CAB, now called CAA! 

CAB-CAA today has a different meaning than the conventional definition. CAB means Citizenship Amendment Bill and CAA is Citizenship Amendment Act. Here is a disclaimer. I am neither a constitutional expert nor am I a Supreme Court lawyer. I am an ordinary citizen of India like crores of others. I have tried to write in a manner without writing about complexities (there are too many) because I am not an expert. I am also not an intellectual. People like Doctors, Engineers, Architects are not intellectuals. You have to be born intellectual and be educated at JNU, Oxford, Harvard in political science, finance, or at least history! Sometimes Geography is also okay!

CAB was passed in Rajya Sabha on the 11th December after Lok Sabha passed it on the previous day and became CAA the next day; it became law as the President signed the necessary documents. Citizenship, migration is the phenomena of the 20th Century. Before that period,  travel was tough, and a comparatively small number of adventurous people migrated and settled in different countries. The journey from one part of the country to another part was tough. Hence the laws and rules of migration and citizenship have been comparatively recent phenomena.

India was never a single country as we see it today. There were Rajas of various small and big states. I am not sure how people travelled in those days from place A to place B. Hyderabad was a big state under the Nizam. The procedure and documentation involved in going into Hyderabad from outside are not known to me. Was the visa required before independence? After the independence “India” was split into two nations. Bharat and Pakistan (West and East) were created based on religious majority. India had a Hindu majority, and Pakistan had a Muslim majority. Creation of Bangla Desh in 1971 created a significant flux in Eastern India. Many people from erstwhile East Pakistan moved to India and moved to West Bengal/Assam. These people were both Hindus and Muslims.

The partition in 1947 created the first sizeable Hindu nation of the world. The first principle of citizenship is if you are born in a country where your parents and grandparents were born, you automatically become a citizen of that country. The US is a nation formed by migrants. So even today, there is a law in the US that if a child is born on US soil, the child automatically gets US citizenship. They do not bother about the citizenship status of the mother. She can be alien too!

India applies a similar law of citizenship, and those who lived in India at the time of partition automatically became citizens of India. Those like me who were born just after partition also became a citizen of India by birth. This law applies to all the people of irrespective of their religion. India used the same law before and after the CAB bill came into existence. My point is that there is a significant discussion going on, that this bill is against the Muslims, is not correct. The bill has nothing to do with Muslims who are already citizens of India, like me. Such propaganda and discussion are incorrect. I have one question for the intellectuals. Do they know that Muslims in India are far better off than Dalits, Tribals in India? So why not talk about these people?

So why are different groups protesting the CAB bill? Political parties feel that it is an excellent vehicle to create confusion in the minds of the people and get some mileage to push the government politically. People forget that politics is a trapeze act in a circus. Accidents can happen easily if both sides do not follow the basic rules of the coalition. A classic example is Rahul Gandhi’s comment on Savarkar. Shive Sena has immediately retaliated on what he said. I am sure that it will lead to blood pressure and temperature rise in Maharashtra politics.

I have read many articles, treaties, and seen a couple of videos by experts. I have tried to explain the critical issue of CAA in plain English! Now at least I am clear what stakes are involved in CAA. I hope you also will get a fair idea of the same.

CAB1

Why there is a strong protest in Assam? Assamese feel that many Hindus who have “migrated” after the 1971 Bangla Desh war in Assam will become citizens of India. The act will reduce their opportunities in their state by making a large number of migrants Indian citizens. The map above shows the states for which CAA is not applicable. The blue states do not come under the purview of CAA, but it applies to Meghalaya, Assam, and Tripura. These states have a common border with Bangla Desh.

