( The Resolution adopted by the Central Committee of the CPI(ML) Red Star on launching the campaign Against Theoretical Base of RSS)
Launch Countrywide Campaign Against Manuvadi Hindutva, Theoretical Base of RSS Neo- Fascism!
Organize Campaign from 28th September, Shahid Bhagat Singh birthday, to 25th December, when Manusmrithi was burnt at Nagpur in 1927 by women, dalits, and other oppressed sections under the leadership of Dr. Ambedkar!
Compatriots, friends and comrades!
Presently we are witnessing all round intensification of corporate loot using the cover of Covid19 making tens of millions jobless and extremely pauperized. Along with this, the fascist offensive of RSS parivar is intensifying. Fascism has always emerged and developed as an outcome of the extreme intensification of the internal contradictions under the rule of finance capital. Presently, fascism has broken out as RSS fascism in our country on the Hindutva Manuvadi theoretical basis. When the contradictions in the capitalist imperialist countries as well as in all other countries ruled by their junior partners have sharpened and has led to a severe internal crisis which cannot be resolved through normal methods of surplus value extraction from both internal and external sources, the ruling corporate classes elevate the fascist forces to power. What happened in India? As the hitherto main ruling class party, the Congress, could not resolve the crisis during its decade long UPA rule, the openly fascist RSS/BJP was elevated to power under the leadership of Modi in 2014. Following this the working class and all oppressed classes and sections have come under the consequences of the economic crisis intensified further by the Covid19 pandemic under the corporate fascist rule of Modi led by RSS fascism.
Already, the struggle against it has started emerging and developing in various forms in different areas. Spontaneous movements of youth and students have also started. It is the task of the revolutionary left forces to unite with all struggling forces, so that the Modi government can be increasingly challenged in the streets. At the same time, the Modi government led by RSS/BJP is using the increasing threat from the Covid19 pandemic, zingoism whipped up using India-China border standoff etc to divert the attention of the people from their immediate problems. It is also resorting to intensifying saffronization of all fields of life as well as the state machinery for it. The 5th August Bhoomipuja for Ram temple, and the kar-seva by thousands of RSS men are also used to expand the majoritarian Hindutva aura around it. The soft Hindutva line of Congress and most of the opposition parties is in effect helping BJP in this.
Though these opposition parties and the Left Front parties led by CPI(M) are politically campaigning against the suppression of all political dissent and transferring all burden of the economic crisis and the pandemic crisis over the masses, they do not attack the Hindutva theoretical base of the RSS. Only a small section of revolutionary intellectuals and revolutionary left forces are attacking the Hindutva Manuvaddi fascist line of RSS/BJP. As the Bihar elections are coming nearer, the Mahagadbandhan of opposition parties is not putting forward an alternative to fascist BJP/JDU alliance. So, even if BJP is defeated, the RSS base is not going to be weakened. After an interlude it can come back with added force using the theoretical base of RSS. So, if the RSS is not weakened and defeated by attacking its theoretical base, consistently through uninterrupted campaigns, through ideological, cultural attacks on its Brahmanical, Manuvadi Hindutva line, along with the struggles in other fields, this theoretical roots of the corporate fascist rule cannot be destroyed.
So, the CC calls for mobilizing a powerful all round campaign, taking lessons from the experience of the renaissance movement, and the hitherto theoretical struggle against the RSS and its ideology, and in continuation to these. As a new beginning, the CC has called for an All India campaign from 28th September, the birth day of Shahid Bhagat Singh, to 25th December, the 93rd anniversary of burning of Manusmrithi at Nagpur in 1927 before a large mobilization of women, dalits and other oppressed sections, under the leadership of Dr. Ambedkar, soon after the formation of RSS in 1925 with Manusmrithi as its theoretical base. Its anniversary is observed as the Women’s Liberation Day every year. While the Party is launching such a campaign of great significance uniting with the mass organizations active among women, youth, students, and cultural field, and the Caste Annihilation Movement, the CC calls for active efforts to bring organizations of dalits, Adivasis and other oppressed peoples also in this platform. This theoretical offensive against RSS should target Manusmrithi, Bunch of Thoughts, Savarker's writings, and all basic documents of RSS. To make this campaign successful, all out efforts should be made to ensure participation of the revolutionary intellectuals who have made significant contribution in exposing the theoretical base of RSS through their articles and campaigns already.
