Kolkata: Nobel Laureate economist Amartya Sen believes implementation of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) could reduce the role of minorities in the country, while encouraging majoritarian forces.
In an interview with PTI, he said India’s father of the nation Mahatma Gandhi had worked for a “just polity, and a good sense of national identity”, for all sections of society.
"As far as I can see, one of BJP's purposes (by implementing CAA) is to reduce the role of minorities and make them less important and, in a direct and indirect way, increase the role of the Hindu majoritarian forces in India and to that extent undermine the minorities,” the economist said.
The CAA through which the Centre wants to grant Indian nationality to non-Muslim migrants from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan, was passed by Parliament on December 11, 2019 and the Presidential nod was received the next day.
Subsequently, it was notified by the home ministry. However, the law is yet to be implemented as rules under the CAA are yet to be framed.
"It's very unfortunate for a country like India which is meant to be a secular, egalitarian nation and it has also been used for particularly unfortunate discriminatory action like declaring minorities, whether from Bangladesh or West Bengal, as foreign rather than indigenous. This is pretty demeaning and I would regard that to be a bad move basically,” he said.
Asked whether the BJP-led central government has improved in its performance in these years, Sen replied in the negative.
"I do not think it has improved. I think what India needs is a recognition that every Indian has certain rights and they come from their membership of the nation. That was after all what Mahatma Gandhi tried to do," he said.
Mahatma Gandhi did not try to cultivate one group against another, Sen said adding that despite being "strongly committed Hindu in a religious way", he was willing to give Muslims much more standing than they had at that time before Independence.
“I think the move was for a fair culture, a just polity, and a good sense of national identity. Someday India will regret the neglect of the minorities like Muslims," the economist said.
The objective of the CAA is to grant Indian citizenship to persecuted minorities like Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, Parsis and Christians from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
Those from these communities who had come to India till December 31, 2014, facing religious persecution there, will not be treated as illegal immigrants and given Indian citizenship.
After the CAA was passed by Parliament, widespread protests were witnessed in different parts of the country leading to deaths of nearly 100 people in police firing and related violence.