multiple forums to which they are summoned, people deprived of both education and resources are caught in a bureaucratic maze from which they find it hard to emerge.
  • Trapped at the crossroads of history, their destinies depend on institutions that treat them with undisguised hostility and bias.
Jan, 28, 2019

Citizenship Bill: the concerns behind Mizoram’s strong protests


Mains Paper 1: Social Issues | Population & associated issues

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Citizenship Bill

Mains level: Issues with the Citizenship Amendment Bill



  • Among various NE states where protests have broken out over the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, Mizoram witnessed massive amongst them.
  • These came into focus particularly because of photos, widely circulated on social media, that showed protesters with posters that proclaimed “Hello China, bye bye India”.
  • This protest was organised by the influential Mizo Zirlai Pawl (MZP).

What the Bill says

  1. The Bill amends the Citizenship Act, 1955, relaxing the citizenship eligibility rules for immigrants belonging to six minority (non-Muslim) religions from Afghanistan, Bangladesh or Pakistan.
  2. Read with various other provisions, the cutoff for eligibility becomes December 2014.
  3. Various groups in the NE have protested on grounds of its potential impact on the region’s demography, and questioned its constitutionality as it grants citizenship on the basis of religion.
  4. For protesters in Assam, Meghalaya and Tripura, the concern is about Hindu immigrants from Bangladesh.
  5. The Assam Accord, protesters in that state point out, lays down 1971 as the cutoff for acceptance as citizens; the NRC is being updated based on this cutoff, which does not differentiate on the basis of religion.

Concerns of Mizoram

  1. In Mizoram, the concern is not about Hindu immigrants from Bangladesh but about Chakmas, a tribal and largely Buddhist group.
  2. The Chakmas are present in parts of the Northeast, and the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh, with which Mizoram shares an international border.
  3. While Christians form 87% of Mizoram’s 11 lakh population (2011), Chakmas number about 1 lakh.
  4. Certain sections in Mizoram blame Chakmas for illegal migration from Bangladesh, which the community denies.
  5. The state has seen ethnic violence, with instances of arson, names of Chakmas being struck off voters’ lists, and denial of admission to Chakma students in college.

Data on Chakmas

  1. The apex students’ body Mizo Zirlai Pawl (MZP) and the YMA, which are leading the current agitation, have often cited figures they attribute to the Census.
  2. In 1901, there were only 198 Chakmas in Mizoram and by 1991 it was over 80,000. The growth rate is far more than normally possible.
  3. This proves their constant influx from Bangladesh.
  4. Chakma activists cite a 2015 report submitted by the government of Mizoram to the NHRC.
  5. The veracity of the Census figures between 1901 and 1941 cannot be ascertained as the same are not available with the Census Directorate, Mizoram,” the then state Deputy Secretary (Home) wrote in the report.
  6. The report cites Census data that puts the Chakma population at 15,297 in 1951 and 96,972 in 2011.

Its Mizos Vs Non-Mizos

  1. Mizos clearly identify the Chakmas as ‘non-Mizo’.
  2. Radical groups often make calls to expel them from Mizoram as they were considered illegal immigrants.
  3. Their large-scale migrations having taken place in 1964 (caused by inundation of their land due to the damming of the Karnaphuli river for a hydro-electric project in Bangladesh) and 1980-4 (caused by insurgency in the Chittagong Hill Tracts led by the Hills Peoples’ Movement of Bangladesh).
  4. Nor did the Chakmas want to identify themselves as Mizo.
Jan, 14, 2019

Centre to revive National Population Register (NPR)


Mains Paper 1: Social Issues | Population & associated issues

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: National Register of Citizens (NRC), NPR

Mains level: Measures to curb illegal immigration in border areas


  • The Union government has decided to revive ambitious National Register of Indian Citizens project across country as part of drive to identify illegal immigrant.
  • The Centre has decided to give a fresh impetus to the department of the National Population Register (NPR) under the Registrar General of India.

About National Population Register (NPR)

  1. The NPR is a Register of usual residents of the country.
  2. It is being prepared at the local (Village/sub-Town), sub-District, District, State and National level under provisions of the Citizenship Act 1955 and the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003.
  3. It is mandatory for every usual resident of India to register in the NPR.
  4. A usual resident is defined for the purposes of NPR as a person who has resided in a local area for the past 6 months or more or a person who intends to reside in that area for the next 6 months or more.
  5. The objective is to create a comprehensive identity database of every usual resident in the country. The database would contain demographic as well as biometric particulars.