Presently, not only Congress and other ruling class parties, but BSP like organizations which had campaigned against Manusmrithi once, are also compromising with the ruling ideas of ruling RSS/BJP. While the liberal bourgeois intellectuals have more or less become the supporters of RSS parivar, the CPI(M) intellectuals are also writing about ‘positive things’ in Ramayana, Githa, Manusmrithi, Ananth madh etc. Many so-called left intellectuals are even compromising with saffron forces. So, launching a theoretical offensive against the fascist ideology of RSS will help to expose these opportunist positions; It will help to launch an uncompromising ideological struggle against the ideology of RSS based on Marxist-Leninist positions; and it shall inspire the new generation of youth and students to study more about RSS ideology, and the Marxist theory which paves the way for launching class struggle in all fields, including the fields of theory and revolutionary practice, with an all-embracing, comprehensive perspective, and advancing to the social change which shall herald the creation of a casteless, genuinely secular democratic and egalitarian society.
The CC of the CPI(ML) Red Star appeals to all progressive, democratic, struggling forces who aspire for the overthrow of all forces of reaction, and creation of a new society with the annihilation all inequalities based on gender, race, caste etc and with socialist orientation to actively participate in this campaign.
Central Committee, CPI(ML) Red Star, dated 21st September, 2020.
The Union Ministry of Human Resource Development has drastically changed the syllabus for the CBSE students in the name of cutting down 30% of the burden on the students. According to the Union Minister for HRD Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank it is done in view of the “extraordinary situation prevailing in the country and the world. The government has done this as a part of its attempt to ‘rationalise syllabus up to 30% by retaining the core concepts.” This rationalization includes discovering that the high-school students need not study the chapters on federalism, citizenship, nationalism, and secularism in the political science curriculum of Class 11.
Political Science topics CBSE deleted include:
- Local Governments
- Why do we need Local Governments?
- Growth of Local Government in India
- Environment and Natural Resources
- Changing nature of India’s economic development Planning Commission and Five-year Plans
- India’s Relations with its Neighbours: Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Myanmar
History topics CBSE deleted include:
- Understanding Partition
- Peasants, Zamindars and the State
- Colonial Cities
- Early Societies
- Nomadic Empires
- Confrontation of Cultures
Legal Studies topics CBSE deleted include:
- Historical context of Human Rights in India
- History of the Legal Profession in India
- Classification of Lawyers: Roles and Functions
- Legal Profession in other Jurisdictions (This includes Legal Education in the US, UK and other countries like France, Germany, Singapore, People's Republic of China and Australia)
- Brief history of legal services
- Legal background – Free Legal Aid under International law, the Indian legal system
- Hierarchy of Legal Aid Service Authorities – The Central Authority, The State Authority, The District Authority and Taluk Legal Services Committee
- Administrative Law
In English Core topics CBSE deleted include:
- Writing Classified Advertisements
- Letters to the editor (giving suggestions/opinions on an issue)
- Application for a job with a bio-data or résumé
- Article & Report Writing
- Narrative Grammar
- Change of Voice
- Error Correction, editing task/cloze passages
In an official communication HRD Minister Pokhriyal had also informed that a few weeks ago, he invited suggestions from all educationists on the reduction of syllabus on social media. He said changes made in the syllabi were finalised by various course committees and approved by the curriculum committee and governing body of the board. The CBSE has not told heads of schools to ensure that students are informed about the topics that have been reduced. However the reduced syllabus will not be part of the topics for Internal Assessment and year-end Board Examination.
On the one hand starting with the draft national Education Policy, 2016, whatever positive elements were remaining in the public school system were attacked and removed, Following this under World Ban pressure the commercialization and corporatization of education was intensified under proposals in the NEP 2019. Utilizing Covid as a cover, the NEP 2020 is speeded up to transform the public education to informal studies for the vast majority who are from the marginalized sections. Along with these structural changes are implemented to make online education as the informal education model. Now the attack on all progressive elements in the syllabus are also getting eliminated.
