Too much engagement with an issue doesn’t mean that its solution is easy and nearby, if the motive behind the engagement is extraneous. Here lies the basic difference between the study of natural sciences and social sciences. Unfortunately these days even the research in some branches of natural sciences is also decided by extraneous factors. It happens too often in the research of biotechnology and medical science.
The profit motive of the corporates has also pervaded the field of scientific research. Certain researches may be encouraged because those may bring more profit to the corporates and certain others may be discouraged though they may be good for people. In social sciences the problem is by nature manifold.
Here the interpretation of an issue may differ as per the interests of the interpreter. The clarity of understanding suffers when it is studied by a participant observer. What a peculiar situation? See how the distance and closeness to an issue affect its study? But there is no way out. Our position on an issue is determined by our interests.
A very clear issue in hand is the ongoing controversy on updating of the NRC in Assam. The controversy has thickened while the final date of its publication is nearing fast. Why there is so much hullabaloo on it? It is very clear. A correct and updated NRC will affect various people variously. First things first. It will help us understand the dimension and severity of the foreign national issue.
A large section of people will heave a sigh of relief as nobody in future will be able to question their citizenship and harass them as foreigners. Again, the section of people who will be left out of the updated NRC will look at it differently. Then there is another section of people who will be unhappy because no longer they will be able to use the foreign national issue for political motivation.
People who wanted a permanent solution to the foreign national issue welcomed the updating of the NRC because this issue has been creating tension in the Assamese society for decades. Till this issue is resolved it will continue to haunt us socially and divisive forces will take advantage of it.
It is sad and unfortunate, but true that some political parties want the statuesque to continue so that they can play politics around it. If we remember the brief history of updating of the NRC, things will be clear to us. The updating of the NRC was progressing in snail’s pace till the Supreme Court intervened in it.
The pace accelerated once the SC took upon itself the task of monitoring its progress regularly. We also remember how various hurdles and roadblocks were created to disturb the pace of the acceleration. Let us not remember the small details, but concentrate on the mega ones.
The first shock wave was created when the first draft of the NRC was published. When it was known that about 40, 00,000 people were dropped from the first list, it was interpreted differently by different people. Some celebrated it saying that it vouched their suspicion as they suspected the presence of that many number of foreign nationals in Assam. Again, another section from within and outside the state, more from outside created a ruckus in the national and international media saying that by one single stroke such a huge number of people were made homeless citizens by the NRC authorities in Assam.
But both the sections missed the point that that was only the first draft of the NRC with obvious loopholes. It was clearly stated again and again that people whose names didn’t appear in it will get ample opportunity and time to approach the authorities for the same. No, that didn’t cut much ice with the people who were spreading the canard.
Then, there was a phase of complaints. The entire NRC procedure is about claim and objections. Again some noises were created over this too. But it is true that some unscrupulous people largely complained against a section of religious minority with a hidden agenda.
A large number of people despite possessing valid documents were harassed which could have been avoided. Then, came the calculated motive of the state and the central government to stall the NRC process saying that there were many mistakes in it.
Both the governments wanted again 20% re-verification of all the entries. But the Supreme Court has ruled it out. Despite this the BJP is trying its best to stall the NRC process. Overnight it has created some forum just to oppose the NRC process fearing that it will legitimize the citizenship of a large section of people belonging to religious minority community.
Again there is another section which wants to completely downplay the foreign national issue and is against the updating of the NRC. Either intentionally or naively they fail to understand the identity concerns of the indigenous Assamese people. Some national and international agencies are also involved in it.
The moot point is NRC in Assam is being updated under the supervision of the SC. Since the beginning the updating process has been subjected to various legal scrutinizes. Then, why is the ruling party at the Centre and the State against it? Is it that they want to keep the foreign national issue alive in Assam to use it for electoral purpose?