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Opinion: The Citizenship Amendment Bill Makes A Mockery Of Our Democracy

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Article 14 and 15 of the Indian Constitution talk about giving every person equality before the law within the territory of India, prohibiting any discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of origin.

On December 9, the Lok Sabha passed the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) 2019 which read that “any person belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi or Christian community from Afghanistan, Bangladesh or Pakistan, who entered into India on or before the 31st day of December, 2014 … shall not be treated as illegal migrant“. The only religion that this Bill leaves out is Islam.

This bigoted, communal, and discriminatory bill got 293 votes in its favor and sailed swiftly through the Lower House of Parliament. The bill was proposed by someone who had, in the run-up to the 2019 elections, said that “infiltrators are termites” who should be thrown out of India. That is exactly what he is doing by bringing in the CAB because, obviously, only a Muslim immigrant is a termite. Through this move, the BJP-led NDA has slapped every person who believes in the idea of India on the face.

Source: LSTV

Dressed in a saffron ‘Modi jacket’ in the Parliament yesterday, Home Minister Amit Shah argued that these six religious minorities face prosecution and discrimination in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan and hence it is India’s responsibility to give them shelter.

He said that Bill is not non-discriminatory and a means to correct the wrongs of partition. However, the US Commission for International Religious Freedom issued a statement on Monday, December 10, that the bill is a “dangerous turn in the wrong direction,” and suggested sanctions against Home Minister Amit Shah if the Bill is passed in both houses of the Parliament.

The European Union Ambassador to India, Ugo Astuto, said that the Principle of equality is enshrined in the Indian Constitution and they hope that it will be upheld.

The state of Assam is facing a bandh after huge protests against the CAB and NRC. The whole of the North-East is out on the roads against this communal Bill. The Left parties also staged a protest outside the Parliament. Protests have been carried out in Pune and parts of Bihar.

Prashant Kishore, Vice President of JD(U) and former political strategist of Narendra Modi who had coined slogans like Abki Baar Modi Sarkar, said that he is disappointed to see his party supporting the CAB, which discriminates right of citizenship on the basis of religion.


Ironically, in 2015, Prime Minister Modi had said in the Parliament that just because we have a majority, it does not give us a right to do anything as per our whims and fancies. Unfortunately, you and your party have failed us today, Mr. Prime Minister. I feel that today is a black day in the history of India just like May 19, 1986, when the Rajiv Gandhi government passed the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act overturning the Supreme Court judgement on Shah Bano case.

A few months ago, Amit Shah had told those who were missed out of the National Registry of Citizens (NRC) need not worry because we are bringing in the CAB. What he did not say was that when a person is trying to be a part of the NRC, they will submit documents to prove that they are an Indian citizen. But, if they want to get citizenship under the CAB, they will first have to prove that they are a non-Indian citizen,  either a Bangladeshi, a Pakistani, or an Afghani, who entered India before December 31, 2014.

Smriti Irani

How do you expect people from states like Assam to submit documents in favour of their citizenship when the state witnesses flood almost every year. When floods come, you run to save your life and not to save the documents from the 50s or 60s. The fate of millions of people os based on submission of documents in a country where the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi and former Education Minister, Smriti Irani still have not produced their graduation certificates in the public domain.

When you claim to be a party which furthers Hindu interests, why have you left behind the Hindus of Sri Lanka on your list? Or maybe, as former UN Under-Secretary-General and Congress MP, Shashi Tharoor, is right when he says that you’re interested only in the Hindi-speaking Hindus!

When you talk about giving shelter to prosecuted minorities, why are you leaving behind the Tamils of Sri Lanka, the Shias of Afghanistan, the Ahmadi Muslims of Pakistan, and the Rohingyas of Myanmar? Is their pain lesser than the pains of the six religious groups you mentioned in the Bill?

Why did you leave behind China at all? The world knows the plight of Uighur Muslims of China who are detained in camps and the Tibetan Buddhists who face discrimination of all forms. Why this favoritism, then? Maybe, because you know that you can handle Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan but not China on international platforms.

PM Modi.

Today, the government has proved that if you give them a majority, they will act only for their own interests. They will leave no stone unturned to make sure that their voter base remains happy. They are making a mockery of democracy because they know that the opposition is considered to be irrelevant today. I just hope that this is not the beginning of the end.

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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.

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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.

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