We appeal to all democratic forces to oppose and defeat these ever-intensifying onslaught on the field of education to transform it to suit the needs of corporate forces
In conversation with the noted historian on the history of the land dispute, how the issue was communalised, why he thinks it cannot be said that there was a temple under the Babri Masjid, and more.
Eminent historian Dwijendra Narayan Jha pioneered studies on material culture in early Indian history. In his academic career spanning more than 35 years, he undertook extensive research on society and the economy in ancient India, and probed different dimensions of feudalism in early medieval India. As a professional historian, he actively intervened in contemporary political debates that derived their relevance from historical studies. In the process, he was targeted by multiple Hindutva organisations rather frequently. For instance, when his book The Myth of the Holy Cow brought out historical references about beef eating in sub-continental dietary habits in ancient India, he became the target of all those who disliked his conclusions. He has always valued historical evidence over myths, and at most times been on the wrong side of the powerful.
He was a part of a team of independent historians who scrutinised historical and archaeological evidence to dismiss the notion in its report that there was a Hindu temple underneath the Babri mosque. In this detailed interview to The Wire by Ajoy Ashirwad Mahaprashasta, he trashes the theory that the Babri mosque in Ayodhya was built by demolishing a Hindu temple. He also speaks of how Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) shifted its stand on the issue and, thus helped the Sangh parivar foment a Hindu-Muslim conflict around the Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid issue.
The Supreme Court will be giving its verdict on Allahabad high court judgment soon. Thus, the dispute has become topical again. How, as a professional historian, do you look at it?
The Ayodhya dispute has been hanging fire for a long time now. Hindus and Muslims have been fighting over the control of the disputed site. As I have said in my earlier interviews to the media, I see it as a battle between faith and rationality. For it is impossible to prove that Ram was born within the limits of 2.77 acre of the disputed land in Ayodhya. I don’t see any logic in this faith. And as a professional historian I think history cannot be written on the basis of faith; whatever is written or spoken about on its basis is only fantasy.
You were a part of the team of historians that wrote “Ramjanmabhumi-Baburi Masjid: A Historians’ Report to the Nation”. What were your main findings?
First, I would like to clarify that the four historians – Suraj Bhan, Athar Ali, R.S. Sharma and I – who authored the report were independent of the government and of the two contending parties to the dispute. This effectively meant lack of cooperation from them.
But despite this, we were able to produce the report. We examined all the textual and archaeological evidence and came to the conclusion that there was no Hindu temple beneath the mosque.
How do you assess the role of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) in fomenting the conflict? The ASI report built its theory that the masjid was built on a Hindu temple on the basis of “pillar bases” that it supposedly found. What is your take?
The ASI and the Hindu party have argued for the existence of the temple on the basis of “pillar bases”. But there are some points to be clarified about them. First the attitude of B.B. Lal, the former director-general of the ASI, who first excavated at Ayodhya, has been shifting his stand about them. In his first report, he does not mention the pillar bases. In 1988, Lal presented a paper at the ICHR (Indian Council of Historical Research) seminar which also is totally silent about the pillar bases; and when he delivered a lecture on the historicity of the Ramayana he made no reference to the pillar bases.
But soon after the shilanyas in November 1989, Lal underwent a metamorphosis and in October 1990, in a paper published in an RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) publication, he referred to a pillared structure adjacent to the mosque; this was nearly 15 years after he excavated at Ayodhya. Scholars grow all the time and they may modify their opinion from time to time. But Lal grew at a frenetic pace and this makes his finding of pillar bases suspect.
Second, the 14 black stone pillars with non-Islamic motifs, which we found embedded at the arched entrances of the mosque were decorative pieces and not load bearing. The four historians wanted to examine the issue further but the ASI did not give them the site notebook.
Has the ASI made its report available to historians and archaeologists for assessment?
I have not seen the final report on the excavations carried under the court orders but those archaeologists and historians who have read it have trashed it. First, the ASI archaeologists who carried out the excavation did not observe the scientific norms which should have been observed in such an exercise. Second, the excavation was carried out with preconceived ideas about the presence of the temple. Third, the report suppresses evidence. For example, animal bones, gazed ware and glazed tiles, which have been found at the various levels, do not find any mention in the report.
