The Economist criticises PM’s ‘divisive and discriminatory’ policies like the CAA, NRC that ‘imperil the idea of India as the world’s largest democracy’


Days after India fell10 places on the global Democracy Index ranking landing the 51st spot, it was called out for the ‘erosion of civil liberties’ in The Economist’s January 23, 2020 cover titled Intolerant India – How Modi is endangering the world’s biggest democracy. The editorial criticised the Modi government over the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) and the contentious National Register of Citizens (NRC), stating that it “imperils the inspiring idea of India as the world’s largest democracy”.

As nationwide protests against the CAA and the NRC continue unabated, and Home Minister Amit Shah making the government’s stand amply clear – We won’t take back CAA, protest all you want, he had said in a rally in Lucknow earlier this week – The Economist, one of the world’s most respected news magazines, stated “Narendra Modi’s sectarianism is eroding India’s secular democracy”.

The cover features a lotus on a barbed wire fence probably a metaphor for the party’s anti-immigration policy.

Calling out Modi for “stoking divisions in the world’s biggest democracy”, the article said adding that “India’s 200 million Muslims fear the Prime Minister is building a Hindu state”.

“By undermining the secular principles of the constitution, Mr Modi’s latest initiatives threaten to do damage to India’s democracy that could last for decades,” it said.

The article also warned that a “sustained persecution” of one group is a threat to all and puts the political system “at risk”.

Highlighting the blatantly discriminatory policies of the Modi government, the piece also lambasted Modi saying that “by perpetually firing up Hindus and infuriating Muslims, the BJP makes fresh bloodshed more likely.”

Over 25 people have died in violence during anti-CAA protests across the country; several citizens have also complained of police brutality while in detention.

Calling the Citizenship (Amendment) Act as the NDA government’s “most ambitious step yet in a decadeslong project of incitement”, the editorial added that the Modi government’s policies may have helped him win two consecutive general elections, but they have proven to be “political poison” for the country and could lead to bloodshed.

Sketching the rise of the BJP with the movement for a Ram temple in the 1980s, the article argued that by creating divisions over religion and national identity; by constantly insinuating Muslims as “the dangerous fifth state”, the party has succeeded in keeping its support base energised and taken the focus away from a faltering economy.

The magazine adds that the proposed National Register of Citizens will help the saffron party further its divisive agenda as the exercise could “drag on for years, inflaming passions over and over again, as the list is compiled, challenged and revised”.

In the process, the magazine claims, Modi will project itself as the saviour of the 80 per cent Hindu population of the country.

“The citizenship row is only the latest in a series of affronts, from the BJP’s lionising of vigilantes thought to have killed Muslims to the collective punishment of the people of the Kashmir Valley, who have suffered arbitrary arrests, smothering curfews and an internet blackout for five months,” the article added.

The BJP hit back, with party leader Vijay Chauthaiwale calling The Economist “arrogant”, with a “colonial mindset”.

“We thought the Brits had left in 1947! But the editors of @TheEconomist are still living in in colonial era. They are furious when 600m Indians do not follow their explicit instructions of not voting Modi (sic),” tweeted the BJP’s foreign policy in-charge.


The magazine’s January cover


Around 80 Muslim BJP leaders in Madhya Pradesh resigned from the primary membership of the party in protest over the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, calling it a “divisive” measure. One of the leaders, Rajik Qureshi Farshiwala, said around 80 partymen wrote to the newly-appointed national president J P Nadda on Thursday. These leaders, who dubbed the CAA “a divisive provision made on religious grounds”, include several office-bearers of the BJP’s minority cell. “It was becoming increasingly difficult for us to participate in our community’s events after the CAA came into existence. “At these events, people used to curse us and ask us how long we plan to keep quiet on a divisive law like the CAA?” he said. “Persecuted refugees of any community should get Indian citizenship. You cannot decide that a particular person is an intruder or a terrorist merely on the basis of religion,” Farshiwala added. In their letter, the Muslim leaders stated, “Citizens have right to equality under Article 14 of the Indian Constitution. But the BJP-led Central Government is implementing the CAA on religious grounds. “This is an act of dividing the country and against the basic spirit of the Constitution.” Some of the leaders who have resigned are considered close to BJP general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya.

Much brouhaha over poha: Twitter relishes BJP leader’s remark on ‘Bangladeshi’ workers


BJP leader Kailash Vijayvargiya drew heavy flak from the Opposition and citizens alike for his “poha” remark that ‘profiled people on the basis of food habits’. Vijayvargiya on Thursday had said that he suspected that there were some Bangladeshis among construction labourers who worked at his house in Indore recently. A user wrote: “I am Punjabi and I am eating poha right now. Poha has nothing to do with Bangladesh.” Comparing the statement to NRC row, another user wrote: “According to BJP leader Kailash Vijayvargiya – if you eat Poha, you must be Bangladeshi. No need to show them documents for NRC now. You can just show them your food.” “Labourers who eat just Mysorepak must be illegal immigrants from Pak,” quipped one, while another wrote, “My dhobi showed up eating a burger. I think he’s American.”

No blanket ban on invoking NSA against protestors: SC

The Supreme Court Friday said it cannot issue blanket orders restraining authorities from invoking the stringent National Security Act (NSA) against people protesting the enactment of Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA).

NSA cannot be allowed to be misused, a bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Indira Banerjee said but added that there cannot be a general command as public properties are being burnt during the protests and it may be organised.