Citizenship Amendment Act diverted attention from India’s economic woes. Unemployment, drop in GDP growth rate and high rate of inflation have taken a backseat in the backdrop of Citizenship bill mayhem. The bill seems a perfect way to divert attention from the worrying state of the Indian economy.
The Citizenship Amendment Act
The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) permits legal citizenship to all the immigrants facing religious persecution belonging to six communities. Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis, and Christians migrants till 31st December 2014 from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh. Also, the amendment reduces the duration of residency from 11 years to five years for acquiring citizenship.
The new citizenship law got unexpectedly a fierce reaction from the citizens. Many students, professionals, and religious communities have opposed CAA declaring it as an affront to the constitutional and civic values.
The Economic Effect
India was once considered as the fastest-growing democracy. But the scenario has changed lately. Several rating agencies are following to lower the projections of the GDP growth rate of India, depicting the great slowdown.
India is still struggling to revive from shocks of demonetization and GST. A peaceful environment is an attraction for investment. For a period, India provided a sense of security of long term stability to global investors by assuring them non-violent handling of domestic tension and divisions. However, recent government actions have put the growth of the Indian economy in danger as the prospect of business is low with social and political disruptions. Investor sentiment is highly negative due to recent policies of the government.
The World Bank, ADB, and IMF have joined the trail of lowering India’s GDP growth rate projections after Moody’s cut the growth rate to 4.9% from 5.8%. Several experts have accounted for rural distress, decreasing consumer demand and investment, a broken financial system for the slowdown. Besides, the weather conditions have hit hard the agricultural produce that further added to the slowdown. Even after the reduction of rates by 135 basis points by Reserve Bank of India, the result is insignificant. Also, inflation expectations have edged significantly in the past couple of months. Citing this, experts doubt India’s economic recovery in 2020. Despite the government efforts on ease of doing business and Make in India program, the manufacturing sector’s performance has not shown a big change.
Many countries take refuge in the country based on individual cases and perils to the specific group to which the individuals belong. Instead of passing out new legislation, the government could have tackled the problem through administrative measures. The change in procedure would have affected the people in the same way. A softer approach, perhaps, would have avoided such strong reactions from the public.
Opposition of Citizenship Amendment Act
The opposition party has alleged the BJP government of adopting a non-Muslim favored policy under the cover of representing minorities. Several other political parties have said that citizenship must not be based on religion. Though the Home Minster confirmed that there is no threat to tribal areas of North Eastern States, there is a widespread protest there.
Government’s Response to Protests Against Citizenship Amendment Act
Opposing the allegations, the Union Finance Minister stated that the Act would not curb the pace of the government’s response to the economic situation. She assured people by saying that the government will support every sector by fulfilling their requirements. She further added that the government is working on reviving consumer demand by investing in infrastructure, implementing rural policies and clearing pending dues of MSME’s for economic development.
Amidst such a sluggish economy, the government decided to act on a non-economic agenda and Citizenship Amendment Act. The prioritization of the bill, perhaps, indicates the government’s interest in taking a risk for the economy and development of the country.