Open letter to government: suggestions on CAA and how not to push people to the wall!
“‘Maturity’ is all that we need -the people and the government. When the country is standing at the cusp of widespread violence and riots, it’s the last thing that should be ignored"
It is conveyed through news channels that the government is finally looking to listen; in a democracy, congratulations on that. After several days of protest, condemnable violence and countrywide panic at last they want to listen. Well, better late than never. There are thousands of protestors on road. And there are lakhs who are with them, just not physically. I meet such people every day, people who have doubts as well as those who have valuable suggestions. Sometimes being in the real world makes you feel so much better about this country. Social media just does not reflect how good and understanding people in general are. I am connected with a public place in Delhi. And I also meet a lot of people who disagree with those who are protesting. But there is a very stark difference in the way they disagree and in the way the social media warriors disagree. These real life people are more civilized in the way they present their arguments.
Cutting long talk short, on the basis of what I have absorbed from these nameless people and on the basis of my own understanding, here are a few suggestions that can really help the government in normalizing the situation in the country and allay fears.
1. The problem started with that line of the bill that listed religions which would be considered under CAA. Make no mistake the CAA alone clearly states it is for foreign nationals but the secular soul in lot of us squirms the moment it hears about anything that’s discriminatory. The whole idea of granting citizenships to foreign nationals is inspired from humanity and let us be very clear about it, we all are humans irrespective of our religion. Somebody’s religion doesn’t determine how much they deserve/need assistance. It should totally be granted on the basis of their circumstances. The whole exercise should be more specific. Let every individual go through the same set of criteria. That’s called fairness, a mandatory given in every democracy.
2. The second doubt that’s hovering in everybody’s mind is CAA+NRC = No Muslims. The government has time and again mentioned that CAA is not related to NRC but what it has failed to answer for a very long period is ‘how?’. What happens when somebody fails to prove they are citizens of the country? Would they be treated as foreign nationals then? Does that mean CAA would be applied on them? This was the long answer that government failed to present until recently. The process, the eligible documents, everything should have been laid out first and in great detail. People should have been taken in confidence. They should have been given the clear route in which they could prove their citizenship. The MHA recently released the details. However it should have been done before the country started boiling.
3. Communication is crucial. What the government has terribly failed in is in engaging the people they govern. Arrogance doesn’t work in a democracy, especially a youth driven democracy. They just won’t take your orders without explanation. The moment you provide explanation and communicate effectively the youth automatically understands. They are the most law-abiding people of the country. The government should behave like a friend, appear more approachable. And let’s be honest, people are slightly scared right now if at all their views would be respected.
4. The police just can’t distinguish. We have seen it time and again they are not well-trained to differentiate black from white. There are some great officers but they are few. Letting the police loose on Jamia students was a big mistake. However, once it happened, an immediate apology to the innocents who got targeted would have tremendously reduced the outrage the action caused. The government should stop behaving like a teenager and dump this ego. Be more like parents. Understand, communicate rather than force. If at all the government plans to bring CAA and NRC, the refined versions of course, it should be handled by a professional team.
5. There is lack of trust in government. And somehow the government is to blame. You never listened to our heartbeats and you never approached us in a friendly manner. Please build a level of trust with your citizen. How you do it is on you, but before anything as impactful as CAA and NRC is implemented, the citizens must be taken in confidence. We understand we just can’t let people pour into our country but there has to be way this can done without mentioning the word ‘religion’.
These are just a few suggestions. I of course do not represent the entire youth of India. But I hope it helps. I would also like to request my fellow brave citizens to be more careful in believing things. Nothing is totally right or totally wrong. Please identify the grey area and be mature enough in accepting it. Have the guts to condemn what’s wrong. The moment you justify it you lose your cause. Destroying public property, stone pelting and attacking policemen are certainly not acts you should even try to defend. ‘Maturity’ is all that we need -the people and the government. When the country is standing at the cusp of widespread violence and riots, it’s the last thing that should be ignored.