The Republic of India is the world’s second most populist country after China with a total population of 1.44 billion people. New Delhi also boasts the seventh-highest landmass with 1.27 million square miles (3.29 million square km). As per the report of the Indian government, there are 122 major languages and 1599 other languages spoken across the country.

India has no national language as the Constitution of the country does not grant this title to any language spoken in the country, which is against populist beliefs.

Hindi and English both are official languages of India. Hindi is the most spoken language in the country followed by Bengali and Marathi. Likewise, different ethnicities are present in India due to the large number of population. New Delhi has more than two thousand ethnic groups and every major religion is represented.

These ethnic groups are struggling to find a peaceful place in the country where they can live without the environment of fear and chaos. The incidents of discrimination against non-Hindus groups across the country have increased extensively. Similarly, New Delhi is a diverse multiethnic country that is home to thousands of small ethnic and tribal groups. That complexity developed from a lengthy and involved process of migration and intermarriage.

Before the arrival of Premier Modi in the power corridor of New Delhi, somehow India has been following secular norms and traditions, laid down in the Indian constitution. Under the Congress government led by Premier Manmohan Singh, India tried to extend support to all ethnic communities including Muslims, Christians, and other groups. Although, some incidents of mob lynching were reported across the country, but largely there was a peaceful environment for non-Hindu groups. However, things have drastically changed since the arrival of the BJP-led Modi government. Incidents of mob lynching have witnessed a dramatic increase in the last 10 years.

BJP government and its ultranationalist Hindu leaders have been pursuing Hindutva-driven policies, aimed at spreading chaos and elements of fear among non-Hindu groups. Hindu zealots are roaming freely and targeting minority groups, particularly Muslims. BJP-led state governments are also toeing the lines of central government. This trend has made the lives of Muslim groups miserable. Unfortunately, all this is being done at the behest of the central government.

In addition, the BJP government has appointed hawkish Hindu leaders to key central as well as state positions. For instance, the appointment of hardliner Yogi Aditianath and Shiv Raj Chohan as Chief Ministers of the most populist states Utter Pradesh (UP) and Madhya Pradesh (MP), respectively have further increased the element of fear among non-Hindu groups.

The CAA has been a subject of intense debate and controversy since its proposal, floated by Home Minister Amit Shah.

While proponents argue that it provides refuge to persecuted minorities from neighboring countries, critics contend that its implementation will exacerbate polarization within Indian society.

For further implementation of the central government’s policies against minority groups, BJP-led states have been passing discriminatory laws to target particular groups and individuals. Modi government also introduced the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC) to accommodate non-Hindu groups excluding Muslims from South Asia.

Both laws are aimed at deporting Muslims from India who came from different countries of South Asia including Pakistan. Human rights groups, the international community, and other groups have repeatedly raised serious concerns regarding these laws of citizenship. However, BJP governments in the center and states have refused to stay implementation of the law.

Enacted in 2019, both CAA and NRC aim to expedite the citizenship process for undocumented immigrants from specific religious minorities – Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi, and Christian – who migrated to India from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan before December 31, 2014. However, it excludes Muslims from its purview, leading to accusations of religious discrimination.

Chief Ministers of UP, MP, and Assam have become mouthpieces of the party to execute anti-Muslim policies. In UP, violence against non-Hindu groups particularly Muslims has increased to a dangerous level. BJP-led states have announced full implementation of CAA laws and deportation of Muslims from their states, which has further intensified polarization in the society. The Modi government has been ignoring the ethos of secularism by leaving no space for minority groups.

The implementation of the CAA has the potential to deepen existing fault lines within Indian society along religious and ideological lines. Critics argue that by explicitly excluding Muslims, the CAA undermines India’s secular fabric and fosters division. Furthermore, the association of citizenship with religious identity perpetuates a narrative of exclusion, alienating marginalized communities. Muslims, as the primary religious group excluded from the CAA, fear marginalization and discrimination.

The legislation amplifies feelings of insecurity and exclusion among India’s Muslim population, exacerbating existing tensions and fostering a sense of alienation.

The implementation of both NRC and CAA has sparked widespread debate and controversy regarding its potential to exacerbate polarization within society. Critics argue that the exclusionary nature of the CAA undermines India’s secular identity and fosters division along religious lines. As the country grapples with these challenges, it is imperative to address concerns about inclusivity, equality, and social cohesion to ensure a more harmonious and pluralistic society.

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