India’s new citizenship act legalizes a Hindu nation
December 18, 2019 4.43pm EST
India’s recently passed Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 is a frontal assault on the idea of India as a secular, pluralist democracy.
For the first time, legal sanction has been given to the recasting of India as a Hindu majoritarian nation where minorities, especially Muslims, are second-class citizens. Signed into law after rushed debates in the parliament, the act is a stark regression of the trajectory of India as a mature constitutional democracy.
The new law makes religious affiliation one of the grounds for citizenship, violating the basic structure of the Indian constitution. It infringes on Articles 14 and 15, which guarantee equality before the law and non-discrimination on religious grounds.
The act targets and further marginalizes India’s beleaguered Muslim minority by intentionally omitting Muslim migrants who have lived in India for decades and their India-born descendants from its scope. Muslim migrants will now have a harder time acquiring Indian citizenship. By extension, the act makes it easier for the government to terrorize, imprison and deport Muslim migrants.