14 Jan 2020: The Hindu Editorial Analysis
1) On concerns about CAA: Unhelpful combativeness
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s statement that the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, or CAA, 2019, intended only to grant citizenship to a certain class of people, and not to deny citizenship to anyone is factually accurate.
- But his extrapolation that hence the Act’s critics are misinformed is unfounded and misleading. The concern expressed by many is not that it allows citizenship to people escaping persecution from neighbouring countries.
- On the contrary the fundamental opposition to the law is that it does so in a discriminatory and inadequate manner. The CAA introduces a religious test in classifying victims of persecution, and granting them citizenship in a secular republic.
- The one strand of opposition, among indigenous communities in the Northeastern States, is indeed against granting citizenship rights to anyone, regardless of religion. Mr. Modi appeared to be eager to pacify them, as he should be, by reiterating that safeguards are being included in the law to protect the cultural and linguistic rights of indigenous groups.
- When it comes to addressing the legitimate and well-founded concerns of constitutional experts, the Opposition and several State governments, he tends to turn unhelpfully combative.
- If Mr. Modi and his colleagues are genuinely concerned that there is misinformation, they must reach out to the critics rather than disparage them.
- Instead, party functionaries have latched on to the situation as yet another opportunity for political propaganda, a communal one at that, and launched a marathon monologue.
- If the CAA’s provisions reflect the BJP’s Hindutva philosophy, the straw man argument further accentuates it. The suggestion is that the CAA’s opponents are opposed to giving refuge to persecuted Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, and Christian minorities from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, which they are not.
- The CAA’s rationale is that these countries have a state religion, and religious minorities face persecution. But persecution need not be only religious in nature. In Sri Lanka, Tamils have suffered in the hands of the establishment and the dominant Sinhalas.
- Moreover, Islamic sects, Shias and Ahmadiyyas, and non-believers that have come under attack in these three countries are denied the benefit under the CAA for no logical reason.
- The explanation that the current CAA is only remedying a grievance left over by Partition is unconvincing. Afghan refugees should not have qualified by that reasoning.
- In truth, the popular suspicion of the government’s intent draws from its political rhetoric and the link between a National Register of Indian Citizens and the CAA that its functionaries repeatedly seek to forge.
- Critics have laid out their concerns regarding the CAA; it is the government that needs to explain its position. By repeatedly misinterpreting the concerns, the government betrays an unwillingness to engage on the issue.
2) On ruling party's win in Taiwan: Vote for status quo
- Taiwan’s pro-democracy President Tsai Ing-wen’s re-election, with a record mandate since the country’s first direct elections of 1996, could further strain ties with China.
- Ms. Tsai’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) suffered major losses in the 2018 local elections, but on Saturday, she took over 57% of the vote against her challenger, Han Kuo-yu of the Kuomintang party, which once ruled in China before moving to Taiwan.
- Opposition to Beijing’s one-country two-systems policy has long defined the ruling DPP. The Hong Kong protests have only served to bring into sharp relief the consolidation of democracy and sovereignty in Taiwan ahead of the weekend’s elections.
- Indeed, the Opposition’s landslide victory in Hong Kong’s local elections in November added momentum to Ms. Tsai’s own prospects. In a campaign marred by allegations of Chinese fake news and social media trolls on DPP candidates.
- She was subject to attacks on the authenticity of her degree from the London School of Economics, which the latter has confirmed. Also, the ruling party’s consolidation has coincided with the emergence of an assertive China, and with attempts of U.S. President Trump to use Taipei as a bargaining chip in his trade war with China.
- Taiwan’s future remains unfinished business for China’s President Xi Jinping, who, in October, presided over the 70th anniversary of the revolution. He has in the recent past declared his intention to use force to unify Taiwan with the mainland.
- For his part, Mr. Trump departed from protocol after his election when he received Ms. Tsai’s congratulatory call. Recent U.S. legislation to promote Taipei relations did not go down well in Beijing.
- China has meanwhile leveraged its economic clout to influence much of Africa and Latin America to withhold recognition to Taiwan as a sovereign state. According formal recognition to the island nation’s official name, the Republic of China, is among the DPP’s conditions for initiating dialogue with Beijing.
- A ratcheting of the rhetoric by Taipei and Beijing is more likely now. But it is unlikely that Mr. Xi would want to risk global recrimination from any aggressive military display either against Taiwan or Hong Kong.
- Taiwan’s zealous defence of its market economy and democratic freedoms may not seem compatible with the China model of state-sponsored capitalism and one-party rule.
- Yet, it may not be too fanciful to imagine the establishment of a possible modus vivendi, built on the mutual interest on either side to maintain the operation of market forces. A resolution of the historic dispute could be long-drawn.
- The ruling party’s win in Taiwan will make the dispute with China more difficult to resolve. But a constructive and democratic international response would be for the big powers to desist from exploiting the situation to promote their own interests.