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ET GBS 2020: Government reassures minorities on Citizenship Act

The PM set the tone on Friday when, in his address, he questioned the Opposition’s double-speak and termed the CAA as well as other measures such as scrapping Article 370 in Jammu & Kashmir as his government “doing the right things”. “People who lecture the world on the rights of migrants oppose the CAA, which has been brought in for migrants,” Modi said.

ET Bureau|
Last Updated: Mar 09, 2020, 06.57 AM IST
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Defence sector planned to grow to $26 billion by 2025: Rajnath Singh at ET GBS 2020
Defence sector planned to grow to $26 billion by 2025: Rajnath Singh at ET GBS 2020
NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and two senior Cabinet colleagues — defence minister Rajnath Singh and external affairs minister S Jaishankar — made a strong political pitch at the ET Global Business Summit that the Citizenship (Amendment) Act protects the rights of migrants, reduces the number of stateless people and does not discriminate against minorities.

The PM set the tone on Friday when, in his address, he questioned the Opposition’s double-speak and termed the CAA as well as other measures such as scrapping Article 370 in Jammu & Kashmir as his government “doing the right things”.

“People who lecture the world on the rights of migrants oppose the CAA, which has been brought in for migrants,” Modi said.

There’s Confusion Over CAA, Need to Dispel Fears, Says Rajnath Singh
Singh expanded on the issue on Saturday at the ET GBS when he said that PM Modi was pained by baseless allegations made against his government. “I can speak for the government and the PM, because I also understand the intention very well — no decision would be taken on communal basis. Till this government is here, till this PM is here, discrimination among Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs or Christians will always be a crime,” the defence minister said.Amid increased international scrutiny on the issue, Jaishankar said at the summit on Saturday that India was not adding to the population of stateless people. “We have tried to reduce the number of stateless people through this legislation, and that should be appreciated.”

A major criticism of the CAA has been that it omits Muslims while mentioning Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains and Christians from neighbouring countries who will benefit from the law. Hence, the Opposition says, the Act discriminates against the Muslims. Singh tried to address this at the ET GBS, saying the word ‘minorities’ was not used in the CAA because if other countries change the definition of their minorities in future,India would notbe able to give them citizenship based on religious persecution. “That is why we have not used the word minorities,” Singh clarified.

He also mentioned that the Bill for the law was first framed under his watch as the home minister in 2016. This seemed to be an attempt to address the perception that the Modi government in its second term had rushed in a series of decisions ‘targeting’ Muslims, such as scrapping Article 370 in J&K, triple talaq law and the CAA. “I don’t think any Indian citizen, whether Muslim or any other, should feel threatened with that (CAA),” Singh said. He also referred to statements by Jawaharlal Nehru and Mahatma Gandhi that India should worry about minorities in Pakistan. “The way minorities are being treated in Pakistan, there was no other option for us,” Singh said.

There has also been criticism that the government has failed to convince the anti-CAA protesters. Singh cautioned on this point, admitting that there could be some confusion over the CAA and that there was a need to dispel this misunderstanding. “At my rally in Meerut,Ihadsaidthat asfar as minorities of the nation are concerned, no one dare touch them… even with tongs,” he said.

Jaishankar emphasised that every country makes laws to grant citizenship based on some social criteria. “Show me a country which says everybody in the world is welcome. Nobody does that. Look at the Americans, look at the Europeans. I can give you an example for every European country. What are the criteria of a citizenship that they do, and there are some social criteria.”The external affairs minister also took on the UN Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), which has sought to file an intervening application in the Supreme Court against the CAA. Jaishankar questioned the OHCHR’s record on Jammu & Kashmir and pointed out that the body “had been wrong before”. He said he had impressed upon 27 foreign ministers during a meeting in Brussels that India was trying to reduce the number of stateless people in the country through the CAA to avoid getting into bigger problems, and that every government or parliament has the right to set the terms for naturalisation or citizenship.
(Catch all the Business News, Breaking News Events and Latest News Updates on The Economic Times.)

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