Our Voice on Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), 2019
Mr Narendra Modi,
Prime Minister of India
At this critical moment when we witness the waves of violence being unleashed in university campuses and major cities, we, the members of the Indian Christian Women’s Movement wish to express our deep concerns over the divisive factors tearing apart the secular and inclusive social fabric of India. Behind the aggressive measures to enforce the CAA and the NRC, we see subtle moves to turn our country into a mono-cultural and mono-religious state, a process that will wreck the very identity and integrity of this great nation, built on democratic and pluralistic principles. We as Christian women stand in solidarity with students, youth, women, Tribal and Adivasi communities,Dalits, sexual minorities and most importantly religious minorities - all citizens of this country, who are engaging in an un-relenting protest to defend the spirit of the Indian Constitution and thus safeguard the soul of this great land.
Sir, we ask why the NRC and CAA are so important to the ruling disposition when the economy of the country is in a shambles – increasing unemployment, rising prices and fall in production are all clearly evident. India is lagging far behind in the recently announced Human Development Index, the Gender Index and many other measures that are important indicators of growth as a nation state. In the stubborn insistence to go ahead with the NRC and CAA, we see nothing but a strategy to divert the attention of the people from the real issues and the development agenda. We question the huge amount allocated to this futile and unimportant exercise, when the resources could be chanelled towards the more urgent needs in the areas of education, health, nutrition, agriculture and employment generation. Besides these issues,we reject NRC/CAA as it is premised on an exclusion formula with a marked religious basis.
As Christian women committed to peace and justice for all people, we are deeply saddened by the culture of violence perpetrated by the so-called guardians of law and order that has led to the brutal abuse and killings even of peaceful protestors and students in many states of the country since introduction of CAA/NRC. We strongly condemn the torture that has been meted out on peace loving protestors in UP and the sexual abuse of young Muslim boys. Such targeting of a particular religious group does live up to our secular credentials.
Sir, we need not remind you that the role of a government is to create conditions for citizens to live together in love and harmony rather than in division and segregation in the name of religion, as it is against the ethos of our constitution. We demand that the government rolls back this unwanted exercise of CAA and NRC and focuses on real issues affecting the country like the fragile economy, gender justice and women’s safety, climate emergencies and the rights of the most marginalized. Besides, we want you to pay urgent attention to the fact that moves to implement the CAA are destroying the spirit of “Vasudeiva Kudumbakam” from the sacred text of the Upanishads that has instilled in us Indians the bonds of unity and enabled us to see the world as ‘one family’. All these noble features of the Indian polity stand threatened.
In this time of celebrating the birth centenary of Dr. Savithribai Phule, we also remember Fatima Sheikh and Pandita Ramabhai and all who have contributed significantly to the emancipation of vulnerable sections and upheld justice beyond the discriminative hierarchies based on class, caste and gender. We reiterate that as Christian women of India, we will stand together with all people of good will who risk their lives in order to preserve the multi-religious and multi-cultural texture of this country.
We end with a prayer that the spirit of Wisdom may prevail on the political leaders and demand that CAA be withdrawn with immediate effect so that justice and peace may prevail in this country.
Dr Aruna Gnanadason, ICWM National Convener,
National Team: Dr Kochurani Abraham, Marcia D'Cunha, Rev Dr Jayachitra Lalitha, Dr Joycia Thorat, Dr Lalnghakthuami, Sushma Ramswami & members of ICWM