Shaheen Bagh: The undying protest

Shaheen Bagh has become the central battle field for the war against CAA as well as NRC.  The Shaheen Bagh protest began with just 10 to 15 local women on the afternoon of 14 December 2019. Later it developed into a 24/7 sit-in protest where locals and more women joined in, the extent of the protest kept growing and reached to an extensive amount of 1,00,000. The primary aim for the peaceful protest is the retraction of the CAA as well as refrain from implementing NRC-NPC across the country.

CAA or The Citizenship Amendment Act of 2019 was passed by the Parliament of India on 11 December 2019. It amended the Citizenship Act of 1955 by providing a path to Indian citizenship for illegal migrants of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi, and Christian religious minorities, who had fled persecution from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan before December 2014. Muslims from those countries were not given such eligibility. The act was the first time religion had been overtly used as a criterion for citizenship under Indian law which goes against article 14.

Article 14 – Equality before law The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth.

Republic day

There have been efforts to remove or relocate the protest from Shaheen Bagh to a place where it would not be at a central location as to not restrict traffic, but till now Delhi high court has refused the plea. Delhi police has dealt it as a matter of traffic matter but would not use force instead use “persuasion”, there have been quite a handful cases of police brutality since the apex of the protests from JNU to Jamia Millia Islamia, there are also been protests regarding the aforementioned brutality. Protesters have said they will help relieve the traffic congestion but won’t budge until CAA is scrapped.

Till now, the Shaheen Bagh protesters have shown no sign of relenting. On the other hand, the Narendra Modi government has stood firm saying the CAA will not be taken back. This looks a stalemate kind of a situation.

But despite the government’s stand of “not budging an inch” on the Citizenship Amendment Act that seeks to expedite procedure for naturalisation of non-Muslim illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan, the Shaheen Bagh protest has visibly put the BJP-led NDA on the back-foot. Not less than Prime Minister Narendra has announced a sort of retreat on the issue of CAA-NPR-NRC.

PM Modi and a host of his ministers have clarified on multiple platforms that the CAA “does not affect Indian Muslims”. PM Modi accused the Congress and other Opposition parties of leading a misinformation campaign over CAA and alleging that individuals and groups with vested interests are using anti-CAA protesters to spread anti-India agenda.

Tents in the freezing nights of Delhi.

There are clear signs of climbdown by the Modi government on the issue of the CAA-NPR-NRC. During the discussion on the CAA, Union Home Minister Amit Shah declared the NRC (National Register of Citizens) would definitely be prepared despite hue and cry by the Opposition. He has long pitched for a pan-India NRC saying “every infiltrator will be thrown out” of the country.

Days after Amit Shah’s NRC declaration in Parliament, PM Modi – with Shaheen Bagh protest gathering momentum against the CAA – told a public rally in Delhi that there was “no discussion in the government” about NRC. This was the first sign that the government was in retreat on this issue which began as security challenge but turned into an emotive one.

Later, the government told Parliament in a written reply that there was no decision on the proposed pan-India NRC.

Given the legal status and connection of the NRC with the NPR (National Population Register), the government actually does not require to conduct an exclusive NRC drive. The data gathered for the NPR can be used to prepare the NRC.

The protesters at Shaheen Bagh have since then deflected the protest to target the NPR exercise. Some of the states beginning West Bengal and Kerala have already halted the process of NPR.

In this backdrop, the anti-CAA protest at Shaheen Bagh – piloted by women, particularly those from the Muslim community – has achieved what many other protests, especially those led by political parties, have failed to accomplish. Protests against demonetisation, GST rollout, Rafale deal and triple talaq law are such examples of protests failing to achieve their objective.

There have been multiple attempts to demean or reject the protests by many BPJ politicians including Yogi Adityanath, there also have been constant firing near the site of protest, how will the protest turn is something to keep our eyes on as citizens of India as it is bound to be a monumental moment in our history.

Delhi Elections: The Future of Delhi

The 2020 Delhi state elections has everyone’s eyes on it after the turmoil in the state after the CAA and NRC decisions made by BJP government, AAP has become one of the newer as well as major opposition party against BJP government after the decline of Congress party.

Elections to Delhi’s legislative assembly are just around the corner with voting scheduled to take place on February 8th. The results will be announced on February 11th. The highly charged elections are a three-way contest between the incumbent Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Indian National Congress (INC). The assembly has 70 seats in total.

BJP : Divider in chief

“These elections are going to be an election of the country”, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a rally, days before Delhi votes on February 8.
Judging by the campaigners fielded by his party, it’s obvious that this election is of great importance to the BJP. On February 4, when Modi reached the grounds of a DDA park in Dwarka, his words were telling: “Friends, Delhi elections are the first elections of the year”, he said to a crowd chanting “Modiji ko Jai Shri Ram, Jai Shri Ram”.
Modi continued, “These elections are going to be an election of the country…and the country’s progress will depend on today’s decision that you make…The capital will decide the roadmap for the next decade.”

