What is the CAA?
According to the CAA, Hindu, Christian, Buddhist, Jain, Sikh and Parsi migrants who have entered India illegally-that is, without a visa-on or before December 31, 2014 from the Muslim-majority countries of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh and have stayed in the country for five years, are eligible to apply for Indian citizenship.
Why is the provision extended only to people of six religions, and not Muslims, and why does it apply only to people coming from these three countries?
The Union government claims that people of these six faiths have faced persecution in these three Islamic countries, Muslims haven’t. It is, therefore, India’s moral obligation to provide them shelter.
How is the CAA connected to the NRC?
The two have no connection. The NRC is a count of legitimate Indian citizens. Barring the state of Assam, this exercise has never been done anywhere in the country. Union home minister Amit Shah has said he will frame a nationwide NRC by 2024 to detect illegal migrants. On December 22, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said his government had never said anything about an NRC except in Assam.
Do we really need an NRC?
On paper, there is nothing wrong with counting the legal citizenry of the country. But if it becomes a basis for discrimination or put to other uses, then it is certainly problematic. Besides, it will be an enormous exercise given the size of our population and other complexities. This was evident in Assam, where even genuine Indian citizens got excluded and many illegal migrants allegedly, got included. Before the government embarks on this exercise, it also needs to put in place a policy on stateless people. India does not have one yet, and keeping illegal migrants in detention centres is something the country can ill afford.