Episode 91 of political satirist Akash Banerjee’s web show The Desh Bhakt opens with the host holding a house made of Lego blocks. Banerjee compares India to a house of Lego, with its many diverse communities equivalent to the blocks, and shows what happens if we break them off selectively. “This is exactly what the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill is aimed at doing: breaking our nation,” he says.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, passed in Lok Sabha in January 2019 seeks to grant citizenship to Hindus, Jains, Christians, Sikhs, Parsis, and Buddhists from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan after six years of residence in India instead of 12, even if they do not have the requisite documents.
Banerjee has raised problems in providing citizenship based on religion, arguing that the global norm is to provide citizenship or asylum based on need or talent. He also questions the availability of resources in India to sustain a religion-based influx of people.
This episode of The Desh Bhakt also covers debates surrounding the National Register of Citizens. The case of Mohammed Sanaullah, a retired honorary lieutenant of the Indian Army, was revisited during the show. Sanaullah, who served during the Kargil War, was declared an “illegal immigrant” under the NRC and sent to a detention camp.