It is rare for well-meaning outsiders to tell India what it stands for. But this is what has been happening for some time. For instance, after cancelling a trip to India in the wake of the passage of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in Parliament, the Bangladesh foreign minister, A K Abdul Momen, chose to remind India that it is “historically a tolerant country which believes in secularism”. However, this “historic position will be weakened if they deviate from that”.
His misgivings were evidently about the divisive nature of the new law which focusses on all communities seeking Indian citizenship except the Muslims. The UN Human Rights Commission, too, voiced its concern about the measure—with a spokesperson referring to its “discriminatory” provisions and expressing hope that the Indian judiciary will “consider carefully the compatibility of the law with India’s international human rights obligations”.
The European Union was also hopeful that the law will be in sync with the Indian constitutional standards while the US Commission on International Religious Freedom argued that the legislation was taking a “dangerous turn in the wrong direction”. The US State Department called for the “protection of the religious minorities” in India in keeping with its “Constitution and democratic values”.