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Modi govt in Assam overburdened with providing citizenship to Bangladeshi Hindu immigrants

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Guwahati: The issue of giving citizenship to Bangladeshi Hindu migrants in Assam is creating hindrances for Modi government where elections to the 126-member assembly will be held in two months.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi issued a notice in September last year for leasing minors of Bangladesh and Pakistan who entered India on or before December 31, 2014, can stay in the country without any documents.

According to the Indian Home Ministry, the decision was taken under Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920, and Foreigners Act, 1946.

But the notice is now gathering steam in Assam.

Under the Assam Accord of 1985, anyone who entered from Bangladesh to the state after the midnight of Mar 24, 1971, is considered a foreigner.

Regional political parties such as Asom Gana Parishad, once an ally of the BJP, are opposing the decision of Assam bearing the burden of the migrants. All Assam Students’ Union that spearheaded an anti-foreigners’ agitation from 1979-85 also has the same point of view.

But other organizations like All Assam Bengali Youth Students’ Federation (ABSYF) are building pressure on the Modi government to provide for the citizenship of Bengali Hindu migrants.

The ABSYF has questioned New Delhi to clear the issue and stop ‘playing politics’. Its general secretary, Nirmal Kanti Seal, wondered if the notification on Hindu migrants was just an eyewash.

“The BJP has been promising Indian citizenship for Hindu refugees from Bangladesh but is dragging its feet. In reality, Bengali Hindus staying in Assam are victimised as D-voters,” Seal said.

The ‘D’ in D-voters stands for ‘doubtful’.

Congress, which ruled Assam for 15 years, is also using the notification issue as a major political repellent. The Congress said the notification of joining migrants with Sikhism, Christianity, Hinduism and other religions as a “meaningless document’’.

Ripun Bora, vice-president of the Assam Congress unit, said given that citizenship was the choice of the central government in New Delhi.

“The state has no responsibility in this regard. The Modi government is misleading the people with such a notification that is nothing with the constitutional amendment,” Bora said.

“It is a ploy for garnering votes.”

The Congress leader said his party is not against granting citizenship to Bengali Hindus to have escaped religious harassment in Bangladesh.

“All minorities who have been forced to come to India should be granted citizenship, but Assam alone will not take the burden,” he said.

Bijay Gupta, the BJP general secretary of Assam said the notification allows the migrants to stay until the Indian government takes a final decision on giving citizenship.

“There will be no problem in the Lok Sabha (Lower House of Parliament) regarding the constitutional amendment, but it could get stalled in the Rajya Sabha (Upper House) where the BJP does not have majority,” Gupta said.

He also considered it as a decision of law court which government sets up periodically on the issue of detection of foreigners in Assam. (Inputs from bdnews24.com)

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  • Dinesh Dutta

    If somebody is Hindu regardless of which country he/she belongs, Indian citizenship should be given.

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Fall Of The Currency And Increase In Oil Prices: India ‘s Turmoil

The falling rupee has given a boost to some of India’s most lucrative exports, such as software services and pharmaceuticals, which add up to billions of dollars.

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India
Rajesh Kumar, left, shares a ride to work with another employee, Dilip Swain, right, as higher petrol prices in India begin to be felt in people's pocketbooks.VOA

The fall of the currency of India to record lows and rising global oil prices have raised worries that the world’s fastest growing economy faces headwinds that could hurt the fortunes of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party in next year’s general elections.

From people filling fuel at gas stations to thousands of students heading out to study overseas, the impact of the slumping rupee is sparking discontent.

Having plunged by about 12 percent against the dollar this year, the rupee is one of Asia’s worst faring currencies, and as in other countries, the slide has accelerated since the crash of the Turkish lira.

“The reasons are global. We must bear in mind that in last few months, dollar has strengthened against almost every currency,” said Finance Minister Arun Jaitley recently as he tried to send out reassuring signals that India’s economy is on track.

India
The rupee has plunged by about 12 percent this year raising fears of spiraling inflation. VOA

The rupee’s sharp depreciation comes at a time when the economy had recovered from a slowdown and surged to a two-year high in the quarter that ended in June. Forecasts put growth for this year at 7.5 percent.

Economy will slow

But economists warn this momentum will be difficult to sustain as the tumbling rupee, along with rising crude oil prices, takes a toll on growth. India, the world’s third largest oil importer, gets almost 80 percent of its fuel needs overseas.

“The government needs to mellow down on growth aspirations,” said N.R. Bhanumurthy, economist with the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy. “The growth needs to come down to a little less than 7 percent.”

Even as the government faces the prospect of a slowing economy, it is under pressure to lower taxes on gas and diesel to bring down the sharp rise in prices. Fuel is one of the most heavily taxed items in India, with rates as high as nearly 50 percent. Prices vary from state to state, but they have gone up by about 14 percent this year.

Hoping to cash in on the growing disaffection over the surge in fuel prices and the sliding rupee, opposition parties led nationwide protests that shutdown offices and schools in several cities this week.

India
Discontent with spiraling fuel prices poses a challenge to Prime Minister Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party ahead of general elections next year. VOA

The government dismissed the protests, saying that although people faced momentary difficulties, they understood they were because of factors beyond its control.

Political analysts are not so sure, pointing out that fuel prices are a politically sensitive issue in India and usually result in a spike in inflation.

“Anger is rising, there is resentment,” said Satish Misra at the Observer Research Foundation, warning the ruling party will face a backlash “Obviously that is going to have a negative impact on the electoral fortunes of the Bharatiya Janata Party, there is no doubt about that.”

Warnings from economists

Among those who are upset with the high fuel prices is Rajesh Kumar, who commutes 30 kilometers to the advertising agency where he works. Hit by the higher prices that eat into his income, he has started sharing the ride with another employee.

India
Narendra Modi. Wikimedia Commons

“I have given up the idea of buying another car,” he said despondently. “I will not be able to afford the cost of running it.”

Economists however have warned the government against giving in to populist pressures ahead of a series of state polls later this year and general elections around April next year. They say lowering taxes on fuel or taking measures to prop up the currency will strain the country’s finances and hurt the economy in the long run.

Also Read: Diverse Gathering To Be Addressed This World BioFuel Day: PM Narendra Modi

“One needs to be more careful and vigilant,” Bhanumurthy said. “It is easy for India to stay with low growth than experiencing the high deficit.”

But there is also some good news for the Indian economy. The falling rupee has given a boost to some of India’s most lucrative exports, such as software services and pharmaceuticals, which add up to billions of dollars. (VOA)