As India celebrates the 71st Republic Day, between the 70th and 71st Republic Days, the country has covered a lot of distance in the right direction. Between January 26, 2019 and January 26, 2020, India stands changed in more ways than one. Four big developments in the following chronology have ensured that India moves forward in the right direction:
1. Balakot airstrikes:
On February 26, 2019, the Indian Air Force (IAF) had struck deep inside Pakistani territory, and had dropped payloads at the JeM terror training camps in Balakot in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan.
India’s pre-emptive, non military action had made it clear that India won’t tolerate a foreign power fomenting terrorism against India. This heralded a new era of offensive defence in India’s military doctrine. Later, throughout the year, India carried out a number of military reforms such as the creation of the post of CDS, India’s one point military adviser to the Government, as part of India’s strategy to nip any terror or other external threat against India in the bud.
2. Modi government’s thumping victory:
The Modi government had come to power with a humongous mandate in 2014. The opposition had become vindictive and desperate by 2019. From personal attacks to unnatural alliances like the SP-BSP coalition in Uttar Pradesh, all attempts were made to block the BJP from coming back to power.
If 2014 had heralded a new era, when the country broke out of the fetters of vote bank and appeasement politics, 2019 was an even stronger affirmation of the political process that started in 2014.
A giant mandate for PM Modi in 2019 was indeed a historic change that led to landmark and bold decisions such as Article 370 abrogation, CAA, etc.
3. Triple Talaq abolition:
On August 1, 2019, President Ram Nath Kovind gave assent to the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Act, 2019 passed by the Parliament. The legislation not only bans the practice of instant Triple Talaq, but also provides for a punishment of upto 3 years imprisonment for Muslim men giving instant Triple Talaq to their wives.
The practice of Triple Talaq, which gives unlimited power to the husband to end the marriage has often been seen as discriminatory and misogynistic. In 2017, the apex court had also held Talaq-e-Biddat (instant Triple Talaq) to be unconstitutional. With this historic legislation however India has finally ensured that Muslim women no longer have to bear the brunt of the unconscionable practice.
4. Article 370 abrogation:
“Is Desh Mein Do Vidhan, Do Pradhan aur Do Nishan, nahin chalenge.” 66 years after the demise of Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, the man who gave this unifying slogan, India finally achieved his long cherished dream of “One Nation, One Union, One Constitution, One Prime Minister and One Flag”. On August 5, 2019, India abrogated Article 370 of the Constitution, effectively scrapping the special status of the erstwhile state of Jammu & Kashmir.
Scrapping Article 370 and as a corollary, Article 35-A, make the integration of Jammu & Kashmir with the Union of India, final and complete, reinforcing in no uncertain terms, the supremacy of the Indian Parliament and the Constitution of India. However, India not only carried out the abrogation of Article 370, but has also carried out a major reorganisational reform by bifurcating the erstwhile state into two Union Territories- Ladakh and Jammu & Kashmir, thus fulfilling the long pending demand of the people of Ladakh. The bifurcation became effective from October 31, 2019, viz. the Birth Anniversary of India’s first Union Home Minister, Sardar Patel that India celebrates as the Rashtriya Ekta Diwas (National Unity Day).
5. Ram Mandir verdict:
On November 9, 2019, the Supreme Court of India pronounced a historic verdict deciding the Ayodhya Ram Janambhoomi dispute. In its verdict the Supreme Court decided that the entire 2.77 acre-disputed site belongs to the Hindus. The apex court also allotted five acres of alternate land to the Muslims for construction of a mosque.
The verdict thus brought a long wait for the Lord Ram devotees to an end. The 491-year old Ayodhya-Ram Janmabhoomi dispute was languishing in Courts for the last 134 years, and the first civil suit in the matter dates back to 1885. It was filed by Mahant Raghubir Das in January 1885 in the Court of the Sub-Judge, Faizabad. In his plea, Mahant Raghubir Das had demanded permission to construct a temple on the chabutara outside the so-called Babri Masjid.
Last month, Union Home Minister Amit Shah assured the Hindu community across the world about the construction of a grand Ram Mandir at Lord Ram’s birthplace. He said, “Construction of the sky- touching-grand Ram Temple in Ayodhya would be initiated in four months.”
6. Citizenship Amendment Act:
Modi government was on a roll throughout 2019, and it would have been a shame had the year ended without the present dispensation taking a historic decision. Last month, the Modi government tabled the Citizenship Amendment Bill before the Parliament. The Bill, which was passed by the Parliament and subsequently received the President’s assent, creates a swifter path to grand citizenship upon any individual from the persecuted minorities, viz. Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, Parsis and Christians, who escaped to India facing persecution in the three Islamic countries of Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan. The Act also provides cut off date- December 31, 2014. Therefore, only those who sought refuge in India before 2015 stand to benefit by the virtue of this legislation.
These communities are minorities in India’s three neighbouring Islamic States. Many of them were not able to escape to India during the Partition and were subsequently persecuted in Pakistan and Bangladesh. India is the only country that they could possibly look forward to, and now India has embraced them with this legislation.
Modi government came to power with a giant and historic mandate last year. It was expected to fulfill its manifesto promises. However, even the BJP supporters wouldn’t have expected the government to fulfill some of its major promises at such a brisk pace. A lot has changed between January 26, 2019 and January 26, 2020. India stands much more secure and settled over the past one year.