Why such move?

  1. The division had turned almost non-functional after Aadhaar gained supremacy in the NDA government’s agenda in late 2014.
  2. Data for NPR was collected in 2010 along with the house-listing phase of the Census.
  3. However, the main task assigned to the department for the creation of the National Register of Indian Citizens (NRIC) had been shelved by the government.
  4. If a final go-ahead is given by the government, an exercise will be carried out for the creation of two databases.
  5. The NPR’s main task is to generate the NRIC.
  6. The rest will automatically become National Register of Residents or NRR. It is called a filtering process, and involves field verification as well as scrutiny of documents.

In line with NRC

  1. The process for the NRC has been envisaged in the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003.
  2. The NRC exercise in Assam and the subsequent releasing of the data appears to have provided a much-needed push for the NRC project.
  3. The idea of the NRC is being seen as a last-ditch effort to contain the influx of illegal immigrants.
  4. Over 40 lakh people were left out of the Assam NRC in July, and after claims and settlement, a final list will be released.

MPNIC Proposal First Moved In 2000

  1. The Group of Ministers’ (GoM) report after the Kargil war had suggested that the government must identify citizens and non-citizens, and both should be given different identity cards.
  2. Illegal migration has assumed serious proportions.
  3. There should be compulsory registration of citizens and non-citizens living in India which will facilitate preparation of a national register of citizens.
  4. All citizens should be given a Multi-Purpose National Identity Card (MPNIC) and non-citizens should be issued identity cards of a different colour and design.
  5. This should be introduced initially in the border districts, or maybe in a 20-kilometre border belt and extended to the hinterland progressively.
Jan, 03, 2019

[pib] Cabinet approves high level committee to implement Clause 6 of Assam Accord


Mains Paper 2: Polity | Functions & responsibilities of the Union & the States, issues & challenges pertaining to the federal structure

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level:  Assam Accord of 1985

Mains level: Various policy safeguards for distinct Assamese community


  • The Union Cabinet chaired has approved the setting up of a High Level Committee for implementation of Clause 6 of the Assam Accord and measures envisaged in the Memorandum of Settlement, 2003 and other issues related to Bodo community.

Clause 6 of Assam Accord

  1. After Assam agitation of 1979-1985, Assam Accord was signed on 15th August, 1985.
  2. Clause 6 of the Accord envisaged that appropriate constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards, shall be provided to protect, preserve and promote the cultural, social, linguistic identity and heritage of the Assamese people.
  3. However, it has been felt that Clause 6 of the Assam Accord has not been fully implemented even almost 35 years after the Accord was signed.
  4. Hence the Cabinet approved setting up of a High Level Committee to suggest constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards as envisaged in Clause 6 of the Assam Accord.

Mandate of the HLC

  1. The Committee shall examine the effectiveness of actions since 1985 to implement Clause 6 of the Assam Accord.
  2. It will hold discussions with all stakeholders and assess the required quantum of reservation of seats in Assam Legislative Assembly and local bodies for Assamese people.
  3. It will also assess the requirement of measures to be taken to protect Assamese and other indigenous languages of Assam.
  4. It will look onto quantum of reservation in employment under Government of Assam and other measures to protect, preserve and promote cultural, social, linguistic identity and heritage of Assamese people.
  5. It is expected that the setting up of the Committee will pave the way for the implementation of the Assam Accord in letter and spirit and will help fulfil longstanding expectations of the Assamese people.

Other measures for Bodo Community

  1. The Bodo Accord was signed in 2003 which resulted in the establishment of a Bodoland Territorial Council under Sixth Schedule of the Constitution of India.
  2. However, there have been representations from different organizations of Bodos to fulfil various outstanding demands.
  3. The Cabinet approved the establishment of a Bodo Museum-cum-language and cultural study centre.
  4. It will also undertake modernization of existing All India Radio Station and Doordarshan Kendra at Kokrajhar and naming a Superfast Train passing through BTAD as ARONAI Express.


