Last October, this author was invited to take part in a public debate at a leading National Law School in Southern India (not “South India”) on the topic “Do We Need a Nation-Wide NRC?”. The debate, a video of which is available on YouTube for public consumption, was organised in the backdrop of the publication in September of the consolidated yet not final National Register of Citizens (NRC) prepared exclusively for the State of Assam. The consolidated list resulted in the exclusion of 1.9 million persons, mostly Hindus, who must prove their bona fides through appellate mechanisms in order to be included in the list. In the debate, this author took the position that while, in principle, a nation-wide NRC must be undertaken to deal with the silent cancer of illegal migration which is eating into the vitals of the country, the flaws in the process which have been exposed by the Assam NRC must be addressed before the mechanism is implemented on a national scale at considerable expense to the taxpayer. This author further argued that along with a national NRC, the Union Government must work with State Governments to strengthen the options available under the Foreigners Act, 1946 to expedite the process of deportation of illegal migrants, or to render them electorally and politically redundant at the very least in the interest of civilisational security.
The subject of the instant piece is neither the NRC nor the author’s position on the merits of the NRC, but the characterization of the position as being rooted in “ethnocentrism” at the end of the debate by one of the organisers.