Citizenship law reveals tension between BJP’s Hindutva and the financial aim of Modi govt.
The BJP’s assertion that it can guarantee the development of India than its rivals has been a part of its claim to provide good government. Because of this, the ruling party is vulnerable to charges that India’s economy has been mismanaged by it. The gap between truth and assertion was made stark by the growth slowdown that was noticeable that the Indian economy has undergone, and the Narendra Modi government failure to generate employment.
The BJP has of late prominently addressed a non-economic schedule – of advancing the Hindu majoritarian imprint – either due to the weakening of the economy under its watch or as an political response to the fundamental commitments.
The BJP has done at the risk of divisions and deepening sectarian, which now stands realised with India shaken by protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act. However, a direct conflict exists between both of these aspects of its agenda – the economic (which it loudly proclaims but shows mixed commitment towards) and the non-economic (which it doesn’t announce but pursues assiduously).
Former Reserve Bank of India governor Raghuram Rajan was right to emphasise the notion that intolerance is also a threat to prosperity. For a period of time, India was branded as the world’s’fastest growing major economy’. This is a position which it has with China traded back and forth lately. However, it was more rigorously the fastest growing large democracy. This is a statement of political values, but also a signal to investors that in India, fissures, divisions, and anxieties can and will be dealt with providing the possibility of stability over the long term.
It is this part of India that has allowed it consolidate and to maintain a nation-state over seven decades. Capitalists may look at China with admiration, but its inability to ensure that divisions within the country is going to be managed in a way that is flexible remains a source of doubts about its economic future. Political tensions might not have a first-order effect on economic outcomes in the short run but in the longer term, they create the possibility of disruptions that are catastrophic if their likelihood is impossible or difficult to judge.
This may be viewed from various perspectives. The possibilities for investment and domestic commerce depend on peace, which, in turn, depends on more than just majorities and installation of the police and the military. Having an environment that is not disrupted by political and social tensions and the prices they create – whether those who arise from an individual needing to commute to work in fear or from threats to the security of property – is important for business, both domestic and foreign. Investors may be concerned about problems. As much as they have a well-established willingness to put aside concerns searching for profits, these must be higher in order to justify investment.
In determining the amount of investment it can’t be denied that these concerns are a factor, and may, if mishandled, become a one. India continues to rely on foreign investors for its lifeblood – masked by its foreign exchange reserves that are high – because it can finance its current account deficit through inflows that are ongoing from them. There are direct fiscal costs large, which arise from cost on repression.
Pushing the political vision
The Citizenship Amendment Act is one of the numerous measures aimed at incrementally advancing the BJP’s political vision, that of Hindutva, but which directly risks the side of the proclaimed agenda of the Modi government. It is certain that they did not give importance to it, although it is possible that the authorities had not recognised that there exists a tension between these two sides of its opposing goals. In stoking divisions, a interest was shown by the prioritisation of the citizenship law.
Then this could have been handled through a variety of administrative measures, which did not necessarily require new legislation if the intent was to provide refuge to persecuted minorities in neighbouring states. Refugees deemed to be benefitted by the Citizenship Act that was amended could have had their residence or citizenship applications eased more by procedures, which have until now impeded them. Others who are not going to be benefitted by the law have likewise been affected by the refusal to entertain their citizenship programs, rather than by the impossibility of doing so, and as a result, had called for an easing of government processes rather than new legislation.
After determining their status 15, in practice, many countries around the world admit refugees. This determination takes into consideration the threats experienced by the group to which the person belongs. India has employed this approach in the past to incorporate earlier waves of migrants as long-term residents or even as citizens (both, in the case of Tibetans).
A softer approach of the type (even if implemented in blatantly sectarian form since the Modi government seems to wish to do) could have made security possible on a selective basis without generating the strong response that the government has provoked by changing the legislation to integrate its explicit preference for specific religious communities. The first would have been to create a comprehensive and principled refugee policy, which India has lacked, but the Modi government has not even mentioned this possibility, let alone advanced it.
The government seems to have preferred to offer a provocation because it seemed a chance to show political strength to supporters and opponents alike, to attempt to shore up its vote foundation that is existing and also to create new ones. The safeguarding of stability and prosperity don’t provide the reason as there are reasons to do so in any situation. Rather, the choice to progress the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) shows the best indifference of the Modi government to taking risks with the economic and developmental concerns that it allegedly values, and its eagerness rather to pursue a communal agenda.