The Preamble declares India to be a sovereign, socialist, secular, and a democratic republic. But, has our country been meeting all these attributes well? Had this question been raised a few years ago, the answer could have been different, but now, the answer can be in the negative only.
The present government, since it came to power back in 2014, has been showing up its outright bias towards the religious and caste-based minority communities. Be it the Abrogation of Article 370 and declaring Jammu and Kashmir a union territory, or the latest Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), most of the bills passed and laws made have clearly been discriminatory, particularly against the Muslim community.
Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, and the Union Home Minister, Amit Shah, have repeatedly maintained that they have never indulged in anything that differentiates people on the basis of religion. However, their actions have presented a completely different story.
As we know, the CAA has been met with nationwide protests because it clearly excludes persecuted Muslim refugees from being able to seek shelter in this country. Now, the National Population Register (NPR) has also given a clear indication of further secluding the Muslim community.
In what is being considered as another example of the Modi government’s anti-Muslim bias, the government’s calendar prepared for NPR officials does not include Muslim festivals. However, the page number 32 of the manual includes Hindu and Christian festivals clearly. So, is this a deliberate action? If so, then what exactly is the government trying to prove by violating the secular status of the country that has been preserved since Independence?
Recently, the government announced the collection of NPR data along with the house-listing phase of the Census 2021, which will be carried out from April to September 2020. The NPR declaration has been met with substantial apprehensions and protests in different parts of the country because it is seen as a precursor to a country-wide National Register of Citizens (NRC).
State governments, including West Bengal, have announced that they would not allow the execution of the project in their states. It is important to note that the 2011 NPR manual also used the same list of festivals. This can be used as an argument that this exclusion was not intended. So, it is important for us to wait and watch to see how things will develop over time.