It is important to know what is ILP. ILP is an Inner Line Permit. This permit is required by tourists,s including all Indian citizens. At a time, it is given for seven days; later on, it can be extended if required. For those Indians seeking jobs in these states, it is given for one year at a time; it is also extendable like the tourist permit. The permit is used for keeping intact the special social and cultural fabric of these states. Now Meghalaya has also requested ILP. It will be decided in a meeting after Christmas.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inner_Line_Permit

Why there is a strong protest in West Bengal? Mamta Banerji is a strong supporter of Muslims. She assuages the Muslim community at the cost of the Hindus. She has a fear that her vast vote bank of Muslims from Bangla Desh will not get citizenship under the CAA. They can be sent back to Bangla Desh.

Don’t miss this horror story of what Jyoti Basu’s West Bengal Government did with low caste migrants who came to India in large numbers before and after Bangala Desh War.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marichjhapi_incident

The concerned people have managed to keep it hidden as much as possible.

Why are protests continuing in Jamia Millia and other such institutes in Delhi? The main reason is that they do not understand the meaning of the act. Secondly, these institutions have been anti-government all the time. The moment they get an opportunity, they start protesting.

There are collateral damages when acts like CAA or action like Article 370 is taken. The first discussion on citizenship had begun in 1971, and it took some form in 1985. Somehow the governments after 1985 kept the status quo instead of acting on the same. The collateral damage of CAA will be the relationship with Bangla Desh. But in the first place, we must note than Bangla Desh never made any attempt to stop the illegal migration of Hindus and Muslims to India. Once India starts acting on this bill, India will send back many Muslims who had illegally entered. The reverse migration can be problematic for Bangla Desh. But is that India’s fault? Pakistan did not like Article 370 action. If they had lived peacefully, India might have maintained a status quo. But continuous terrorist attacks forced India to act in Kashmir. A strong nation needs to act even if others don’t like it. Recently the US sent back about 500 Indian people who were trying to enter the US illegally via Mexico. Did India protest? They were Indian citizens trying to perform illegal acts.

Opposition leaders and intellectuals are raising a question. They are asking why the government has chosen only three countries of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangla Desh. I feel that it is a matter of policy. Persecuted people are usually in the minority. These countries have Muslims in the majority. The Indian government is trying to help people in the minority. Muslims from these countries have a different route of seeking Indian citizenship. Adnan Sami, Taslima Nasreen, Dalai Lama are the prominent people who have been given Indian citizenship. Ruskin Bond has been living in India for 50 years. If Imran Khan decides on one fine day that he wants Citizenship of India, he can always apply. He will have to follow a standard procedure, and at the end of scrutiny, if he fits the bill, he will get Indian citizenship.

Opposition parties and intellectuals are raising a question of why Sri Lanka (Tamils), China (Uyghur), Myanmar (Rohingyas) and more are not included in the list. India is already giving shelter to Tamils. Rohingyas are coming via Bangla Desh since we don’t have a common border with them. So they have to go back. CAA is a relaxation in rules of giving citizenship and not against taking away citizenship. The government has made CAA to help minorities from these three countries (these countries have a majority Muslim population) who are persecuted. The persecuted majority from these countries can apply if they feel like taking Indian citizenship. The government will consider them under routine migration process.

By no means, this subject is over. Major genuine discontent is for Assamese people. I am sure that the Central Government will sit and talk with Assamese people and their leaders. They will come to an amicable solution with CAA as the guiding principle. Some tweaking may be needed. I am sure both the sides will show flexibility and reach a reasonable conclusion.

Our dream of Immortality!

There is a lovely Hindi song, “Tum Jiyo, Hazaro Saal, Saal ke Din ho Pachhas Hazar”!  The song is sung to celebrate a birthday and  means, “My dear, please live for thousand years and let each of the years have fifty thousand days.” It wishes immortality to the blessed soul. When we discuss human life, we always say that our life span is a hundred years! From where this number has come from is difficult to say. But it indicates the wish for immortality or longevity. Immortality is also discussed in mythology! Dronacharya’s son, Ashwathama, is supposedly immortal, and that is later considered as a curse or a punishment.

