What will be your reaction when you get to know that you don’t have anything to prove your citizenship? Won’t you be anxious to hear that you are about to get displaced from your own country? More than four million residents of India may be blacklisted as foreign migrants, in what is being called the most significant disenfranchisement exercise in history. However, the crackdown on illegal immigration is unlikely to trigger instant deportations on a grand scale, according to a Northeastern Professor, Liza Weinstein, whose focus includes the urban political economy of India.
Too many people in India lack the documentation to prove their citizenship, says Weinstein, which may force the government to scale back its expectations. “I do not believe that over four million people will be deported,” says Weinstein, who chairs Northeastern University’s Department of Sociology and Anthropology. She added, “This roll-out ended up being much messier than the government intended it to be.” For the past four years, the 31 million residents of Assam, a state in northeastern India, have been ordered to prove their citizenship. The Hindu nationalist government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is focused on Muslims who entered India illegally.
The government is expected to publish its National Register of Citizens. Detention centres and other means of prosecution have been sprouting up in anticipation of the deadline. Weinstein points out that many legal citizens lack the documents or political sophistication to prove that they belong in India. A provisional list of people who may be denied citizenship included many Hindus. Many analysts have understood this as being connected to India teetering on economic recession. There’s an economic slowdown, growth rates are lower, and this is a way to turn people’s attention away from that and onto something else. A whole range of social ills are blamed on the immigrant population, as we see right-wing governments do around the world: Whatever problems you have, you blame them on the immigrants. It’s also very much on-brand with Modi’s type of Hindu nationalism: India for Hindus.