“Stop and Think Again” :Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo Caution India on CAA, NRC

Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo Image credit -HT Photo [ file photo]

Sadhguru has not read about the Citizenship Amendment Act, but Nobel laureates Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo definitely have. In an article for The Indian Express, the duo has disapproved NRC and CAA as “meddlesome officialdom.” Revisiting Narendra Modi’s 2014 slogan of minimum government and maximum governance, they argue that the state should be empowering but not overpowering and must not pervade every aspect of citizens’ lives. 

Drawing upon their fieldwork, they recount instances wherein it was very difficult for a woman in West Bengal to name her birthplace. Such is the scenario today that thousands like her without documents could be declared foreigners or rendered stateless. “If you are not citizen of the country where you have lived all your life, and no one else wants you, who are you? And it is what many young people are upset about.”, observe Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo.

Low-skilled migration is not a problem. It has been empirically observed that it does not harm the income of other low-skilled workers. Migrants also contribute to the local economy by using their income to buy commodities. The scarcity of local government is a larger and deeper structural crisis and is not induced by migration. The writers are critical of the paranoia surrounding migration because it creates more and more boundaries. Urging us to open all doors, Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo urge us to become more open, tolerant, democratic and inclusive. 

CAA 2019 approved by both Houses of the Parliament last month aims to provide citizenship to religiously persecuted non-Muslim minorities from the Islamic nations of Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan. Similarly, the NRC exercise conducted in Assam and soon to be replicated in rest of India has met with several protests because it discriminates against the poor and the minorities.

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