Sunday, April 21, 2019

All you need to know about National Register of Citizens (NRC)

National Register of Citizens (NRC)

India has a large swathe of land that make border with many countries. Due to uneven landscape it is virtually impossible to fence or seal the border completely. In past, the porous border causes lots of illegal migration from various countries, especially from Bangladesh and Myanmar to Assam. The National Register of Citizens (NRC) tries to deal with the major problem of illegal migration from Bangladesh in Assam. 



NRC takes into account the exact number of outsiders in the population of the state. The idea of getting rid of "outsiders" has two implications-
1. By adoption of the draft NRC, the illegal migrants would be chucked out.
2. Those in the draft get the stamp of identity from what is considered a due and impartial process.

Outsiders in NRC:

  • A section believe that NRC endorses "son of soil" act that would harm not only the legal identity, but also the dignity and sense of autonomy, thereby questioning their place in larger world. 
  • There is a question of morality and humanity with regards to outsiders in NRC is unresolved. The term other is a problematic word.  

Who are outsiders? :

  • Citizenship Amendment bill, 2016 lets those from the other side is based on their religion. This bill declares Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsi and Christians fleeing religious persecution from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh as not being illegal migrants for the purpose of the Citizenship Act, 1955. It also reduces the time requires for such persons from these countries to obtain citizenship by naturalization from 11 years to 6 years. 
  • A Large section believe that this bill tries to remake the notion of Indian citizenship from a secular conception to a religious one and goes against Art 14 of Indian constitution. It is argued if the union govt was genuine about sheltering vulnerable minorities, it should include Ba
  • ha'is, Shias and Ahmadias, among others, who face persecution in Sunni Muslim majority countries for insufficiently or improperly Islamic. 
  • Role of Supreme Court:

  • Supreme Court has decided that it will judicially oversee the process of updating the NRC which is supposed to help identify Indian citizens residing in Assam in accordance with the Citizenship Act, 1955 and Assam accord. 
  • The first draft published in 2017 include only 1.9 crore names (less than 60% of state's population), causing panic among masses but averted on the promise that more names to come. 
  • A section considers it non-transparent and questioned the neutrality of presiding judge, Justice Ranjan Gogoi , who himself hails from Assam. 
  • It has led to a court that has discarded procedure, caused grievous injury to vulnerable communities and diminished its own credibility through its overreach on matters.

Way Forward :

  • NRC should be made public and create an orderly mechanism for those aggrieved by exclusion to exhaust judicial remedies in accordance with law, without prejudicing their rights in any matter whatsoever. 
  • NRC is not a new concept in Asia, and the region saw many crisis in the name of illegal migrants issue. There is a need to include basic human rights alongwith the constitutional mandate. India should present the picture of a peaceful and tolerant nation from the draft. All the stakeholders need to be given a voice, so that an inclusive draft can be made.
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