Assam Accord of 1985

  1. The Assam Accord was a Memorandum of Settlement (MoS) signed between representatives of the Government of India and the leaders of the Assam Movement in New Delhi on 15 August 1985
  2. A six-year agitation demanding identification and deportation of illegal immigrants was launched by the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) in 1979
  3. It culminated with the signing of the Assam Accord
  4. The accord prescribes deportation for everyone who entered the state illegally after the midnight of March 24, 1971.
Dec, 10, 2018

Centre amends rules for minorities from three nations


Mains Paper 1: Social Issues | Population & associated issues

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: National Register of Citizens (NRC), Citizenship Act, 1955, Assam Accord, 1985

Mains level: Updation of NRC and its implications on demography as well as security situation of Assam as well as other neighbouring states



  1. A parliamentary committee has been examining the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, that proposes citizenship to six persecuted minorities — Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, Parsis, Christians and Buddhists — from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, who came to India before 2014.
  2. It has run into strong resistance in the Assam because it will pave the way for giving citizenship mostly to illegal Hindu migrants from Bangladesh in Assam, who came after March 1971, in violation of the 1985 Assam Accord.

Separate column for Minorities

  1. The contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, is pending in Parliament, but the Union Home Ministry has notified amendments to the Citizenship Rules, 2009.
  2. It seeks to include a separate column in the citizenship form for applicants belonging to six minority communities from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.
  3. Since 2011, nearly 30,000 Pakistanis, mostly Hindus, have been granted long-term visas.

New amendments

  1. The Centre has made the changes under Section 18 of the Citizenship Act, 1955. New rules were notified on December 3.
  2. Under the amendments, a separate entry in the form will ask the applicant: Do you belong to one of the minority communities from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan — Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Parsis, Sikhs and Christians?

Benefits of the move

  1. The amendments are done to provide relief to the people.
  2. The amended rules are expected to benefit those who escaped persecution.
  3. They are not in violation of the work of the parliamentary committee.

Additional Readings:

The citizenry test: Assam NRC explained

Nov, 03, 2018

[op-ed snap] Accident of birth


Mains Paper 2: IR | Effect of policies & politics of developed & developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Jus soli concept

Mains level: Laws related to citizenship by birth in India as well as the US and their misuse by illegal immigrants


Proposal to scrap US citizenship by birth for non-residents

  1. USA’s president Trump has advocated of striking down jus soli, the right to citizenship by birth derived from the common law
  2. The principle guarantees that a child born on US soil is automatically a full citizen, irrespective of the citizenship status of its parents
  3. Trump’s US seems to be determined to follow the trail blazed by the other great democracy, India

India’s law

  1. In 2004, India abolished jus soli in response to fears about mass immigration from Bangladesh
  2. The controversy about the National Register of Citizens in Assam, which initially excluded 40 lakh individuals, is the long tail of an event which included the end of jus soli
  3. India is the only big country to take this step and the rest of the world supports jus soli, though it may be conditional

US law

  1. In the US, the 14th amendment to the constitution guarantees citizenship by birth
  2. This has been a powerful driver of the idea of America
  3. Even the child of undocumented parents has a fighting chance to leave the underclass behind and shoot for the stars
  4. America has taken a sharp turn to the right in amending jus soli, which hinges only on the location of birth and does not discriminate on other counts like country of familial origin or colour

Impact of the change

  1. Millions of citizens, the children of immigrants who were not citizens when they were born, would be disenfranchised by such a move
  2. Many of them would be found to be achievers and could mount a successful class action against a reading down of the 14th amendment
  3. The message has gone out nevertheless, that in the future, the US may not remain as bravely welcoming of outside talent as it has been

Way forward

  1. Citizenship in the US has been a mixed story, thanks to the history of slavery and the disenfranchisement of Native Americans
  2. But it must be remembered that the end of white America coincided with the emergence of a superpower
  3. If Trump tries to hold off the browning of America, the country would simply lose the plot
Oct, 27, 2018

[op-ed snap] Proceed with caution


Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Population & associated issues

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: NRC, Tripura accord

Mains level: Migration problem being faced by India & its impact on demographic composition and security


Proposal for NRC in Tripura

  1. The Supreme Court has tagged a petition filed by the Tripura People’s Front seeking updating of the NRC in Tripura, along with the Assam NRC case, and issued a notice to the Centre
  2. The petitioners have sought July 19, 1948, as the cut-off date in accordance with Article 6 of the Constitution
  3. Article 6 of the Constitution of India deals with Rights of citizenship of certain persons who have migrated to India from Pakistan
  4. Tripura was a princely state prior to its merger with India on October 15, 1949

