CAA and NRC: An FAQ

Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC) have caused quite a bit of commotion in India in the year 2019. The commotion is dying down – I mean, people and monkeys always move on to the shiny new thing.

But it so happens that people of any repute including politicians, the great youth of India, the intelligentsia, technologists, neighbourhood vegetable vendors, security guards, the traffic cop who caught me standing on a zebra, spiritual Gurus (w/ a capital G), Martians, Dwarves and the puppy that I abandoned – all had to say something or a lot of things about CAA/NRC/both. They continue to do that about a ‘so 2019’ thing and there is no way I can ignore such a matter of great discussion.

And, there is also this matter of me not able to stay away from the lure of idiocy from time to time (or always?). After all, I lay claim to the elite branch of that general group and that group thrives in all “discussions” and “debates”. This post is a general FAQ to my future self on CAA/NRC.

If it’s not clear enough – I am not an expert.

If you are any kind of expert (most are, so it is best to double-check with your mother, neighbour or nearest mirror), if you passionately love/adore CAA/NRC/both, or passionately hate CAA/NRC/both – close the browser, take a deep breath, and fuck off in whatever general direction that you can find.

No one asked me for my opinion. And, no one asked me to breathe or to act stupid. Yet, I continue to dole out such acts of magnificence.

CAA/NRC is so 2019. Why do this now?

Well, as I see it – we are getting started with the two acts and with 2020. I want to leave my mark on stupid-land.

Also, there is quite some way to go. NRC is complex. In Assam took some 50,000 officials and a long time, and we did not get it right so far. If at all we want to go the way of extending it to all states – grab a truckload of supplies (popcorn/chips/nippattu/other?) and dig in to watch the fun over 3-10 years or more.

What is CAA/NRC?

They are laws enacted by the Government of India.

NRC: Register citizens of India.

CAA: Reduce residency time requirements to get Indian citizenship for refugees.

Aren’t these functions covered elsewhere?

Yes and no.

NRC: There are functions and artefacts like Adhaar, passport, voter’s card and a myriad of others that “prove” Indian citizenship as of “that” date.

CAA: People apply have been applying and will continue to apply for Indian citizenship like they always did. CAA just flexes requirements for particular groups.

Are CAA and NRC linked?

No.

Our Government says they are distinct, are not related and wonders why anyone would link them.

There are some who say they are dangerous when linked together and everything is context.

Personally I don’t think we have the ability to think straight over a period of three months. So, I would not prepare for the apocalypse.

I am a citizen of India. Am I impacted?

No.

At least not in the physical sense.

CAA is applicable to the entire country.

NRC is applied to certain regions. The stated intent is to extend NRC to the entire country.

If you are one of those types who boasted about our country being non-discriminatory based on religion – yes, you should arm yourself with some more information to participate in useless discussions and debates on social media, and over coffee or alcohol.

But, seriously? Did you think all this time that we were not discriminated based on anything? Do you live in India and on this planet at all?

  • Schools, your workplace, your apartment, and your dog want to know your religion, race, creed, mother tongue, caste, state, region, language, skin colour, eye colour, whether you do nail polish and whether you indeed eat mangoes in winter (it is called pickles for a reason, you savages)
  • You are given privileges or you forego privileges based on religion, region, caste and creed. Groups often fight to secure a better percentage of said privileges
  • Entry to establishments (religious or otherwise) is linked to religions, regions and such.

I am an Indian non-Muslim / Indian Muslim. Should I be bothered?

Did you even read the previous question?

Be warned – If you keep answering “yes” to this question, and keep going back to the previous one – that is an infinite loop and your brain could explode.

So, why are Indian Muslims worried?

I can’t speak for Muslims as one among them. But, that does not keep me from blabbering on.

At a superficial level – I don’t like it if someone takes off any privilege for a group that I identify with. Even if I am not impacted by the said privilege.

Let’s say I am a Wood Elf and bonafide citizen of Pluto. Pluto is a haven for all but suddenly recognizes that it could be a haven for even more people who walked over from the so-called planets. You, of course, welcome the intrusion if it doesn’t threaten your livelihood, and way of life. But, you would not be so excited if it contained a clause like so – “all are welcome except wood elves”. That clause “kind of” challenges the superiority of your identity (“All wood elves deserve Pluto today and heaven later”) regardless of assurances that existing wood elves continue as-is until the sun gobbles up the entire solar system.

Next level: when individual ties his identity to a “thing” and perceives any act to be threatening to the “thing” – the said act is perceived to be threatening to the individual. This works for the most part in nature – a tiger is equally threatening to all rabbits. But, that does not carry the exact same meaning for “what happens next” story in one’s brain. Perceived threats are amplified since that’s how humans evolved in the physical realm.

.. so, why is the so-called intelligentsia worried?

  1. At a superficial level – people fear that the acts imply discrimination based on religion – no matter the target audience
  2. There is a perceived fear for the future where such discrimination is extended to more factors

That’s a load of bollocks. People are always nice and don’t do any such thing.

  1. How long ago did you check whether you are human?
  2. “Us” vs. “them” is a great galvaniser from time immemorial. Recent history has examples like Nuremberg laws. Yes, this is not a direct comparison – it goes to show how privileges can be taken from people based on religion

.. but what about all those persecuted people?

The people from other countries who seek refuge and apply for citizenship from India – do they not live second-hand lives just because there is no CAA?

  1. Refugees are granted citizenship even today – takes longer to get around though. Meaning a citizenship act was present already and this is an amendment
  2. Official estimates put impacted people to be ~30K+ and maybe lakhs (?) queued up. As far as I can see (and I am near-sighted) – people are not making a beeline to enter India
  3. There are far more problems that need immediate attention. But hey – whatever rocks your boat harder can be the problem of the day or moment.

.. should I be worried?

Of course not.

You should be worried about the deeper philosophical implications of “I” rather than two acts passed by a country’s Government.

.. should I be worried about humanity’s future?

Again, no.

We need experts to understand a language commonly spoken 500 years ago. Regions and identities form and break up all the time. So, I don’t think you should worry about humanity’s future.

Also, you have many things that you can be distracted about – AI, an asteroid hitting earth, solar flares, people returning to being savages in Star Wars, and onion prices.

At a deeper level: identifying with anything is “attachment”. Getting attached causes suffering. This is yet another example of how Buddha was thoroughly effective in communicating matters of great significance in simple terms.

Digging further, because, why not. If all reality, all past and all future are something that we perceive here and now – this is only a moment that the universal consciousness experiences while moving to other exciting, boring, scary experiences.

Does this mean you hate your country?

Also.. in other words –

  • Do you want to move to “XYZ” country or Mars?
  • Are you <insert oh-so-smart name-calling here>?

No.

So, shouldn’t you be not talking “bad things” about country, Govt. & people?

No.

And.. “what!?”

Should I participate in “hot”/”chilly” debates about this topic?

Sure.

.. with you?

No.

.. but, why?

Is it because you are afraid to lose in the face of great arguments?

Absolutely.

What message(s) should I carry from this post?

  1. Dogs are infinitely better than cats
  2. The Matrix is the best movie ever made
  3. You shall see whatever you want to see
  4. Don’t change the world. Change yourself.
  5. We are not that significant and important as we think we are. “I” am everything and needs better attention in the world

I may not have elucidated as much – but they are true and matter to a lot of people.

And, this makes sense..

So does this..

We suffer more often in imagination than in reality.

– Seneca