You have been of the view that faith has superseded history/historical fact in the way a majority of Indians, and even the courts, have come to understand the demolition of Babri Masjid. Why do you think so?
In my view, it is only faith of the Hindu parties that was the overriding consideration for the Allahabad high court. The historical evidence was totally relegated to the background; it was trashed.
How did the notion that Babri Masjid was built at the site of Ram Janmabhoomi become popular? What are the textual and other references of Ram temples in Indian history?
The first known Sanskrit text to place Lord Rama’s birth place in a locality of Ayodhya is the Skanda Puråna. It has several versions, and is full of interpolations. The Ayodhyamahtmya itself (which forms part of Skanda Purana) is probably an interpolation of the late 18th or early 19th century.
Judging by its internal evidence, it is not earlier than 1600 (C.E). Of more than 30 sacred sites it mentions it names one as janmasthana. Interestingly, the compilers of the text devote eight verses to the janmasthana but 100 verses to the place whence he is supposed to have gone to heaven. The place is called the svargadwara. So the text on which the VHP (Vishwa Hindu Parishad) and other groups are relying attaches greater importance to his passing away than to his birth!
The death of Rama was more important for the compilers of the text than the place of his birth. Also, the svargadwara is on the bank of the river Saryu, far away from the mosque site which is claimed to be the birthplace.
The French Jesuit priest Tifenthaller visited Ayodhya perhaps before 1765 and he for the first time referred to the destruction of the temple for the construction of the mosque. But it took time to become popular.
Was Ayodhya always regarded as a pilgrimage centre in historical texts? What does Tulsi Das’s Ramcharitmanas say about Ayodhya?
There is no evidence to show that Ayodhya was a Hindu pilgrimage centre in ancient times. And it had not emerged as one even as late as the 18th century. Tulsidas, the celebrated author of the Ramcharitmanas does not mention Ayodhya as a pilgrim centre. He suggests that it was not Ayodhya but Prayag that was to him the principal place of pilgrimage.
Is there a possibility that Ayodhya could have been a centre of other religions too, say Buddhism or Jainism?
There is evidence that Ayodhya was an important Buddhist centre in the early medieval period. Huen Tsang, the Chinese pilgrim who came to India in the seventh century, during the time of Harshvardhana, referred to Buddhist presence here. He recorded that there were 100 Buddhist monasteries but only ten abodes of devas [Brahmanical gods] at this place.
Ayodhya is also known as Saket which occurs in Buddhist as well as Jain scriptures. Moreover, Jains claim that it was the place of birth of Rishabnath, their earliest tirthankar. And Abu Fazl, mentions the tradition that two Jewish prophets lie buried at Ayodhya. So the town was of sacred importance for several religions.
How and when did the whole Ayodhya dispute take a communal turn, in your view? In fact, the Hindutva groups now claim that not just Babur but several other so-called Muslim rulers, including Aurangzeb and Tipu Sultan, destroyed many Hindu temples.
There is no doubt that the Muslim rulers destroyed Hindu temples. But we should remember that Hindus are more notorious in destroying the temples or places of worship. It can be proved that they destroyed innumerable religious establishments of Jains and Buddhists. Certainly it is a matter to be researched – who destroyed how many temples in the country.
There is not much evidence of communal conflict in medieval India. But at Ayodhya, the Hindu-Muslim clash took place in 1855, though the issue between the Hindus and Muslims was sorted out by the officers of the Nawab of Awadh. His officers settled the issue by allowing the idols being placed outside the mosque on what came to be known as Sita Ki Rasoi; a trust (Waqf) was also created. The property issue was finally settled in 1885 when the sub-judge of Faizabad and the Judicial Commissioner of Awadh decided that the Muslims continue their possession of the mosque and transferred Sita Ki Rasoi to the Hindus.
The matter should have remained settled but the situation changed with the rise of communalism in the 1930s.
A milestone in the communalisation of the dispute is December 1949 when the idol of Rama was surreptitiously put inside the mosque. The communalisation of the dispute received an unprecedented boost in 1984 when the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) was formed, with the slogan of building a Ram Temple at the site of the Babri Masjid.