Provisions of Article 6

  1. Article 6 of the Constitution implies that a migrant from erstwhile East Pakistan is deemed to be an Indian citizen if either of his or her parents or any of his or her grandparents were born in India and in the case where such a person has migrated on or after July 19, 1948, and has been resident in the territory of India since the date of his migration
  2. The migrant can also be deemed a citizen if such a person migrated on or after July 19, 1948, but has been registered as a citizen of India by an officer appointed by the Government of India

History of migrants in Tripura state

  1. Successive Census Reports and official records show how large-scale migration of people from erstwhile East Bengal and East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) changed the demography of Tripura, stoking fears among various ethnic communities, the original inhabitants, about their survival
  2. They were apprehensive that their identity, language, culture and traditions were at stake
  3. The percentage of ethnic communities enlisted as Scheduled Tribes declined to 50.09 in 1941, 36.89 in 1951, to 28.95 in 1971 and 28.44 in 1981 and it was 31.78% of the total population of 36.74 lakh recorded in the 2011 Census
  4. As per Department of Rehabilitation, Ministry of Labour and Rehabilitation, Government of India, there was an influx of an estimated 5.17 lakh refugees from erstwhile East Pakistan into Tripura between 1947 and February 1971

Tripura accord

  1. The Dasarath Deb-led Left Front government in Tripura signed an accord with the erstwhile militant outfit All Tripura Tribal Force (ATTF) in 1993 to send back all Bangladeshi nationals who came to the State after March 25, 1971, and were not in possession of valid documents
  2. The cut-off date for the NRC exercise will be critical to the determination of citizenship of the East Pakistan refugees besides ensuring that the demographic fault lines do not give fresh ground for insurgency and a fresh conflict between ethnic communities and the migrants

Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016

  1. The bill seeks to grant citizenship to six non-Muslim minority communities in Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan — Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists, Jains and Parsis
  2. The governments at the Centre and in Tripura may push the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 to woo the post-Partition Bengali refugees by playing upon the perceived fear among them of being reduced to non-citizens if July 19, 1948, is taken as the cut-off date

Way forward

  1. The deep demographic fault lines and the history of a bitter insurgency-ravaged past should remind both New Delhi and Agartala that mishandling of the citizenship issue may push Tripura into a protracted conflict situation that will be difficult to resolve
  2. An NRC exercise in Tripura may open a Pandora’s box as India is still undecided on the determination of citizenship status of lakhs of refugees from erstwhile East Pakistan
Oct, 26, 2018

Govt. notifies rules on granting citizenship


Mains Paper 1: Social Issues | Population & associated issues

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level:  Citizenship Act, 1955

Mains level:  Implications of grant of citizenship on demography as well as security situation.



  1. Since 2011, 30,000 Pakistani citizens have been granted long-term visas, a precursor to citizenship, and 1,500 applications are now pending.
  2. Officials put the number of such migrants in India at two lakh.
  3. There are 400 Pakistani Hindu refugee settlements in Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Bikaner and Jaipur.

Empowering District Collectors

  1. The Union Home Ministry has empowered the DCs of certain districts in seven States to accept online applications to grant citizenship to “persecuted minorities” from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh living in India.
  2. A parliamentary committee has been examining the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, which proposes to grant citizenship to six persecuted minorities.
  3. These include Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, Parsis, Christians and Buddhists who came to India from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh before 2014.

More Responsibilities

  1. Under the new rules, notified on October 24, the migrants can apply online, and the verification reports or the security clearance reports of the applicants shall be made available to the Centre through an online portal.
  2. Citizenship will be granted after the verification reports are received from the States and the Centre.
  3. The Collector or the Secretary shall maintain an online/digital as well as physical register, containing the details of persons so registered or naturalized as a citizen of India.
  4. Their office shall furnish a copy thereof to the Central government within seven days of registration.

A Delegated Power

  1. As the Bill is pending, the Home Ministry gave powers to the Collectors in Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi to grant citizenship and naturalization certificates.
  2. This is carried out under Sections 5 and 6 of the Citizenship Act, 1955.
  3. No such power has been delegated to Assam officials.



