CITIZENSHIP

Chief guest was Mr Donald Ramtar, President of Republic of Guyana. The theme for this was “Apna Bharat Apna Gaurav” “Connecting Generations”.

The 14th PravasiBharatiya Divas, which was supposed to be held during 7–9 January 2016 at New Delhi, was cancelled under the MEA’s decision to make the event biennial.

In 2017, the PravasiBharatiya Divas was held from 7–9 January 2017 in Bengaluru. The theme of this edition was “Redefining Engagement with the Indian Diaspora”. The Ministry of External Affairs, under the guidance of Prime Minister NarendraModi, had used digital modes to reach out to Indians abroad. The campaign Digital India also played a major role in bringing the success to PravasiBhartiya Divas. The plenary session ‘Leveraging Social Media for Diaspora Connect’ held on 9 January 2017, at the PravasiBharatiya Divas looked at social media as a medium in connecting the Indian Diaspora. The 15th PravasiBharatiya Divas was held during 7–9 January 2017 at Bengaluru, Karnataka. The theme for this year was “Redefining engagement with the Indian diaspora”.

The 16th PravasiBharatiya Divas 2018 was held during 6–7 January 2018 at Marina Bay Sands, Singapore.

The 17th PravasiBhartiya Divas 2019 was held during 21–23 January2019 at Varanasi, India. Prime Minister of Mauritius, PravindJugnauth was the chief guest.

Recent Developments: In 2015, the Government of India did away with the PIO card scheme and merged it with the OCI card scheme. All PIO cardholders were urged to convert their PIO card to OCI card for availing more benefits.

ASSAM ACCORD AND RECENT ISSUES

The Northeastern states have been fighting with the problem of Illegal immigration, specially from Bangladesh since independence. The problem is acute in Assam as the influx of large number of illegal immigrants pose danger to the fragile equilibrium in the political and social spheres of the state. The problem became visible after the Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971, which forced a large scale migration of Bangladeshis to India, especially to the state of Assam.

After prolonged agitations by the indigenous people of Assam for the detection and deportation of illegal immigrants from the state, the Assam Accord was signed between the Government of India and the leaders of Assam Movement in 1985.

FEATURES OF ASSAM ACCORD:
  • The immigrants who came to Assam between 1951 and 1961 shall be granted with full citizenship rights, including the right to vote in elections.
  • The immigrants who came to Assam between 1961 and 24th March 1971 shall be recognised as the residents of Assam and they must register themselves for the citizenship of India. But they will not be granted the right to vote in elections for 10 years.
  • The immigrants who came to Assam after 24th March 1971 shall be detected and deported from Assam.
ASSAM ACCORD AND THE POINT OF CONTENTION:
  • There are sections of indigenous people of Assam, who do not agree with the cutoff date prescribed in the accord for granting citizenship rights to immigrants from Bangladesh. They argue that the provisions of the accord violate Article 6, that seals the cutoff date for availing Indian citizenship by the immigrants at 19th July 1948.
  • Clause 6 of the Assam Accord states “Constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards, as may be appropriate, shall be provided to protect, preserve and promote the cultural, social, linguistic identity and heritage of the Assamese people”.

There have been strong criticisms over the inefficiency of the Government of India and the State government of Assam in implementing the safeguards promised in Clause 6.

  • What constitutes the ‘safeguards’ promised in Clause 6 has been a subject of debate for years.
  • Who are eligible for availing safeguards guaranteed under Clause 6 is another subject of debate. The indigenous people of Assam want to fix the cutoff date to classify ‘Assamese people’ at 1951. They argue that the immigrants who came to India between 1951 and 1971 shall be granted the Indian citizenship rights, but not the safeguards promised to ‘Assamese people’ under Clause 6
THE CITIZENSHIP (AMENDMENT) BILL OF 2019

It has been strongly resisted by the indigenous people of Assam as it proposes to grant Indian citizenship rights to illegal immigrants from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, who belong to the following six religious communities, Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Zoroastrianism and Christianity and arrived at India on or before 31st December 2014.

  • The Government of India has promised to update National Register of Citizens(NRC) of Assam and deport the illegal immigrants. But the proposed Citizenship (Amendment) Bill of 2019 contradicts the NRC and its purpose.

THE CITIZENSHIP (AMENDMENT) BILL, 2019:

1.  The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 seeks to amend the Citizenship Act of 1955 by adding two provisions.

●    It allows the illegal immigrants to India belonging to six religious minority communities such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, Zoroastrianism, Jainism and Sikhism from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh to be eligible for availing Indian citizenship.

●    It also says that the registration of Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) card-holders may be cancelled if they violate any law.

2.  The Bill seeks to protect the illegal immigrants from the above six minority communities from arrest and deportation.

3.  The Bill seeks to reduce the minimum number of years of residence in india required to be eligible for availing Indian citizenship from 11 to 6 years for such immigrants.

4.  The Bill does not extend the protection to other minority communities such as Muslims, Jews and Bahais from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.

NATIONAL REGISTER OF CITIZENS (NRC):

1.  NRC is the registry of citizens of India residing in Assam. It is available only for the state of Assam because of its unique problem of illegal immigration.

2.  The purpose of NRC is to identify the illegal immigrants residing in Assam.

3.  The first NRC was prepared in 1951.

4.  Since the Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971, the influx of illegal migrants from Bangladesh has been gliding up.

5.  Following the agitations of indigenous people of Assam, Assam Accord was signed between the Government of India and the leaders of Assam Movement in 1985.

6.  The Assam Accord provide for detection and deportation of illegal immigrants who came to India after 24th March 1971.

7.  For the detection of illegal immigrants, the second NRC has been prepared by the Government of India following the Supreme Court order in 2013.

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