In pre-independence India, were there scholars who studied the temple destruction theory? I remember you saying that a Scottish physician, Francis Buchanan, who worked with the Bengal Medical Service, visited Ayodhya in 1810 and rubbished this theory.
Of course, (H.M) Eliot and (John) Dawson wrote about the destruction of temples by Muslim rulers (in 1871) but did not study the problem as such. They, however, referred to the fact of destruction. The prominent historian to have made references to the destruction/desecration of Hindu temples was (historian) Jadunath Sarkar.
Do you think the courts should have involved historians and archaeologists in the whole adjudication process following the demolition?
Certainly. The historians should have been consulted in the adjudication process. I think a panel of international experts should have been entrusted the task of deciding whether there existed a temple under the mosque; judiciary alone is not equipped to pass judgment on a historical fact. But what can one expect from the judiciary which dismisses the report of historians and archaeologists as mere opinion?
Your team submitted your report to the government of India. How was its response?
We submitted our report to the government of India through Mr V.K. Dhall, in-charge of the Ayodhya cell in the PMO. But (we) never heard from him or anybody else from the government.
Finally, how does a lay person form an opinion on the matter amidst contrasting viewpoints of history? The proponents of a Ram temple in Ayodhya claim that only the so-called Marxist historians believe that there was no Hindu temple there.
The lay person has to be educated, and they should be convinced of a rational point of view. How one does it is a big problem. I have no ready answer for this. But make no mistake. The Marxists are not responsible for propagating the absence of the temple. The Hindutva groups are only raising a bogey of Marxism because they are unable to argue their case. n
Whenever I forward this scene in my mind, the entire history goes into rewind mode. When this scene gets blurred, the past gets crystal clear. When the past is blurred, I can see with clarity the history being created at present. If you have not studied history at ‘WhatsApp University’, you will understand what I am trying to convey. I hope the students who were forced to march hands up, will not feel insulted and understand that this is the new face of the Indian state; and this face is slowly being unveiled.
The Delhi Police have tackled thousands of agitations in the past. People, who took part in these demonstrations, often came face-to-face with the police. During the Nirbhaya agitation, protestors even marched to Raisina Hills, and slogans were raised against the police. The agitators, however, had a belief that police will not open fire at them. Watching students forced to move forward under the shadow of guns, that trust has been betrayed. The police have changed, as they don’t spray cold water to disperse crowd; they have guns.
The police which had gone inside Jamia to search for outsiders, came out with students. If you can’t find any wrong in their action, let me make this plain and simple for you: Your freedom of expression is being held hostage. The police are not ours, it is ‘theirs’. By ‘theirs’, I don’t mean the government, I mean the ‘state’. Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently talked about recognising people involved in Bengal violence by their clothes. The language used by him is not much different than the language and tone used on social media. It is obvious that this is the language of the ‘state’. This is the reason why Rajya Sabha MP Rakesh Sinha tweeted comparing the agitation at Jamia with Muslim League’s pre-Independence ‘direct action’. He identified Jamia, which was founded by Mahatma Gandhi.
In 1946, Muslim League’s call for ‘direct action’ resulted in riots in which thousands of Hindus were killed. Gandhi hadn’t observed what the rioters were wearing; he had visited Kolkata and had put an end to violence. He also went to Bihar where Hindus had killed Muslims. He had stopped bloodshed there too. Gandhi didn’t have much clothes on his body which is why he couldn’t observe the clothes of rioters. He had discovered the beauty of minds and souls
Rakesh Sinha’s tweet says this is not 1946, this is 2019. Mr Sinha appears to be the ‘Vice-Chancellor’ of the ‘WhatsApp University’, who wants to change the understanding of history in the name of expressing anger over violence at Jamia. He is linking a university which has a national character to Muslim League. He seems to have forgotten that 50% students at Jamia are non-Muslim. Even if there were 100 per cent Muslim students, would it have been right to link them to Muslim League? Are Mr Sinha and PM Modi not trying to recognise students on the basis of clothes and colour?