In our day to day life, there are many examples of mortality. Mortality is not a curse, but it is a fact of life. Dalai Lama had spoken about Shunyata in one of his discourses; it means emptiness. This emptiness means all the objects in the universe have no meaning unless we attach the meaning through our thoughts and beliefs! In the real world, the atoms and molecules exist independent of our mind. But our mind also exists independently, and we feel this when we are angry or happy! Anything that exists physically has a life span or shelf life. The span depends on many variables. But till the beginning of the 20th Century, the lifespan of humans was pretty low. Longevity was a word which came into discussion about a tiny number of people.

Still, the fascination for immortality continues. Why is it so?  We forget that everything has a specific life. With futility, we cling to that toiletry pouch long after it has fallen apart. We visit and revisit the old neighbourhood where we grew up, searching for the remembered grove of trees and the little fence. We want to go back to our roots. We clutch our old photographs. In our churches and mandirs and mosques, we pray to the everlasting and eternal life. In every nook and corner, nature is showing you that nothing lasts, that it is all passing away. All that we see around us, including our bodies, is shifting and evaporating, and one day will be gone. Where are the one billion people who lived and breathed in the year 1800, only two short centuries ago?

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2018/05/01/another-view-point-the-native-place/

The above link is a blog I had written about native places. We get nostalgic about our good old native place where we spent our childhood. We remember that school where we spent an extended part of life. Some people keep on going to their native place ( गावाकडे or मुलुक ) every few years. They hope that everything has remained in the time frame when they have migrated elsewhere. But when they go there, they find most of the friends have left the place; those still left behind have changed beyond recognition. Their children don’t even know you. That old grocery shop is now converted to a modern-day cell phone shop selling Oppo and Samsung. Every visit, we see that our past memories are now becoming actual memories. Those teachers have died, the priest died 30 years back. There are more wine shops than shops selling those sweets which you enjoyed in childhood. There is a clear sign that things are changing, the old world is dying, withering, replaced by a new one. This change is happening in a short span of about 30/40 years. We don’t accept the changes, but inwardly, we know that the reasons for which we keep on going to the native place do not exist. The other day, I went on a road in Pune, where my grandfather used to live. Though I exactly knew the location where the Wada existed, I could see none of the old signs. Then suddenly I saw a flour mill or chakki from those days, that was still around! The sighting also brought a thought in my mind that in another five or ten years, the chakki will also be gone! Did I accept it? I am not sure. We humans do not accept the adage, “Time and Tide wait for none”!

Despite the preponderance of evidence against it, our culture strives for immortality and youth. We cling to a past like — photographs, memories of our children, old wallets and shoes. But it’s not only about our physical bodies that we want to be ever lasting. We struggle against every change — big and small.

We have seen these changes in real life, but we tend to ignore them until the last possible moment. Kodak and photography were considered synonyms. Till the ‘90s of the last century, other companies were called also-ran. Kodak invented digital photography but never understood its real potential. Well, Kodak does not exist any more. The change took place in front of their eyes in 20 years. Garware Nylons was a leading company, in Pune, and it prospered in front of our eyes. For various reasons, within 15 years of reaching its peak, it closed shop. There were many car manufacturing companies in the early part of the 20th century in the US. Only GM, Ford and Chrysler remained. Even GM and Chrysler were saved by the US government from Bankruptcy a decade ago.

The coast of Pacifica in California is a beautiful place to live. (The photos above)  But the sea erosion is eating away 8 inches of land every year. Those who did not understand the meaning of 8 inches per year are now suffering. In forty years, it meant almost thirty feet of erosion. People in that area have understood the real meaning of mortality!

Human life span is tiny, whereas the life span of the Universe is in terms of millions of years. Hence we hardly visualise any changes happening around us except for some happening in Pacifica. But let us not despair. In the cycle of mortality, some beautiful things and events have a life of a few hours. The night-blooming flower of Cereus or Brahmakamal blooms only once a year and has a life of a couple of hours. But during that night these flowers give us tremendous pleasure.   The other day a friend called to share the information that the plant in his home had 30 flowers in one night. He was really excited.