Narendra Modi
BJP Rally

There has been growing concern towards Delhi elections after the extensive protests as it was the epicenter of the same. There have been a few violent attacks on peaceful protestors by armed goons. The police force has been dubbed as puppets out to stifle dissent, making the atmosphere even tenser.
One of the foremost purveyors of this discourse, MP Parvesh Singh Verma of the BJP, was banned by the Election Commission for 96 hours for saying that protestors of Shaheen Bagh will go into people’s homes and rape their daughters and mothers. While he was back on the stage after his prohibition ended — he was banned again from campaigning a few days later after he called Kejriwal a “terrorist”.
Raking up national issues like terrorism and Pakistan during the election campaign of a union territory (or a state like Maharashtra) has become a tried and tested method for BJP, even though it has not given them spectacular results. During the general elections, most BJP supporters said they feel the country is in danger and a leader like Modi is the armor the nation needs.
But BJP has a tough fight cut out for it. While national issues are always hot topics of discussion among voters, what also concerns the people of Delhi is its law and order, safety, healthcare, schools, water, electricity, jobs, and infrastructure. And the biggest competition here is the AAP, which is fighting to retain the 67 seats it won in 2015.

Up and coming AAP

AAP’s campaign has mostly been based on self-promotion and countering the Opposition’s claims, especially the allegation that AAP failed to keep its promises, and that the CM does not do his job. Twitter especially has been the fulcrum of mudslinging, but Modi in his campaign speech also made such remarks.

AAP Rallly

AAP released its report card in December last year, telling voters about its achievements in education, like constructing 20,000 classrooms; in health, with the opening of 400 Mohalla Clinics; on providing free 20,000-litre water, electricity subsidy, CCTV cameras and more.
After this, a 10-point personal guarantee card was released in early January. This includes free public transport for women and students, basic facilities for unauthorized colonies, good education for students until graduation, affordable and quality healthcare, better security for women, 24-hour electricity supply and a garbage-free Capital.
One issue that has received much attention is th

e healthcare system in Delhi, with a defiant Kejriwal not allowing the Ayushman Bharat scheme. The AAP government maintains that with free healthcare in its government hospitals, it does not need the Centre’s scheme.

AAP, which has been kindly judged for its education reforms, in its manifesto promises to provide a “world-class education facility” for every child. Besides that, it promises to provide a public transportation system with over 11,000 buses, and extending its free bus rides for women to include students as well.

Delhi elections would have been game-changing as AAP has forced BJP and Congress to fight elections not the basis of religion, but Education, Health Care, Electricity, etc. Exit votes suggest AAP would come back into power, we shall wait for the results on 11th February 2020.

The “Doomsday Clock”; 100 seconds to Armageddon

The Doomsday Clock is a symbol that represents the doom of mankind and how close we are to our demise. The clock is a reminder for the unchecked technological and scientific advancements, The clock represents man-made destruction of humankind. The clock is maintained by Atomic Scientist.

On 23 January 2020 after 75 years after the first issue of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists the hand of the clock was moved 20 seconds closer to midnight, the “END” closest it has ever been, past social issues or nuclear threats have not brought it this close to midnight, even the forever expectation of nuclear war in the era of Cold War or the threats made by North Korea still did not pose such threat as we face today.

 But now the team behind the clock says the threat is even more severe.

“Faced with this daunting threat landscape and a new willingness of political leaders to reject the negotiations and institutions that can protect civilization over the long term, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Science and Security Board today moves the Doomsday Clock 20 seconds closer to midnight—closer to apocalypse than ever.”

“It is 100 seconds to Midnight”

Asia was where the eyes were this time around, with the increasing tensions between five out of nine countries that have nuclear capabilities, Russia, China, Pakistan, India, and North Korea. All were at the verge of full-on war by one conflict, the world waits and sees which conflict would that be; The South China Sea as China expands its influence as well and economical prowess upon the area as well as the ongoing internal conflicts with Taiwan as well as Hong Kong.

India and Pakistan have their tensions rising as the issue of Kashmir has brought on the center plate for each of them, relations between the two countries have forever been sour since they got their independence, religious discrimination runs rampant and one of the crucial reason for separation. New Laws like CAA and NRC also bring forth internal conflict in India.

Prospects of nuclear war higher than it has ever been before.

North Korea and the Korean peninsula has been unstable since the end of World War 2 and it might be the reason for the Third one as well, the Korean peninsula was divided by the two superpowers after World War 2, i.e. USA and USSR with each controlling South Korea and North Korea respectively.

Robert Rosner, chair of the Bulletin’s science and security board, stated that the world right now is “profoundly unstable.” He added that threats are compounded by an increase in “cyber-enabled disinformation campaigns,” which is crippling “the public’s ability to sort out what’s true and what’s patently false.”

Climate change and the constant ignorance of the world leaders towards it is also an alarming sign which should not be taken lightly, the signs of climate change are here, it is undeniable. Extreme climate disasters are happening all across the world from the fires that burned Australia to the floods which drowned Africa.

Internet is now widespread and can be accessed with one click but with the increasingly pressing issue of disinformation and manipulation of the masses which undermines domestic and international efforts to promote peace and prosper the planet.

Influential leaders instead of working together and aiming for world peace and protecting the environment are instead taking actions towards narrow short term personal interest while at the same time undermining scientific as well as global progress.

Doomsday clock is an alarm for the world to wake up, and being 100 seconds away from “Midnight” we don’t have time to sit idle, otherwise, we would have nothing left.