Painting slums merely pretty distraction
Focus must be on improving lives of those living in shanties
- Published 10.12.19, 12:35 AM
- Updated 10.12.19, 12:35 AM
- 2 mins read
Sir — A slum in New Delhi was recently brightly painted by a collective of street artists with the goal of bringing cheer to a place that otherwise witnesses immense hardship. Similar endeavours had been undertaken in Mumbai earlier. But such projects can easily seem like an attempt at gentrification, focusing on external improvements while doing little for the people living in the slums.
Sir — Last week the Union cabinet cleared the citizenship (amendment) bill which aims to provide citizenship to Hindu, Sikh, Parsi, Christian, Jain and Buddhist immigrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. The bill, which was introduced in Parliament yesterday, is fundamentally unconstitutional. It goes against the ethos of equal rights guaranteed in India: it aims to provide amnesty to followers of all major religions in the subcontinent except Islam. It has also triggered widespread protests in Assam, where a belief has been propagated that an influx of immigrants will lead to an assault on Assamese culture and heritage.
Rather than engaging in such divisive activities, the government should pay greater attention to the worrying fiscal situation, acute water crisis in villages and the safety of women in the country. However, it seems to be busy focusing on polarizing issues that might fetch it votes in the future.
Sir — The citizenship (amendment) bill is rife with religious discrimination. It violates the tenet of equality enshrined in our Constitution. The idea of a religion-based State was one of the reasons for the creation of Pakistan at the time of Independence. The idea of nationhood nurtured in free India was based on the secular ideals of M.K. Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Abul Kalam Azad and B.R. Ambedkar.
Citizenship in a secular and democratic country cannot be determined on the basis of religion. The inclusion of all except one religious community within the ambit of citizenship is precisely what makes the bill unacceptable. The principles behind this bill force one to re-examine India’s claim of being a secular nation.
Sir — The introduction of the citizenship (amendment) bill in Parliament is worrying. It is openly discriminatory towards Muslims and thus must be strongly condemned. Denying Muslims the possibility of asylum in case of persecution in three of India’s neighbouring countries is a violation of the constitutional guarantee of equality before the law. If this line of thinking persists, India might soon cease to be a secular State.