"Nationalism and stronger national consciousness are important, but you have to watch out. If you have too much weight on Hindu politics in India, you have to consider the reactions of Muslim people and Sikh people within the country; it could lead to destabilisation in the long run," Austrian lawyer and politician Werner Fasslabend said on Wednesday in New Delhi during a discussion at the Raisina Dialogue on 'Competing Nationalism, Universal Norms: Street Power in 21st Century Diplomacy'.
India has been witnessing a series of protests the last few weeks over the new contentious Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), which allows only persecuted Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis, and Christians illegal immigrants from neighbouring Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh to attain Indian citizenship if they arrived before 2015. The Muslim population feels the law is discriminatory towards their community.
Further commenting on the protests in India, and its relationship with other countries, Fasslabend said: "The effect is not just internal but external as well. India has a good geopolitical place, but it has to consider countries in West Asia, and the Muslim population in those areas, which will be affected due to the reaction of the Muslim population inside India. While nationalism can bring strength, it can also divide."
Many view the CAA as a violation of the Indian constitution because it grants citizenship based on religion. Although it excludes Muslims, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has stressed that the law does not discriminate against any religious group and doesn't affect any of the country's citizens. Home Minister Amit Shah also clarified in parliament, that the CAA doesn't affect Indians' citizenship but allows persecuted people to receive citizenship in India.
More than 2,000 people have been arrested and nearly 5,000 others detained during anti-CAA protests in different parts of the country.