Article 5 : Citizenship at the commencement of the Constitution

At the commencement of this Constitution, every person who has his domicile in the territory of India and –

  1. who was born in the territory of India; or
  2. either of whose parents was born in the territory of India; or
  3. who has been ordinarily resident in the territory of India for not less than five years immediately preceding such commencement, shall be a citizen of India.

Certain Acts related to Citizenship of India

  1. Indian nationality law largely follows the jus sanguinis (citizenship by right of blood) as opposed to the jus soli (citizenship by right of birth within the territory).

Acquisition of Indian Citizenship as per Citizenship Act 1955:

Indian Citizenship can be acquired under the following ways :

(1) Citizenship at the commencement of the constitution of India

(2) Citizenship by birth*

(3) Citizenship by descent

(4) Citizenship by registration

(5) Citizenship by naturalization.

  1. Persons domiciled in the territory of India as on 26 November 1949 automatically became Indian. (Citizenship at the commencement of the constitution of India.)
  2. Any person born in India on or after 26 January 1950, but prior to the commencement of the 1986 Act on 1 July 1987, is a citizen of India by birth.  [Citizenship by birth]
  • A person born in India on or after 1 July 1987 is a citizen of India if either parent was a citizen of India at the time of the birth. [Citizenship by birth]
  • Those born in India on or after 3 December 2004 are considered citizens of India only if both of their parents are citizens of India or if one parent is a citizen of India and the other is not an illegal migrant at the time of their birth. [Citizenship by birth].
  1. One can lose citizenship of India in three ways – Renunciation, Termination and Deprivation.
Oct, 09, 2018

SC tags Tripura NRC plea with Assam case


Mains Paper 1: Social Issues | Population & associated issues

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: National Register of Citizens (NRC), Citizenship Act, 1955

Mains level: Updation of NRC and its implications on demography as well as security situation.


Update NRC for Tripura: SC

  1. The Supreme Court has issued notice to the government to update the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Tripura, as is being done in Assam, in order to detect and deport the “illegal immigrants” from Bangladesh.
  2. The PIL asked the Court to direct authorities to update the NRC with respect to Tripura in terms of Rules 3 and 4 of The Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003 by taking July 19, 1948 as the cut-off date as provided for in Article 6 of the Constitution.

Bangladeshi Influx: An external aggression

  1. The petition contended the “influx” of illegal immigrants into Tripura amounted to ‘external aggression’ under Article 355 of the Constitution.
  2. The presence of illegal immigrants violates the political rights of the citizens of Tripura said the PIL.

Tripura facing demographic changes

  1. Uncontrolled influx of illegal migrants from Bangladesh to Tripura has caused huge demographic changes in Tripura.
  2. Tripura was a predominantly tribal State, but now it has become a non-tribal State.
  3. Indigenous people who were once the majority has now become a minority in their own land claimed the PIL.
Aug, 06, 2018

[op-ed snap] Citizenship and compassion


Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Population & associated issues

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Refugee crisis in India as well as other parts of the world and dealing with it


NRC updation in Assam

  1. The current situation in Assam seems like a nightmare, a warning about the internal contradictions of democracy
  2. It is a warning that the 19th century ideas of democracy as electoral-ism and the notion of the nation-state as a fetishism of borders may be inappropriate as imaginations for the 21st century
  3. It is a caution that governance and politics are full of ironies and paradoxes and that the best of intentions might lead to the worst consequences
  4. Inherent in it is the banalisation of evil that can take place when suffering on a large scale gets reduced to a cost-benefit scenario

History of citizen registers

  1. The politics of citizens’ registers underlines the problem of migratory politics, refracted through the layered memories of many historical events
  2. It began in the colonial era when the British attempted to import labour for the plantations
  3. Major displacements like Partition and the Bangladesh war added to a huge “illegal” population

What’s the issue with current NRC updation?

