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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - NEW DELHI: The Indian government is deploying its resources to contain the damage to the country’s international reputation after a string of contentious domestic policies and programs in the first six months of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s second tenure.
New Delhi is concerned about the international fallout from the domestic debate over the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), legislation which promises to grant citizenship to minorities from three Islamic neighbors — Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan — but excludes Muslims.
For almost three weeks there have been continuous protests across the nation against the law which many call discriminatory and consider an attack on the secular foundations of the country.
People are also agitated over New Delhi’s proposed plan to introduce the National Register of Citizens (NRC), an exercise to identify genuine citizens of India.
There is a fear that the Muslim community would be the victim of this exercise as people from other religious groups would have the protection of the CAA.
Large-scale protests have dominated the headlines of the international media in the past three weeks.
Former Indian Foreign Secretary and National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon said that India is ‘isolated’ as a result of the Citizenship Amendment Act and National Register of Citizens.
The killing of 22 Muslim protesters and excesses committed against Muslims in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have also found extensive coverage in the international press.
The Indian Foreign Ministry said on Thursday that it is fighting a perception battle and trying to “reach out” to countries across the globe on issues “internal to India.”
Raveesh Kumar, a ministry spokesperson, said: “We have reached out to countries across all geographical regions. We have written to our missions and posts. We have told them to share our perspectives on the CAA and the NRC with the host governments.”
He argued most of the countries have accepted India’s position.
Indian foreign missions abroad and officials interacting with embassies in Delhi are saying that CAA and NRC are not linked and that the citizenship law does not take away the citizenship of any Muslims; it only gives Indian citizenship to persecuted minorities who are already living in India.
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