There is a grave problem in the way we perceive the country’s younger generation. We believe the younger generation is lost in the world of smartphones. We think they are lost in their favourite songs, wearing their earpieces. But our perception of them is far from reality. Recently, in Gujarat’s Gandhi Nagar, in the secretariat’s exam, hundreds of students had gathered to protest an alleged fraud. They had used their smartphone screens as torches in the agitation. The state government thought the protest would die down in some days. But as the students remained steadfast to their demands, the government had to cancel the examination.
In Uttar Pradesh, the exam to recruit 69,000 teachers trends on Twitter every day, but the media ignores it. Nobody cares why the people who cleared the Railways’ recruitment exam, which was announced during elections, have not received their appointment letters. You saw at Mandi House, disabled candidates protested over Railways’ exam for several days. In Dehradun, the students of Ayurvedic colleges protested against fee hike for 45 days.
When students protest in their universities, they are lectured that they are there to study. When they protest against the paucity of teachers, they are told they are not studying. When there are no teachers, how can they study. When the students of Jawaharlal Nehru University agitated against the hike in hostel fee, they were mocked, called urban naxals. Nobody then says how students from poor background will study if education gets expensive. Nobody was concerned that the students of Indian Institute of Mass Communication protested against fee hike for 16 days.
Those who lecture students have a pattern - they hate poor and lower-middle class students. That’s why they come forward with their argument that these students research till the age of 40 on their tax money. What has research to do with age? Hence, nobody should fall into their trap that they are concerned about education. Their problem is why students of these universities raise their voices against the government. Political opposition has weakened but in these universities, the voice of dissent is gaining strength. Such people have a problem with this voice
I am in touch with students of many universities for the last two years. I believe a large section of students has become communal, but in them remain alive tiny dreams of democracy. Sometimes, drawing strength from these dreams, they hit the streets against fee hike and for the declaration of their exam results. A day will come they will break free of their communal thinking. I get letters from students saying WhatsApp University had made them communal. They express regret. They are realising that India cannot develop if communalism persists. They were not there to see the horrors of partition in 1947, but they can very well see the horrors of partition in 2019. It is your fault that you are not able to understand India’s young generation.
You saw how Jamia’s students were evicted like criminals. There are two more photographs from Jamia. To save Shaheen Abdullah, Ayesha and Farzana took on the police. Girls are shielding a boy. They are standing taller than Jamia’s Gaalib statue. Another girl Chanda Yadav is standing with them shoulder-to-shoulder. This photograph should be stuck in every room of girls’ hostels. India will become as beautiful as their dreams and spirit. If you want to understand the new India, watch these two images from Jamia. You will feel good. Good luck, India!
Ravish Kumar is Managing Editor, NDTV India
Data from the National Population Register (NPR) Will be Used to Identify ‘Doubtful’ Citizens and, in Turn, Create a National Register of Citizens (NRC)
As protests sweep through India over the Citizenship Amendment Act as well as the National Register of Citizens, an inconspicuous bureaucratic process to create a National Population Register has come under fire. In West Bengal, the Mamata Banerjee government stayed work on the National Population Register on Monday citing the “interest of public order”. While the National Population Register has not made waves elsewhere, in West Bengal, activists and protesters have attacked the exercise, alleging that it is actually the first step to creating an all-India National Register of Citizens.
The National Register of Citizens is controversial: while its purported aim is to identify illegal immigrants, there are fears it could arbitrarily exclude genuine Indian citizens. Ignoring these concerns, Union Home Minister Amit Shah has said the Bharatiya Janata Party government will implement the NRC nationwide before 2024. The Bharatiya Janata Party has argued that the National Population Register has nothing to do with the National Register of Citizens and is part of the Census. Scroll.in spoke to experts as well as accessed the legal orders around the National Population Register and found this is not true. The NPR has no relation to the Census and is, in fact, connected to the proposed all-India NRC.
What is the NPR?
According to online literature published by the Union government, the objective of the National Population Register “is to create a comprehensive identity database of every usual resident in the country”. This database “would contain demographic as well as biometric particulars”. What sort of information would the National Population Register collect? Scroll.in has viewed the 14 questions that form part of the exercise, for which a pilot project began in August. The questions include demographic details such as name, age, sex, relationship in household, nationality, educational qualifications, occupation, date of birth, marital status, residential address, birthplace and mother tongue.