  1. A register which began as a routine, even clinical exercise now acquires a Machiavellian shadow
  2. In this tussle between the nation-state and an open democracy, the enclosure and the panopticon as mediums of control are at odds with the idea of the commons and the hospitality of the community
  3. Technocratic solutions cannot hide the absence of human and historical understanding
  4. The handling and management of large populations create a problem of ethics. Assam raises the question of both triage and exterminism
  5. The dispensability and disposability of large populations confronts India on a large scale

Handling such situations

  1. One cannot handle such situations merely through law
  2. One needs generosity, hospitality and compassion
  3. One needs to understand that once our civics accepts the detention centre and the internment camp as routine, we are creating gulags of the mind, where one can begin with an ordinary act of classification and erase a people
  4. Indian democracy has to face the genocidal prospect inherent both in its technocratic sense of governance and in the anxieties that electoralism creates

Security vs Nation state paradigm

  1. The shift from citizenship to a preoccupation with security unfolds a different paradigm of thought
  2. Nation-state and citizenship as encompassing entities offer different ideas of order and control
  3. Security is a panopticon-ising notion, while citizenship is a caring, even protective, one
  4. Security operates on the grids of surveillance, scrutiny and separation
  5. Citizenship is a more hospitable notion of initiating the other into a system

Way Forward

  1. We need to go back and look at our Constitution and reread notions of the border, the very idea of citizenship
  2. We need to go beyond hard definitions and look at the penumbra of these concepts
  3. We need to think of a nation-state with permeable borders and a fluid sense of citizenship which makes life more hopeful for the refugee
Jul, 31, 2018

The citizenry test: Assam NRC explained


Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Population & associated issues

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: National Register of Citizens (NRC), Citizenship Act, 1955, Assam Accord, 1985

Mains level: Updation of NRC and its implications on demography as well as security situation of Assam as well as other neighbouring states


Draft NRC released

  1. The draft National Register of Citizens (NRC) was published on 30 July
  2. It includes only those able to prove they were in Assam before 1971

Why is NRC being updated in Assam?

  1. Officially, the NRC process will address the issue of illegal migrants, specifically from Bangladesh
  2. The National Register of Citizens was first published in 1951 to record citizens, their houses and holdings
  3. Updating the NRC to root out foreigners was a demand during the Assam Agitation (1979-1985)

Who is a citizen in Assam?

  1. The Citizenship Act of 1955 was amended after the Assam Accord  for all Indian-origin people who came from Bangladesh before January 1, 1966 to be deemed as citizens
  2. Those who came between January 1, 1966 and March 25, 1971 were eligible for citizenship after registering and living in the State for 10 years while those entering after March 25, 1971, were to be deported

Why is March 24, 1971 the cut-off date?

  1. There have been several waves of migration to Assam from Bangladesh, but the biggest was in March 1971 when the Pakistan army crackdown forced many to flee to India
  2. The Assam Accord of 1985 that ended the six-year anti-foreigners’ agitation decided upon the midnight of March 24, 1971 as the cut-off date

Who is a D-voter?

  1. Short for ‘dubious’ or ‘doubtful, this is a category of voters disenfranchised by the government for alleged lack of proper citizenship documents

Who is a declared foreigner?

  1. D-voters are tried by special tribunals under the Foreigners’ Act
  2. If they fail to defend their citizenship claim they are marked as declared foreigners and sent to any of six detention camps, which are within jails for criminals, for deportation

What happens to the excluded 40 lakh?

  1. They will have to file for claims and objections and submit relevant documents for re-verification
  2. The documents will be verified and accepted or rejected for the final NRC to be published on an unspecified date
  3. The cases of those left out of the final NRC will be heard in the Foreigners’ Tribunals, after which applicants can approach the High Court
Jun, 28, 2018

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


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


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
May, 08, 2018

Hearing on Citizenship Bill begins in Assam amid protests


Mains Paper 2: Polity | Functions & responsibilities of the Union & the States, issues & challenges pertaining to the federal structure

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Joint Parliamentary Committee, Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, Assam Accord of 1985

Mains level: Issue of illegal migration in Assam and other areas and its effects on economy and security of country


Granting citizenship to migrants

  1. The Joint Parliamentary Committee on the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 began its hearing in Assam
  2. The bill, introduced in the Lok Sabha on July 15, 2016, seeks to grant citizenship to non-Muslims who have fled persecution in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan

Violation of Assam Accord

  1. Indigenous groups in Assam view this as a move to legitimize Hindus who have migrated from Bangladesh after 1971
  2. They also see it as a violation of the provisions of the Assam Accord of 1985


