Hot News

Yama’s Register

Yama’s Register

Trust begets trust. Somehow I was not convinced of the need for the Aadhar card. This had nothing to do with the Bhartiya Janata Party or its leader Narendra Modi. My opposition began when the idea was conceived by the UPA government. Like countless millions, I, too, was relying on the Supreme Court which was questioning the whole plan.

When I realised that the Modi government was adopting the Aadhar scheme as one of its pivotal schemes and the court was dilly-dallying on the issue, I, too, fell for it, particularly when I started receiving notices from the bank to link my account with my Aadhar card.

I wondered why an Identity card was necessary when my very existence was my greatest proof. Did we not manage as citizens and as a country for millennia without an Aadhar card? At that time, one of my relatives pointed out a verse in the book of Revelation which said that in the end days everybody would become a big number.

Does anyone know what happens to one’s personality once one is jailed? The first thing he loses is his identity. He will have to wear the same dress which every jailbird wears. He can’t have a special collar or different sleeves which will distinguish him from the rest. He will be known in the jail, not by his name but by his number.

Earlier, when the government insisted that I should have a PAN Card, I tried in vain to resist it. When I realised that I could no longer manage without the PAN Card, I obtained it. Once, I had a reason to go to the Income Tax Department when a relative’s income tax return was questioned in a random scrutiny.

That is when an Income Tax officer told me that he could access the person’s bank account and verify the statements made on her behalf. Yes, now the government knows how much money you have in your account, whether they are legitimate or not. It also knows how much TDS was obtained from the account holder.

If the government wants to harass one of its critics, all it will have to do is to delink the Aadhar card from his PAN Card. He can keep on complaining while he will not be able to file his tax return. The IT department can suo motu take action against him for not filing tax returns. In short, he can be jailed.

The only option he will have is to go to the court. Our court and arbitration system is such that even a shareholders’ decision as to who should manage their money and business can be thrown haywire by the arbitration process, as it happened in the Tata Sons’ case.

The decisions are so arbitrary that in the case of the Marad flats, they are being reduced to a debris, while millions of illegal constructions exist in the national capital itself. This being the case, the government’s critic would have realised that it was foolish to question the government, when it has enormous powers to harass the citizen.

The Aadhar card and the demonetisation process were introduced to usher in Modi’s digital India. It is a little repetitive to say that if I owe Rs 1000 to Mr X and Mr X owes Rs 1000 to Mr Y and Mr Y owes a similar amount to Mr Z, I can give Rs 1000 in cash to Mr X to clear my debt. He will give the same amount to Mr Y and Mr Y to Mr Z. The amount remains intact even after a thousand or more such transactions.

In digital India, the amount would have been reduced each time a transaction is made. Now hashtag is a must for all vehicles to cross toll barriers. It will force millions of vehicle owners to deposit a certain amount in the bank and, perchance, the amount falls below the threshold at any point of time, the vehicle owner will have to pay a hefty fine.

Within days, the government would have a huge amount of money in its hands. The other day I found that I was not able to access the Internet because the police had asked the service provider to close its operations in the area in view of the protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act.

For once I realised the enormity of the government’s power to control the citizen’s life. In the wake of the great flood in Kerala in 2018, I met a relative who said that the flood was a great leveller. She had money in the bank to buy anything she wanted but she could not go out of the house as she was marooned. 

Worse, she did not have a proper dress to wear. Why? Because the flood water had destroyed everything. She was in as good or bad a condition as a beggar who goes around looking for alms. My relative was also waiting for food brought from a mosque in a boat by a neighbour.

Today I do most of my purchases through the Internet. I buy books, medicines and provisions and pay electricity and phone bills in the same manner. I can access my bank account on my computer or mobile phone and keep myself going. What will happen if the government orders closing down of the Internet in the area I live in? In fact, that is what it did wherever the agitation against the CAA was strong.

Now, come to think of it, it is now nearly 150 days since the Kashmir Valley was virtually closed down. We often claim that India’s Press enjoys independence and it can even bring down the government as in Maharashtra when AR Antulay was the Chief Minister.

When did you read last a report from Srinagar? Yes, you would have read about the report of some European MPs who were brought there, courtesy an Intelligence operative in London. Do you think the Kashmiris are able to buy their medicines, books and provisions and pay bills through the Net. As someone said, the rich and the poor are alike in Digital India when the government has the power to close down the Internet services.

How many of us bother about the Kashmiris? Why are they treated in this manner? Is it not because they are Muslim? People all over the country stood up against the CAA but what exactly is happening in Uttar Pradesh? It has a Chief Minister who was facing many charges of inciting violence and riots resulting in deaths and destruction of property.

