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

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Image source: cnbc.com

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)

  • Dinesh Dutta

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

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Know How Grammy Award Winner Inspired by PM Modi to Dedicate Music to Environment

From songs like "Ganga" - depicting the plight of the river considered holy by most Indians - to his Grammy-winning album "Winds of Samara" - which speaks of peace and global harmony

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grammy award winner, modi
"What was to be a photo opportunity with the Prime Minister turned into an hour-long discussion with him on environment. He spoke on the impact music could have on society and inspired me to make music on environment," Kej told IANS in an interview here. Wikimedia

A chance meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in September 2015 in New Delhi inspired Bengaluru-based Grammy Award winner Ricky Kej to dedicate his life and music to the cause of environment.

Since then, Kej, who has represented India on global fora, performing at venues including the United Nations General Assembly in New York and UN Headquarters in Geneva, has been using music to flag ecological issues to policymakers and public the world over.

“What was to be a photo opportunity with the Prime Minister turned into an hour-long discussion with him on environment. He spoke on the impact music could have on society and inspired me to make music on environment,” Kej told IANS in an interview here.

From songs like “Ganga” – depicting the plight of the river considered holy by most Indians – to his Grammy-winning album “Winds of Samara” – which speaks of peace and global harmony – Kej’s music connects with all — from world leaders to the man on the street.

With the aid of compelling visuals, Kej’s music, and collaborations with global music artists, highlights the deleterious consequences of urbanisation, climate change and human-animal conflict.

modi, grammy award winner
From songs like “Ganga” – depicting the plight of the river considered holy by most Indians – to his Grammy-winning album “Winds of Samara” – which speaks of peace and global harmony – Kej’s music connects with all — from world leaders to the man on the street. Wikimedia

“There are so many issues in India like child labour, gender inequality and poverty, which none seem to be reflecting through music. We see that music has lost the identity of being an art form and has become a profession,” he lamented.

Kej, 37, bagged Grammy in 2015 for the ‘Best New Age Album’ for “Winds of Samsara”, created along with South African flautist Wouter Kellerman. He is also recognised as the ‘United Nations Global Humanitarian Artist’ for his music with environmental consciousness.

The subjects of Kej’s music include, the rising air pollution in global cities and towns, the perils being posed to wildlife due to urbanisation and the story of Republic of Kiribati, an island nation in the central Pacific Ocean off Fiji, whose coasts are receding each year due to rising ocean levels due to global warming, among others.

With 15 studio albums released internationally, 3,500 commercials, three feature films in Kannada and over 100 music awards in 20 countries to his credit, the conservationist-musician’s album “Shanti Samsara” was released by Modi and then French President Francois Hollande at the United Nations Conference of Parties (CoP-21) Climate Change Conference in Paris, held from November 30-December 12, 2015.

The album, conceived after his meeting with Modi, had Kej collaborate with about 500 musicians from 40 countries, for songs like “Ganga”, throwing light on the pollution plaguing the river, and on “Earth and Water”.

“Politicians and policymakers are used to statistics and numbers, but when one approaches them through art, it makes a lot of difference. I have seen politicians change their perspectives towards environmental causes after attending my concerts,” Kej asserted.

The element of environment and nature in his work comes from his own experiences. For instance, he composed the song “One With Earth” – which highlights natural farming and the need to give up chemical fertilisers – after he lived with the tribals in Andhra Pradesh’s Araku Valley to understand their lifestyle and traditional farming techniques.

Grammy award winner, modi
“There are so many issues in India like child labour, gender inequality and poverty, which none seem to be reflecting through music. We see that music has lost the identity of being an art form and has become a profession,” he lamented. Wikimedia

Born in 1981 in North Carolina in the US, Kej moved to Bengaluru with family when he was eight, with intense love for music and nature.

“As a child, I felt music and nature were connected and found music in the sounds of nature, birds and animals. I used to look at music as a way of understanding history, cultures and emotions from different parts of the world. A lot of my education was through music,” said Kej, who was part of a rock band “Angel Dust” during his class 12th from Bishop Cotton Boys’ School in Bengaluru.

Even as Kej pursued a dental science course on his father’s advice, he continued to create music and decided to pursue it full-time on completing the degree.

“Like most musicians, I started my career with popular music and later turned to heavy metal and jazz. I finally zeroed in on world music as it connects with the people the world over, irrespective of the language they speak,” Kej recalled.

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As a professor at the National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS) in the renowned Indian Institute of Science (IISc) campus in this tech hub, the musician believes his job is to approach environmental subjects artistically.

“Numbers don’t hit people as hard as visuals and art can. My job as a musician is to drive the numbers and data through emotions,” Kej added. (IANS)