Assam Accord of 1985

  1. The Assam Accord was a Memorandum of Settlement (MoS) signed between representatives of the Government of India and the leaders of the Assam Movement in New Delhi on 15 August 1985
  2. A six-year agitation demanding identification and deportation of illegal immigrants was launched by the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) in 1979
  3. It culminated with the signing of the Assam Accord
  4. The accord prescribes deportation for everyone who entered the state illegally after the midnight of March 24, 1971
Feb, 06, 2018

New Constitution Bench to examine Citizenship Act


Mains Paper 2: Polity | Structure, organization & functioning of the Executive & the Judiciary

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Citizenship Act 1955, Assam Accord, Article 29(1) of Constitution

Mains level: Important provisions of Citizenship Act


Examining cut-off date for awarding citizenship

  1. The Supreme Court decided to refer to a fresh Constitution Bench pleas to examine the validity of various aspects of a provision of the Citizenship Act 1955
  2. This includes the cut-off date for awarding citizenship to Bangladeshi immigrants in Assam
  3. Section 6A of the Act relates to provisions for citizenship of people covered by the Assam Accord

Questioning validity of Section 6A of act

  1. SC bench will examine whether Section 6A violates the Articles of the Constitution by diluting the political rights of residents of Assam
  2. The scope of the fundamental right contained in Article 29(1), relating to the right to conserve a distinct language, script or culture, and also about the meaning of expressions ‘culture’ and ‘conserve’ will also be examined


Assam Accord

  1. The Assam Accord (1985) was a Memorandum of Settlement (MoS) signed between representatives of the Government of India and the leaders of the Assam Movement in New Delhi on 15 August 1985
  2. Some of the key demands of the movement were:
  • All those foreigners who had entered Assam between 1951 and 1961 were to be given full citizenship, including the right to vote
  • Those who had done so after 1971 were to be deported; the entrants between 1961 and 1971 were to be denied voting rights for ten years but would enjoy all other rights of citizenship

3. Though the accord brought an end to the agitation, some of the key clauses are yet to be implemented

Jan, 02, 2018

One register to count them all — how the NRC fares

Image source


Mains Paper 3: Internal Security | Role of external state & non-state actors in creating challenges to internal security

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: National Register of Citizens, 1985 Assam Accord

Mains level: Issue of migrants creating problems in various states across India


National Register of Citizens (NRC) of the State updated in Assam

  1. Millions of people in Assam on Sunday lived through the “the stroke of midnight” as the Assam government published the first draft of an updated National Register of Citizens (NRC) of the State
  2. NRC is a process by which a bona fide Indian citizen can be distinguished from a foreigner
  3. Assam is the only state to have its own register of citizens

Why update NRC in Assam?

  1. The NRC is being updated in Assam to detect Bangladeshi nationals, who may have illegally entered the State after the midnight of March 24, 1971, the cut-off date
  2. This date was originally agreed to in the 1985 Assam Accord, signed between the then Rajiv Gandhi government and the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU)
  3. In 2005, another agreement was signed between the Centre, the then Tarun Gogoi government in Assam and the AASU where it was decided to update the NRC that was first published after the Census data of 1951 in post-Partition India

Is the NRC a court-mandated exercise?

  1. The publication of the first draft of the NRC by December 31, 2017, was ordered by the Supreme Court
  2. The top court has been hearing this case since July 2009 when Assam Public Works moved court to intervene in detecting and deporting Bangladeshis

Violence expected

  1. The security challenge will emerge only when the process of updating the NRC gets completed and a large number of people are left out
Dec, 01, 2016

National anthem must be played before screening of films: Supreme Court

  1. What: The SC has ordered all cinema halls across the country to play the national anthem before the screening of films
  2. It said that all present must “stand up in respect” till the anthem ended
  3. Furthermore, it said the practice would “instill a feeling within one a sense of committed patriotism and nationalism”
  4. Cinema halls should also display the national flag on screen when the anthem is played
  5. The Bench said it is the duty of every person to show respect when the national anthem is played or recited or sung under the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act of 1951
  6. In its interim order, the SC issued a complete ban on the commercial exploitation of the national anthem and the flag
  7. It banned dramatisation of the anthem or it to be used in any part of any variety shows or for entertainment purposes
  8. The court banned the display of the national anthem on any undesirable or disgraceful places
  9. It also banned the display, recitation or use of the abridged version of the national anthem
  10. The SC was hearing a plea to clarify when the national anthem should be sung
  11. Background: The SC’s decision to consider this PIL followed after a wheelchair-bound man was assaulted by a couple at a cinema hall in Panaji for not standing up during the rendition of the anthem


The Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971 is an Act of the Parliament of India which prohibits desecration of or insult to the country’s national symbols, including

  1. The National Flag,
  2. The Constitution,
  3. Indian map and
  4. The National Anthem.

Significant amendments were added in 2003 and 2005, which prohibited many previously common uses of the flag, such as draping it over a podium during a speech, using it as decoration, or incorporating it into clothing designs.


