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Monday, September 21, 2020

Citizenship law threatens the very idea of India. We must raise our voices

The recent spate of legislation by the present political establishment in Delhi has pushed many to the edge, including people like me — we are now left with no choice but to raise our voices for the voiceless.

Written by Debsmita Chowdhury | Updated: January 6, 2020 11:00:25 am
Citizenship law threatens the very idea of India. We must raise our voices We cannot remain mute witnesses to the actions of this government. We have to rightfully accept responsibility for our future because politics and governance is not a game. (Express photo: Ritesh Shukla)

“The girl who went viral by tearing a copy of CAA” is the statement frequently used by the media to introduce me. The fact that the media has to describe me in this manner is probably because they have not found any trace of political participation in my past — quite antithetical to the international relations course in which I had been enrolled in for the past five years. I think this particular aspect — my complete absence from any affiliated political fronts or activities — has sent shockwaves among my fellow classmates, juniors, seniors, faculty and, especially, family and friends over my action.

The recent spate of legislation by the present political establishment in Delhi has pushed many to the edge, including people like me — we are now left with no choice but to raise our voices for the voiceless. It is not that other political parties and government dispensations in the past have been an absolute delight to watch. But this government has acted entirely in opposition to the founding ideals of our nation, something we — the unbiased citizens — cannot accept.

Abraham Lincoln had said: “We are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts, not to overthrow the Constitution but to overthrow the men in power who pervert the Constitution”. As a student, I understand the necessity of the Constitution as a guiding mechanism to guarantee law and order and for the continuance of liberty, equality and fraternity amongst all. I completely uphold the sanctity of the Indian Constitution, and stand by my duty to abide by it. Therefore, what I did has been my individual form of protest in a desperate, non-violent attempt to save the basic fabric of our nation, woven painstakingly by our forefathers. I have always been quite an introvert from my childhood — with the completion of my post-graduation, I had intended to continue my research, focusing on my PhD proposal.

I had no intention to engage in any sort of action on the dais on the day of my convocation, but the brutal state crackdown on unarmed students of Jamia Millia Islamia, AMU, and now on innocent civilians has left no rational person unmoved. If this is the situation in my country where protestors, demonstrators or civilians face such serious repression — despite us not being under a dictatorial regime — I have to say that we are not free. We are living in dark times under the garb of democracy.

People may call me anti-national, the now commonly-used word for anyone who dissents against the dominant political discourse, but I would like to reiterate that I am a proud, responsible Indian because I can see the grave national and international implications of the recent non-secular legislation on citizenship.

What do the youth of this great nation actually want? We want dialogue, employment, a thriving economy, people’s welfare, non-interference in one’s food habits or religion, and to get this country onto a much better developmental arc: We would all love to witness India’s spectacular inclusive growth.

Dialogue is the basis of Indian culture. We cannot remain mute witnesses to the actions of this government. We have to rightfully accept responsibility for our future because politics and governance is not a game. It is serious business and we — and all future generations — cannot bear the burden of the whims and fancies of a reckless power.

Let us not forget the beautiful words penned down by Saadat Hasan Manto: “Hindustan had become free. Pakistan had become independent soon after its inception but man was still slave in both these countries — slave of prejudice… slave of religious fanaticism… slave of barbarity and inhumanity”.

This article first appeared in the print edition on January 6, 2020 under the title ‘Why I refuse to accept CAA’. The writer is an independent researcher. She did her Masters in International Relations from Jadavpur University, Kolkata.

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