STEALTH: The National Register of Citizens has been cunningly changed into the National Population Register. Same questions but no proof
BY RAJAN NARAYAN
AND a few stray thoughts on Home Minister Amit Shah sneaking the National Population Register population register on us instead of the National Register of Citizens NRC. For a Saturday following the week when Goa had a very dull Christmas with hotel occupancy less than 50%. For a Saturday following the week when Percept managed to bribe its way into holding the Sunburn electronic music festival. For a Saturday following the week when as a reaction to the migrant influx a POGO movement has started in Goa. For a Saturday following the week when only the rich and the poorest seem to be thriving at the expense of the middle class.
AMIT PULLS A CON
And a few stray thoughts on Amit Shah pulling a con on all those opposing the Constitutional Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens. On Tuesday the Cabinet sneaked in the National Population Register which is more or less a clone of the National Citizens Register (NAC). There have been widespread objection to the Constitutional Amendment Act (CAA) combined with the National Register of Citizens (NRC) as being discriminatory and unconstitutional. Both the CAA and the NRC make religion as proof of citizenship. In the light of the country wide agitations and the refusal of seven chief ministers to implement it, the Sangh Parivar decided to take a detour.
On Tuesday Information & Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar very innocently claimed that the government is only updating the National Population Register. It must be made very clear that the NPR is not the same as the decennial census which is only due in 1920. The BJP also claims that the UPA government headed by Manmohan Singh had first initiated the NPR. Apparently, the objection was that ten years was too long a period to update data on population growth. Moreover the census which takes place once in ten years does not take into consideration citizens migrating from one city to another during the decade.
NO PROOF FOR NPC
Amit Shah repeatedly reiterated that unlike in the case of the NRC citizens will not have to produce proof when surveyors come for house-to-house updating of the population register. The population register is proposed to be updated from April 1 (it is not an April Fool’s joke) and will be completed by September 31, 2020. There are many close similarities between the format of the discarded National Register of Citizens and National Population Register. Modi confirmed in one of his rare interviews with NDTV that citizens will have to provide the date and place of not only their birth but the birth and place of residence of his/her parents.
PERIOD OF RESIDENCE
Citizens will also have to provide details of their Aadhar card, passport number, driving license and voter ID card. The most dangerous inputs would be how long a person has resided in an area for the past six months or more. In the case of citizens who have changed residence they will have to clarify if they intend to continue to reside in that area for the next six months. Modi kept insisting that the major difference between the NRC and NPR population is that no proof will be demanded from any citizen on information they are asked to provide. This is unlike the National Register of Citizens implemented in Assam which will demand proof of every statement including date of birth and residence proof.
Both Shah and Javadekar kept insisting that data will be recorded as declared by respondents and no proof or supporting documents will be sought. That sharing Aadhar, passport, driving license and voter ID details will be voluntary. Pan card details will not be sought and there will be no collection of biometrics like thumb print and eye photographs. The catch is that the government in any case already has the biometrics and can excess them through the 130 crore Aadhar cards that have been issued which is 90% of the total population. The understanding is that citizens will also be asked details of their education qualifications, present jobs, bank account numbers and details, insurance taken and their investments in shares and mutual funds. They will also have to provide details of their community and caste. So the objective of isolating Muslims and Scheduled Tribes will be achieved through the back door.
A SIGNIFICANT proportion of the tribal population are Catholics or Muslims. Javadekar blithely declared that while conducting the national population survey no proof would be asked as they have faith in the people, however there are doubts. If one refuses to answer sensitive questions asked by the enumerators the government may take revenge. When asked by a NDTV reporter in the live interview with Home Minister Amit Shah on Tuesday night, he hinted that Opposition states which do not cooperate may not get Central grants. They may also not be included in Central social welfare schemes.
The National Population Register is the wolf in sheep’s clothing. It is going to be identical to the National Register of Citizens. You’re damned if you do and doubly damned if you don’t. It is the same information that the BJP will extort from you except that it is being called updating of National Population Register and not the implementation of National Register of Citizens.
As in the case of the CAA it is fait accompli as the Cabinet has already sanctioned `3,900 crore to update the National Population Register. No bill is needed as it has already been in existence as passed by the UPA government when Manmohan Singh was the prime minister. Manmohan Singh introduced the bill to expand the scope of welfare schemes. The BJP is taking advantage of the scheme to limit the benefits under welfare schemes only to their supporters.
In the meanwhile there is no change in the CAA where no Muslim refugee will be granted citizenship. It is still not clear what the Centre intends to do to Goans holding Portuguese passports. There as many as 12 lakh Goans who have Portuguese passports worldwide, the majority of them residing in the UK. The UK Portuguese passport holders may have to quit if no agreement is reached with the European Economic Community on terms of the exit of UK from EEC. At present the UK is a member of the EEC which stipulates that there is no need for visas or work permits among EEC member countries, which include the whole of Europe and even part of Eastern Europe like the Ukraine. The UK cannot afford to force the unskilled to leave as 90% of the housekeeping staff at Heathrow Airport is made up of Goans.
TOURISM LOWEST EVER
AND a few stray thoughts on a rather dull Christmas compared to previous years. According to the Travel & Tourism Association hotel occupancy this year-end is less than 50%. For some strange reason even the usual gamblers from Delhi and Mumbai have not turned up as Christmas falls on a weekday this year. A Wednesday Christmas day is a working day and gamblers normally fly in on Fridays and return on Sunday or Monday morning. Hotels also are not keen on offering accommodation to the punters as rates are very high in the peak of the peak Christmas and New Year season. The traditional arrangement between hotels and casinos is that the casino pays for hotel room as long as the gambler deposits a minimum of `1 lakh with the casino.