Any SC judgment is important from the mains perspective. Note the judgment down, it will be useful for questions on patriotism, nationalism etc.

Nov, 28, 2016

[op-ed snap] Who can become an Indian citizen?

  1. Context: Partition’s long shadow is evident on the Citizenship Amendment Bill, which seeks to introduce a religious distinction in the law. It must be debated
  2. Highlights of the bill:
  3. 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.
  4. Under the Act, one of the requirements for citizenship by naturalisation is that the applicant must have resided in India during the last 12 months, and for 11 of the previous 14 years.
  5. The Bill provides that the registration of Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cardholders may be cancelled if they violate any law.
  6. The Bill relaxes this 11 year requirement to six years for persons belonging to the same six religions and three countries.
  7. Issue #1: The Bill makes illegal migrants eligible for citizenship on the basis of religion. This may violate Article 14 of the Constitution which guarantees right to equality.
  8. Issue #2: The Bill allows cancellation of OCI registration for violation of any law. This is a wide ground that may cover a range of violations, including minor offences!

Note: Keep a note of these two issues, leave the rest. This edit was written with a regional outlook (specifically that of Assam) and we have removed those parts. It’s better that we keep in mind the universal issues and challenges.

Oct, 01, 2016

Citizenship amendment bill communally motivated: Activists

  1. Context: Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016
  2. Proposed amendment: (to the Citizenship Act, 1955) To grant citizenship to non-Muslim minorities from Muslim majority countries
  3. This includes Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan
  4. Criticism: Civil Society groups- it is a communally motivated humanitarianism
  5. How? By seeking to grant citizenship on the basis of religious denomination, it is blatantly in violation of the constitution

Discuss: What are the objectives of recently introduced Bill to amend certain provisions of the Citizenship Act, 1955? Point out the lacunae in the bill?

Jul, 16, 2016

Citizenship Act to be amended soon

  1. News: The government is likely to introduce a Bill in the monsoon session of Parliament to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955
  2. Amendment: Definition of “illegal migrants” to be changed that will enable the government to grant citizenship to minorities
  3. The minorities aimed are at mostly Hindus, from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, who have fled their country fearing religious persecution
  4. Context: The Union Cabinet recently gave its approval to empower district magistrates to allow certain facilities for people staying on Long Term Visa (LTV) in India
  5. Facilities covered include purchase of property, issue of driving licence and self-employment
Jun, 07, 2016

Pakistani Sindhi Hindus to get Indian citizenship

  1. Context: Nearly 35,000 Sindhis from Pakistan were living as refugees in M.P.
  2. The Centre will set up a 4-day camp here to grant Indian citizenship to those who migrated to India from Pakistan between 1971 and 2009
  3. The application process is divided into three categories to bucket them according to their year of migeration
Mar, 19, 2016

OCI cards enough to visit India

  1. News: Indian diaspora will no longer have to get a visa affixed on their passports every time they travel to India
  2. Context: Govt has decided that since categories Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) and Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) were merged last yr
  3. OCI card will suffice to enter the country and hence would require no VISA
  4. Old Practice: Every OCI card holder required to get a visa affixed from Indian High Commission whenever they planned a visit to India.
  5. Amendment: Govt amended the Citizenship Act, 1955 last yr and a notification was issued to merge the 2 cards
  6. Importance: Move would also help create a database of the Indian diaspora as a consolidated figure is not present with the govt
Aug, 06, 2015

Citizenship soon for those who fled religious persecution

Aug, 05, 2015

Citizenship for those who fled for religious persecution

May, 18, 2015

Give priority to updating of citizens register: ULFA

May, 11, 2015

Govt. set to grant citizenship to Hindus from Bangladesh

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