Till now, nothing here is very different from the usual data the Union government collects via the Census. But then, the National Population Register also asks a respondent where his or her parents were born. Moreover, the National Population Register also asks for Aadhaar details, driver’s licence, voter identity card and mobile number “if available”. An official told Scroll.in it is not mandatory for respondents to share this information. However, with many respondents likely to give their Aadhaar details, this will allow the Union government, for the first time, to connect their biometric details with information like the birthplace of their parents.
How is NPR linked to the NRC?
The legal framework for the National Population Register is grounded in the Citizenship Act, 1955. In 2003, the Act was amended by the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led BJP government to introduce the category of an “illegal migrant”. To implement this amendment, a set of rules were issued. (Rules are practical instructions on how to execute a law on the ground.) At the time, these rules barely created a ripple. But they set in place a mechanism that could turn Indian society and politics upside down since they lay out a process to create a National Register of Citizens: “the register containing details of Indian Citizens living in India and outside India”.
The rules read: “The Central Government shall, for the purpose of National Register of Indian Citizens, cause to carry throughout the country a house-to-house enumeration for collection of specified particulars relating to each family and individual, residing in a local area including the Citizenship status”. For administrative purposes, there are a nested collection of registers: the “National Register of Indian Citizens shall be divided into sub-parts consisting of the State Register of Indian Citizens, the District Register of Indian Citizens, the Sub-district Register of Indian Citizens and the Local Register of Indian Citizens”.
How would these registers of citizens be created? The rules explicitly spell it out: “The Local Register of Indian citizens shall contain details of persons after due verification made from the Population Register.” When the Local Register is generated from the Population Register, a “verification process” would be carried out which would create the category of “doubtful citizenship”. The final National Register of Citizens would be prepared by asking doubtful citizens to prove they are Indians as part of a “claims and objections” process.
This Population Register mentioned in the rules is nothing other than the National Population Register. In a gazette notification issued on July 31, 2019, the Modi government passed an order to “prepare and update the Population Register” in every state other than Assam. To sum up: the National Population Register would create a list of all the residents of the country. And then the National Register of Citizens would take that list and identify people of “doubtful citizenship” – thus, by corollary creating a list of citizens. It is this process that leads Prasenjit Bose, economist and convenor of the Joint Forum against National Register of Citizens, to describe the National Population Register as the “first step on the road to the National Register of Citizens”.
Ranjit Sur, from the Association for the Protection of Democratic Rights, concurs. “The only job of the National Population Register is to create an National Register of Citizens,” said Sur. “Let me emphasise on the ‘only’.” Protesters demonstrate amid tear gas fired by police during a demonstration against the Citizenship Amendment Bill in New Delhi on December 13. Credit: Reuters
How is the nationwide NRC different from the Assam NRC?
Notably, the National Register of Citizens process described above is different from the National Register of Citizens that has already taken place in Assam. This is because the 2003 rules carve out a special exception for the state.
In Assam, the National Register of Citizens would be created by “inviting applications from all the residents for collection of specified particulars relating to each family and individual, residing in a local area in the State including the citizenship status based on the National Register of Citizens 1951, and the electoral rolls up to the midnight of the 24th day of March 1971,” the 2003 rules state. In sharp contrast, the National Register of Citizens for the rest of India is to be drawn on the basis of the National Population Register.
As a result, there is a difference in how the National Register of Citizens for Assam and the rest of India will be conducted. “The Assam National Register of Citizens was populated using the application method but the all-India National Register of Citizens will be done through enumeration basis, by going house to house and collecting data in the form of the National Population Register,” explained Ranjit Sur. The Assam National Register of Citizens was widely criticised for being arbitrary. But now activists are noting that the National Population Register method that will be used to conduct the all-Indian National Register of Citizens is even more opaque. “In Assam, everyone knew the cut-off date and the documents required. Rich or poor, Hindu or Muslim, everyone had to stand in the same queue,” explained Prasenjit Bose. “But here everything is left to a bureaucrat. The state will decide who is a doubtful citizen and who is not. It is completely arbitrary.”