Why are we looking for immortality? Is it for pleasure? Is it enjoy life for an infinite period? Imagine you in the year 2219. I can not imagine what the world will be. I may be immortal, but my body cells may not be eternal, my muscles may not be immortal, nor may my brain be immortal! Will my contemporaries also be in a similar position? What will we do in those times?  Instead, it might be a good idea not to have immortality and in short span of life, be like Brahmakamal to your friends and near one; be a Brahmakamal those in your ecosystem. There are some great achievers who in the same life span cross the mountains of achievements and some reach the Mount Everest.

The joy of living life is an individual choice! Some are happy with the smallest of achievement and others are not happy even after climbing the Mount Everest! Immortality is not going to give us any special joy. But don’t forget that even the North Start (Dhruv Tara) is not immortal.  After a million years it might disintegrate into atoms and molecules. But one thing is is surely permanent and will always be available; that is God!  He will always be there as a concept and will last forever! Let us not try to imitate Him! We are humans!

So long dear friends, Al Vida!

Al Vida is a Hindi word meaning Goodbye! This year has been a bit rapid in the wrong sense! I lost three dear friends of mine to the almighty till today, 11th April 2017. I am not writing an obituary but I am writing random thoughts that come to mind when such deaths take place. I am now 67 and it’s not a big deal really to face that your friends or family are dying. I know the realities of life and know very well that one has to go at some stage. My first such experience was when I was in final year of school and I had lost a friend to destiny. I have written a blog on this event

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2011/03/23/he-is-gone/. That time it was a big shock!

In my grandparent’s time, he died at the age on 89, reaching that age was a miracle! Medical science and other allied sciences were not yet really developed and reaching the age of 50 was a great feat. Probably this threshold has already gone up to 55, then slowly to 60. My father and father in law both died at the age of 63. Celebrating 60th birthday was a great event then. People were considered to be at their prime around age of 40/45. Things have really changed now; almost 10 % of my batch mates from engineering college continue to work and are in reasonable health. Another maybe 50% are in good health though they have retired. People go for walks, treks, climb hills daily or hit the gym.

Now people are considered to be in prime around the age of 55/60 and I have known a few who have started new ventures after crossing 60. Definitions of old age are changing rapidly in India, the age bar for doing new things, new achievements has gone up! Besides improvement in medical sciences what has helped to raise the bar? New technology has brought people together. The isolation that older people had to suffer is now almost becoming history because we are in touch many people and many of the contemporaries are still around. This has definitely added to improved longevity.

I only feel sad that two of my friends who died, passed away almost instantaneously. Third friend was unwell for a few months. I don’t know the details about their health status for the period before they died. My other friend Suresh who was an Air Force pilot, flying MIG 27, had once told me. “Pramod, planes are as good as the way they are maintained. Except for one system, all hydraulics can be checked on the ground; only one system gets checked during flying. Similarly there is no sudden heart failure; there are signals which are ignored or sometimes due to diabetes the person does not feel the pain.” Had these two friends been a little more proactive in getting themselves checked who knows….

In this world time is the same for everybody. One minute for me is the same one minute to everybody. How we use this one minute is what matters. If we are day dreaming, thinking of future for ten minutes, we lose ten minutes from the current time which we could have spent better. Similarly if we had used those ten minutes to remember what we had done in the past, the net result would have been the same. It is the current time that is THE time!

Out of the three friends that I lost one of them was current time person. He would enjoy life to the fullest, whatever he was doing. He passed early morning. He had just come back from a party a couple of hours before he died. He had the real zest to enjoy the life. His son had shared the following on Facebook, sometime back. It is a perfect fit to my dear friend’s style!

The Dalai Lama, when asked what surprised him most about humanity:

“Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. Then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present. The result being that he neither lives in present nor the future. He lives as if he is never going to die, and then he dies never really lived.”

My friend really lived life and it is not easy to be so zestful all through your life. Thank you dear for showing us the path how to live and in the how to go!  Goodbye, Al Vida, My angels!