During Christmas time airfares also shoot up. Which increases the cost for gamblers. The net result is that excepting for the NRIs most of whom have their own family homes in Goa, Christmas is not a good season in terms of occupancy for the travel and tourism industry. Unfortunately, the taxi drivers who extort money will also be affected due to the absence of gamblers.
Part of the lack of enthusiasm over Christmas may be the slowdown in the economy and steep increase in prices of vegetables and other essential commodities. The automobile industry has been showing negative growth continuously for the last one year as against an average of 10% increase every month and up to 25% during the festive season. This has also led to large scale retrenchment in the auto industry. The very rich of course are not affected as there is no drop in sales of Mercedes and Jaguar. The IT industry which used to literally hire engineers by the lakh has stopped recruiting any engineers. Instead, they are recruiting commerce and psychology students who are apparently better at coding than engineering students.
The real nightmare is for middle level managers in the IT industry of the rank of vice-president. There has been large scale sacking of middle level managers as they are not earning as much as they are being paid. The IT industry operates on the principle that every employee should earn at least ten times what he is paid. Wherever the robots can substitute humans, the managers have been replaced. As robots do not complain about increments and turn out to be more efficient than managers.
STEEP PRICE HIKE
The other factor is the price factor. It is not just onions that have become as expensive as gold. The price of milk is all set to go up by ` 4 per litre in Goa and even Amul is planning to hike prices. The floods in various parts of the country have destroyed grazing fields and made fodder more expensive. The Sangh Parivar’s attitude to cow slaughter has also disrupted the dairy industry. Many dairy farmers who used to sell their animals to butchers after their productive life was over are now left with the burden of looking after them. They dare not slaughter their dairy animals out of fear of Sangh Parivar goons.
Indeed, in most BJP states with the exception of Goa cow slaughter is totally banned. The increase in prices including the sharp rise in air fares and hotel tariffs has discouraged tourists from coming to Goa. The closure of Thomas Cook has affected the arrival of British tourists. The fact that the beach shacks have still not come up also discouraged foreign tourists. The tourism industry is now banking on Sunburn to make up for some of the losses of the peak season in Goa.
AND a few stray thoughts on Sunburn being the most relentless of the EDM music concerts. The organizers are so confident of persuading politicians to give them permission that they start selling tickets six months after they get in principle clearance. This year Babu Azgaonkar was very anxious to get them to return to Goa which is their favorite destination. But their friendship with Babu Azgaonkar did not help them this time. In the confidence that Babu who is close to CM Pramod Sawant will take care of the clearances, they started putting up their infrastructure in Anjuna village three months ahead of the event.
They did not take into account the ongoing war between the Siolim MLA Vinod Paliencar under which Vagator and Anjuna come and Babu Azgaonkar. The Siolim MLA belongs to the Goa Forward party which is out of the Cabinet. Worse still Sunburn did not even seek mandatory NOC from the local Panchayat. So the Sarpanch approached the High Court on grounds that Sunburn had constructed illegal structures without the permission of the Panchayat. To the shock of the over smart Sunburn organizers the High Court ordered them to dismantle and remove all the structures put up and ask for NOC first. The High Court also directed them to pay a sum of `2.25 crore in advance towards cost of venue, infrastructure, waste management and security.
Year after year Sunburn has got away with defaulting on their commitments to the government. Their arrears run into 100 crore over the years. Their strategy has been to apply for a license under a new name each time, disowning the liabilities of their siblings. It is the Percept Advertising group which has been organizing Sunburn all these years. Except that when they apply, like the chameleon they change colors. Even this time it looks like they will hold their event on December 27 and 28 as scheduled. The High Court has been lenient and diluted its earlier order, permitting them to apply for NOC without demolition existing structures. They have also paid `2.25 crore as advance towards various charges like venue fee, etc. Whether they will pay for security and waste management this year is yet to be seen. But since Babu Azgaonkar is hell bent on holding the festival and has the support of both tourism authorities and chief minister they will probably get away with all their illegalities.
AND a few stray thoughts on the formation of POGO as a reaction to increasing influx of migrants into Goa. In the last one year there has been a huge influx of people from Assam and Orissa. This is besides Goa being converted into a mini-Kathmandu. A large number of Muslims have also started fleeing Uttar Pradesh since Yogi Adityanath became chief minister. I can see them when I go for my weekly hair cut or shave. All the barbers in the saloons and hair dressers in beauty parlors are either from UP or the north-east. Some of them have even imported staff from Thailand and Indonesia.
For some reason the most resented are the Lamani. Historically, the Lamani have been controlling all the trading on the beaches. They are an extremely intelligent tribe from neighboring Karnataka with incredible multilingual skills. Within weeks of coming to Goa they pick up Russian and even Hebrew to deal with Russian and Israeli tourists. English of course is mother’s milk to them. As long as they stayed on the beaches nobody was bothered. But then they started taking over the shops leading to the beaches. The last straw was when they started applying for government jobs and got them. To facilitate their securing jobs and gaining greater acceptance they changed their names to that of the Goan OBC community which has a 20% reservation in jobs and admission to schools and colleges.
The Lamani are also competing with the beauty parlors as their massages are better and cheaper. All the fancy stores along the Candolim-Calangute belt who sell sarongs also have lost out to the Lamani. Migrants who arrive in Goa from any part of the country or from Nepal which is not part of India get a job immediately as they are willing to do any kind of manual work in sharp contrast to Goans who are not willing to do any manual work including farming. Agriculture is dead because the second generation of Goa’s traditional farmers are not interested in tilling the soil.