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European Parliament Has No Business Telling India What to and What Not to Do on CAA, Kashmir

What should worry India is that the resolutions further damage India’s image abroad as a secular, liberal and egalitarian society that does not discriminate on the basis of religion.

Zakka Jacob | CNN-News18@Zakka_Jacob

Updated:January 28, 2020, 11:53 AM IST
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European Parliament Has No Business Telling India What to and What Not to Do on CAA, Kashmir
The EU Parliament will take up, debate and possibly vote on as many as six resolutions against CAA and abrogation of Article 370. (Photo: Reuters)

India is gearing up for the European Parliament based in Strasbourg to take up, debate and possibly vote on as many as six resolutions moved by various Members of the European Parliament (MEPS) that are critical of India’s recent moves on the Citizenship Amendment Act and the abrogation of Article 370 in Kashmir.

India does not have a reason to worry on the count that these resolutions are non-binding and legally don’t count for anything. But what should worry India is that this further damages India’s image abroad as a secular, liberal and egalitarian society that does not discriminate on the basis of religion. What should also worry India is these resolutions have been moved from varied lawmakers, ranging from the left to right ideological spectrum.

The main resolution is sponsored by the centre-right European People’s party which is the largest bloc in the EP. The second biggest one is backed by the right-wing European Conservatives and Reformists. Both these resolutions say “an effective national asylum and refugee policy should be just and holistic in nature and is not discriminatory”.

The resolutions sponsored by the more left-wing parties like the Greens and Social Democrats rubbishes the CAA for creating the ‘largest statelessness crisis in the world’.

The move by the European parliament is a direct infringement into the internal affairs of India. Which is why the Speaker of the Lok Sabha Om Birla wrote to his European counterpart urging him that it is “inappropriate for one legislature to pass judgement on another. A practice that can be surely misused by vested interests.” It would also set a bad precedent, he wrote.

What’s to stop India from passing resolutions on the rise of anti-immigrant sentiment in Europe in our Lok Sabha? It would lead to a needless cycle of trying to play holier than thou.

The European Parliament is also a largely toothless body whose opinion may or may not have a bearing on the actual decision making bodies of the European Union, which are the European Council and the European Commission.

Which is perhaps why the European Union spokesperson Virginie Battu-Henriksso distanced the Union from the resolutions brought forth in Parliament. She said “the opinions expressed by the European Parliament do not represent the official position of the European Union”.

Both of these bodies realise the importance that India brings with it as a trading partner and as one of the biggest markets in the world for European goods and services. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is due to visit Brussels in mid-March for the 15th annual India-EU summit. He could expect his European interlocutors to wink and nudge him on both CAA and Article 370. It would make for ‘bad optics’ at worst.

But one thing India can’t fault the Europeans for is this. It is India that went courting Members of the European Parliament by taking them on a ‘sponsored trip’ to Kashmir. Why should India care about the opinion of such inconsequential MEPs that it had to roll the red carpet out for them? One of those MPs who was part of the delegation that visited Kashmir is also one of the co-sponsors of one of the six resolutions.

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