What he did on realising power was to withdraw all the cases against him, instead of coming clean through a judicial process. And it is the same man who has allowed the police to harass the people. The trigger-happy police are allowed to shoot and kill. The establishments of poor people are destroyed and they are now asked to pay huge fines. Who decides the fine and on what basis? It is all arbitrary.

Yesterday, I watched a video in which a man claimed that millions of Pandits were thrown out of Kashmir when a Muslim became Union Home Minister. His point was that Muslims were untrustworthy. What he said was a figment of his own crooked imagination.

There are ministers who speak rubbish in public. We have a minister who goes to a Hindu’s house to console a victim of police firing but not to two Muslim houses in the same locality because they are Muslims and, therefore, “rioters”. It is a different matter that some of the biggest rioters are now the rulers. Has this nation become a theocratic state?

One has reason to believe so. Census is as old as the Bible for the book mentions a census taken when Augustus Caesar was the Emperor. The British were the first to introduce it in India when people were classified on the basis of their caste identity.

In Independent India, census is taken decennially. This time the Union Cabinet has announced a project worth a little less than four billion rupees. It is to create a National Population Register (NPR) for which details will be collected separately by the census enumerator.

The questions the census enumerator, usually a teacher in a nearby government school, asked were, how many children are there, what is the education qualification, do you have a motor vehicle or a refrigerator etc. Such questions are to find out about the level of development of the people. A person who has a four-wheeler is assumed to be “more developed” than someone who does not have even a bicycle, though the latter may be more “developed” because he does not cause pollution.

Be that as it may, this time there may be questions like what all proof do you have that you are an Indian citizen? Until now the definition of an Indian citizen was “one who is ordinarily a resident of India”. In Assam, where a register of citizens was first made, the question asked was what proof they had to prove that they or their parents or grandparents were citizens of India in 1971 or before.

If the same question is asked, crores of people would be found to be illegal immigrants like Jesus was when he and his parents lived for at least four years in Egypt before they could return to Nazareth. The Government has been talking in different tongues on the issue of NPR. They say it is different from Assam’s NRC. 

I have heard Home Minister Amit Shah threatening to remove every single infiltrator from the country. He has no answer to the question who an “infiltrator” is. If the CAA is anything to go by, all Muslims are suspect in the eyes of the government. 

Those who are going to get the benefit of citizenship from among the 19.2 lakh identified in Assam are Hindus. True, Sikhs, Parsis, Christians and Jains who reached India from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan would also be accommodated. The fact of the matter is that such persons are few and far between, if not non-existent.

In Pakistan, there are 3.5 million Hindus and a large number of Christians. They are a patriotic people who are loyal to their country. In Christian churches in Pakistan and the Gulf or anywhere, they pray for the country where they live, not for India from where they came. They are not like the great betrayer from Lanka who betrayed his elder brother.

The CAA will go down in history as the first attempt to discriminate on the basis of religion. Spokesmen of the BJP quote Gandhi, Nehru and even CPM resolutions to justify the CAA. When did the party allow itself to be guided by CPM resolutions? Undoubtedly, there is a trust-deficit between the government and the people.

Thank goodness, the BJP lost its game in Jharkhand. If it had returned to power in Ranchi, it would have claimed that the CAA was endorsed by the voters. If a party has the necessary numbers, it can pass any Bill. Yet, what happened to the Bill the Modi government enacted to do away with the present system of the senior judges of the Supreme Court choosing judges for the Supreme Court.

It was declared a non-entity by the court. The government was sworn in on the basis of the Constitution and Article 14 which proclaims equality is one of its cardinal principles. No government has the right to tamper with the provision. 

It is a pity that when 135 crore people are worried about their bread and butter issues, the government is busy creating divisions among the people on the basis of religion and food habits. The words and actions of the government clearly suggest that it is bent upon making India a theocratic nation. 

Whatever it says, the NPR is a prelude to NRC. How else will the government say that passport, Aadhar, electoral identity card and PAN Card are not proofs of citizenship. 

Hindus believe that Yama has a book in which the names of every person is written. When a person dies, his name will be struck off and when a person is born, it is entered there.

At this rate, the Indian government will also have a similar book, though in digital form, with the Aadhar numbers of all those who are “Indians”. For the rest of us, more and more detention centres would be built like the one nearing completion in Assam which can accommodate over 3,000. Alas, suspicion begets suspicion!

( ajphilip@gmail.com)

(Published on 06th January 2020, Volume XXXII, Issue 01)