How is the NPR different from the Census?
That the National Population Register is part of the Census is a widespread notion. On Tuesday, in fact, reacting to the West Bengal government’s plans to stop work on the National Population Register, the BJP repeated this claim. “National Population Register builds up to the Census data 2021,” argued BJP MP Swapan Dasgupta. This claim, however, is not borne out legally. “The National Population Register is being conducted under the Citizenship Act, 1955 and the 2003 rules while the Census is done under the Census Act, 1948,” explained Ranjit Sur. “The Census data is kept secret and cannot be used for anything else. The National Population Register data will be publicly displayed as part of the claims and objections process and will be used to create a National Register of Citizens.”
Sur continued: “Their laws are different, their aims are different. National Population Register has nothing to do with the Census and anyone making that claim is simply saying so to misguide.” This mistaken notion might have something to do with the fact that the two exercises are conducted simultaneously. The Union government has stated that it will “update the National Population Register along with the House listing phase of Census 2021”.
The Polit Bureau of CPI(ML) Red Star which met at party centre greeted the comrades who made the Jan Akrosh Abhiyan a success. According to its evaluation, during the last two months the situation in the country has become worse. The present upsurge taking place all over the country proves that the intensive campaign organized by the party and class/mass organizations against the Modi-2’s decisions further intensifying the fascistization, consistently for months with correct slogans, especially the campaign against the Assam NRC, the CAB, the all India NRC/NPR plan also played a role in creaking the present upsurge against the Modi-2.
Though the Modi-2 is trying to minimize and sideline the seriousness of the economic slow- down which is becoming more and more serious day by day, its consequences are evident. GDP growth rate has come down to 4.5% with no scope of reversing this trend in coming days. The economy is serious recession. As market is becoming increasingly dull, more production units are shutting down or decreasing production. As millions are losing jobs and unemployment is increasing, purchasing power further goes down, making the market more dull. It is a vicious circle. Recouping through increasing foreign trade is also not materializing, in the atmosphere of present trade war. Both US and China along with other countries are trying to get the Indian market opened more for them, through RCEP like treaties. Though Modi did not sign it this time due to strong popular resistance, pressure is mounting to sign it. Prices of all essential commodities and services are also increasing. Except speeding up sale of the PSUs, the Modi government has no other solution to put forward to overcome this situation. The banking system is also in crisis, as the NPAs are accumulating day by day. The latest GST hike on essential items is making the situation worse for the masses
It is in this situation, in the elections to Maharashtra and Haryana, in spite of Modi-Shah trying to convert their J&K and CAB moves to whip up muscular nationalism as votes, BJP’s vote share and seats reduced, just five months after its sweeping victory in the LS elections. Though it manipulated to retain power in Haryana, in spite of all efforts, subverting Constitutional values, it could not prevent the SS- NCP- Congress alliance coming to power in Maharashtra. In Jharkhand, it is fighting the elections alone, and its prospects are bleak. The RSS/BJP has reached a stage when they will resort to creation of mass hysteria through CAA/NCR. They will try to divide the people and create civil war like conditions, when they can dominate the scene using state machinery including military and constitutional institutions. So, as the students’ resistance against CAA and NCR has erupted all over the country they are resorting to horrifying state terror to suppress them. It is the time to support the student struggles and all other resistances to fascist Modi rule, engaging in issue based broad united movements with all anti RSS/BJP forces, focusing on the struggle against discriminative CAA and NCR/NPR.
At the same time, the ruling class parties as well as the social democrats in power have no basic differences on neoliberal/corporate policies like issues with BJP. Their opposition to BJP is only a contradiction among the ruling class parties. Still, it is necessary to become part of the broadest unity of all anti-BJP forces on issue basis to fight and defeat it as the immediate task. At the same time, the cardinal question of overthrowing the fascist RSS should be vigorously taken by intensifying the re-building of the revolutionary party, uniting all communist revolutionary forces in a left core based on a common program, and launching a mass platform of all struggling left and democratic forces with all oppressed classes and sections to defeat the fascist RSS and to achieve social change.
CPI(ML) Red Star