This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Ishu Jaiswal. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Does Supporting The NRC Reek Of Bigotry?

More from Ishu Jaiswal

The update of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam has sparked yet another debate regarding the status and scale of immigrants in a state that ostensibly bears the brunt of illegal immigration. Sadly, the discussion surrounding the NRC has taken a woeful direction and has yet again descended into the binaries of the liberal left and the xenophobic far-right. It doesn’t take long for a left-liberal to label anyone in favour of the NRC a bigot, and frankly, seeing that the narrative has been hijacked by sections of the media that only exist to determine who yells the loudest and is the most patriotic, one cannot blame them. The nauseating narrative pushed forward by some of the prime time debates is doing a major disservice to anyone, mostly the people of Assam, who want the rest of India to understand exactly how they feel about the NRC. The problem with the NRC is not its existence, but its implementation.

Is anyone who even remotely supports the NRC a hyper-nationalist bigot? Is it not possible for one to be on board with the NRC and see its shortcomings and the issues with its implementation and yet be against the ruling party and its communal politics? The fact that the Assam agitation took place because of the drastic increase in the electorate is something to take note of. And whether or not Assam’s illegal immigration problem is as bad as some claim it to be, the concern about immigration, one that has a history and a violent one at that, isn’t unique to the right-winger bigots who want to throw everyone out unless they are a citizen and not turn a hair to their well-being.

No one is saying that the NRC cannot potentially be a disaster. And no one is indifferent and oblivious to the havoc it can wreak. By the same token, when one says that the NRC is something necessary and was supposed to be updated at some point anyway and was pending since 2005, it does not amount to a disregard of the vulnerable and the indifference of those who may be deemed illegal immigrants and stripped of their citizenship. And it certainly does not imply that the 4 million people excluded from the NRC are all illegal immigrants. Some “liberals” need to keep in mind that those frothing-at-the-mouth uber-nationalists on prime-time debates do not represent the people of Assam and don’t speak for those who may not be entirely opposed to the NRC. There is cause to worry. However, what is often not properly taken into account regarding the NRC is that this is not the final list. And no, that is not repudiating the fact that the time given to take in those who have been wrongly left out of the NRC isn’t nearly enough, but that is nonetheless a fact that needs to be considered.

The debate about the NRC is almost always shut down by bringing up far-right extremist voices, and anyone who is for the NRC even if they are worried about its faulty procedures is suddenly associated with voices as extreme as a that of a BJP MLA calling for shooting the immigrants dead if they don’t leave. Trying to present an opposing view not only invites a sort of backlash that is uncomfortable since it implies bigotry, but it also turns the debate into that of humanitarian aid as opposed to one about illegal immigration. Supporting the NRC is not majoritarian bullying and communal, and it’s an absolute woe that some sections of the left are not able to see for what it is and mistake every opposing voice for those extremist far-right hyper-nationalists.

It’s disheartening to see the way Assamese are being wrongly labelled because people who are actually hyper-nationalist are using a certain kind of rhetoric. Woe betides anyone who dares to speak for something that is happening under the current regime, no matter what it is. Because this is a time where either you are against communal politics and must oppose literally everything the BJP does, or you are a xenophobic bigot. If the BJP pushes for the Citizen (Amendment) Bill, which makes it easier for illegal immigrants to gain citizenship, oppose it. If the NRC update happens to be taking place while the BJP is in power, even though it’s because the update was ordered by the Supreme Court and has little to nothing to do with the current government, oppose it.

It doesn’t matter if the people who are defending the NRC are doing so on the ground that it’ll identify the problem of illegal immigration and the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill will exacerbate that very problem, you have to oppose both. It doesn’t matter if you are rightfully worried of the procedure through which citizenship will be determined and are still not entirely opposed to the NRC, you cannot but be a xenophobic bigot and a staunch supporter of the ruling party if you lend your support to the NRC. You must be one of those who supports lynching, and you must believe that the 4 million people are all illegal immigrants. You must be oblivious to the genuine problem of the aftermath of the NRC update. In essence, you are either completely in concurrence with a very specific liberal viewpoint or with those blindfolded xenophobes whose politics is communally coloured, for there isn’t any other position to be taken.

The All Assam Student’s Union protesting against the proposed Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016.

None of that is to say that there aren’t actual xenophobes out there and the rise in the anti-immigrant sentiment across the world is well understood. There are voices which are extreme, in Assam and outside. Speaking about immigration, therefore, knowing that there are extremist voices out there missing no opportunity to play with the politics of alterity and capitalise on people’s insecurities by exaggerating a situation can be deeply uncomfortable. It is important to note, however, that speaking against the dehumanisation of immigrants and refugees and be concerned of an illegal immigration problem in one’s own state isn’t necessarily mutually exclusive.

The only way to have a healthy discussion about the issue is to recognise that lending your support to the NRC doesn’t amount to the denial of its errors and it is possible to discuss what sort of mechanism and strategy there needs to be to deal with those who will be stripped of their citizenship and still be supportive of the NRC, all the while acknowledging that a fairly large number of people risk losing their citizenship despite being Indian citizens because of poor management. It is an important issue, and it needs to be properly discussed and debated. However, for that to happen, one needs to break away from the binaries that seem to have hijacked the current political discourse.

You must be to comment.
  1. Pooja Jangra

    amazing article on assam NRC issue…
    to know all about NRC must visit here:

More from Ishu Jaiswal

Similar Posts

By Soumita Sen

By Accountability Initiative

By Sajad Rasool

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below