Why Chhattisgarh Chief Minister’s ‘I Won’t Fill NRC Form’ Statement Is Devoid Of Logic

by R Jagannathan - Dec 18, 2019 12:38 PM +05:30 IST
Why Chhattisgarh Chief Minister’s ‘I Won’t Fill NRC Form’ Statement Is Devoid Of LogicChhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel. (Bhupesh Baghel/Twitter)
Snapshot
  • When Baghel says that he won’t fill any form to prove he is Indian, he is essentially saying that recognition should be automatic. “Don’t you know who I am?”

    Sorry, that is not the way the world works.

The Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh, Bhupesh Baghel, has gone on record to say that he will not fill any form if asked to do so for the National Register of Citizens (NRC).

In an interview to The Times of India, he had this to say. “Every Indian will be required to fill a form. If the government tries to do this, I will be the first individual and CM to not fill the form or sign it. If I need to furnish a certificate to prove my Indianness, I will not do it.”

This is specious logic. Every Indian is already required to fill many forms, and even though this can be tiresome, there is no alternative to it. If Baghel is so cut up about having to fill a form, let him try doing the same when he applies for a visa to go abroad. He can tell the US consulate, “I am an Indian Chief Minister. Don’t you know who I am that you need me to fill out forms for the same?” He will get his answer. “Then don’t come to the US.”

Indians have to fill forms to report a birth, a death, for obtaining a driving licence, for a bank account, for gas connections, for marriage certificates, and for passports and visas, not to speak of school and college admissions. Form-filling can be electronic and painless, but there is no escape from it for any Indian.

Baghel’s logic is not different from the one adopted by arrogant netas, who refuse to subject themselves to airport or other security checks, or show identity documents when entering restricted areas, or pay tolls when they are demanded. High dignitaries may actually be exempted from paying tolls or from being subjected to personal frisking because they are chief ministers or judges or even members of Parliament, but it is a typical Indian form of egotism that they resent having to prove who they are. They expect everybody to know who they are.

If Baghel is so opposed to the idea of filling forms, he should ask why millions of other Indians should do so for ordinary reasons.

Pensioners, for example, have to annually prove they are alive, when this sounds like a foolish requirement. If I am not alive, why would I want a pension? I know I am alive, so why should I prove I am not dead?

The answer lies in the reality that when it comes to dealing with the state, the obvious also needs to be backed with documentary or other proof. This is not true only in India, but all over the world.

So, when Baghel says that he won’t fill any form to prove he is Indian, he is essentially saying that recognition should be automatic. “Don’t you know who I am?”

Sorry, that is not the way the world works.

Jagannathan is Editorial Director, Swarajya. He tweets at @TheJaggi.
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