The Hindu Editorial Analysis | Free PDF – 12th Jan ’19


Questions have been raised about the committee refusing Mr. Verma a personal hearing.

  • The panel apparently chose not to hear him on the ground that the Central Vigilance Commissioner, who held an inquiry on the Supreme Court’s earlier orders, had heard him in the presence of the retired judge, Justice A.K. Patnaik, a supervisor appointed by the court, and that the prima facie findings against Mr. Verma were enough to conclude that he should not remain in that office.
  •  As he was neither suspended nor transferred, but only given a post of equal rank, there was no need for a hearing.
  •  Even if this position is not strictly untenable from a legal standpoint, it has serious implications for the CBI’s independence.
  •  Future regimes may use this precedent to get such an adverse report against an inconvenient director and unseat him.
  • Demand for getting mr. Verma’s response should have been considered.
  •  Mr. Verma has claimed that the CVC report was based only on the complainant’s charges against him, and did not represent the cvc’s ‘findings’.
  • An important learning from the entire episode is that the bipartisan appointment process for the post with the presence of a high judicial functionary as envisaged by the 2003 amendments may not be enough to thwart political stratagems.
  •  Far from resolving the institutional crisis in the agency, the outcome may have deeply politicised it. When Bindu Ammini and Kanakadurga’s entry into the Ayyappa Temple at Sabarimala on January 2 elicited a ‘purification ritual’ from the shrine’s priests (picture), one was reminded of the purification of the Chavdar Tank at Mahad in 1927, following B.R. Ambedkar’s satyagraha for ‘Untouchables’ to drink water there. Brahmins from the area poured 108 earthen vessels of panchagavya, five organic substances associated with the holy cow, including its milk, urine and dung, into the tank to undo the supposedly “polluting” effects of close to 10,000 Mahars drinking the water. No freedom without equality at Sabarimala Freedom of religion means the right to practise one’s own religion, not the freedom to undermine fundamental rights

 The memory of Mahad

    •  Ambedkar’s Mahad satyagraha had two chapters, on March 19- 20, 1927 and on December 25, 1927
    • .The symbolism of mass drinking of the water, with Ambedkar himself taking the first sip, was akin to an act of civil disobedience.
    • Both were carefully planned, peaceful and disciplined protests, and yet were violently disrupted
    •  Mobs, rioters and police colluded to attack and disperse the Mahar satyagrahis; the local British administration ended up siding with the Hindu hardliners under the guise of not wanting to hurt the religious sentiments of this socially dominant and politically powerful group.
    • At that time Ambedkar’s efforts were focussed on claiming that the tank was a public resource and drawing water from it was a basic human right for ‘Untouchables’ as much as for others.
    • He was not interested in entering the Veereshwar Temple nearby. But he did play a role in temple entry satyagrahas at the Parvati Temple in Pune in 1929 and the Kalaram Temple in Nasik from 1930 to 1934
    • All these campaigns ultimately failed: upper castes pushed back using Brahmin strictures of adhikar (entitlement) and bahishkar (exclusion), arguments from private property, outright physical violence, as well as the law and order machinery of the colonial state to keep Dalits out.
    • Adding insult to injury, first they performed purification rituals, then they obtained stay orders from government authorities, and later they filed legal cases.
    • At no point did they hesitate to use tactics of intimidation.
    • At Mahad, Ambedkar endorsed the Gandhian language of satyagraha
    • But a decade later, Ambedkar was disgusted by the resilience of caste discrimination, terminally alienated from Gandhi on the question of Untouchability, and disillusioned about the political efficacy of satyagraha
    • Apart from the reactionary impulse to “purify” what has been sullied by the proposition of equality, Sabarimala is and is not like Mahad.
    • True, a specific group is targeted for exclusion in both cases: women of ages 10-50 (deemed reproductively active) at the Ayyappa Temple, and Dalits at the Chavdar Tank nearly a century ago.
    • But in today’s India, Article 14 of the Constitution guarantees equality, and the Supreme Court verdict of September 2018 further reiterates that females of any age have the right to perform the 41-day pilgrimage and worship at the Sabarimala shrine.
    • it is precisely Ambedkar’s momentous intervention in our life as a nation that gives us an egalitarian Constitution and a strong judiciary. He did not have these institutions to back him up during his own shattering struggle against caste, but he ensured that Untouchability was outlawed, and that equal citizenship and fundamental rights — regardless of gender or community — were enshrined in the charter document of the Indian Republic
    • The historic precedent of Vaikom, together with the gains of decades of progressive politics in postcolonial Kerala, make the resurgence of religious orthodoxy, caste mentality and misogynistic patriarchy at Sabarimala hard to swallow.
  • The 5-million strong, 620 km “Wall of Women” on New Year’s Day saw Kerala’s women asking for the right to worship Ayyappa like their male counterparts. Was this wall in 2019 like the “Walk on Mahad” in 1927? Yes, in a certain sense Freedom of religion means the freedom to practise and pursue one’s own religion, not the freedom to undermine the fundamental rights of others.
    • Parliament ended the penultimate session of this Lok Sabha with both Houses passing the Constitution (124th Amendment) Bill, 2019
    • The process by which this was done illustrates the collective failure of parliamentarians to review the government’s proposals and hold it to account. Hurrying through a legislation The passage of the quota Bill highlights grave gaps in India’s parliamentary procedures
    • Hasty steps:
    •  Let us review the sequence of events.
    •  On Monday (January 7), it was reported that the Cabinet had approved a Bill to provide reservation to poor candidates regardless of their caste, and that this would be introduced in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday, the last day of the winter session. ▪ News reports also suggested that the Rajya Sabha would extend its session by a day, so that this Bill could be discussed on Wednesday
    • There was no formal press release by the Press Information Bureau.
    • The rules of procedure of the Lok Sabha require every Bill to be circulated at least two days ahead of introduction. • This is to give time for MPs to read the Bill and discuss it (or make objections) when the vote on the motion to introduce the Bill is taken up.
    • This Bill was not circulated, even on Tuesday morning.
    • At 11 a.m., when unstarred questions are tabled, one question concerned whether the government was “exploring the scope of providing reservation for poor candidates from forward communities for education and employment” and the details. • The Ministry categorically denied that there was any such proposal under consideration.
    • Then at 12.46 p.m., the Bill was introduced, with copies having been circulated to MPs a few minutes earlier.
    • The usual practice is to refer Bills to the respective standing committee of Parliament. This step allows MPs to solicit public feedback and interact with experts before forming their recommendations. In the case of this Constitution Amendment — clearly one with far-reaching implications — this scrutiny mechanism was bypassed.
    • The debate started around 5 p.m., just a few hours MPs had been given a copy. The debate ended around 10 p.m.
    • Meanwhile, the Rajya Sabha hardly functioned that day due to repeated disruptions. Finally, the chair adjourned the House till the next day
    • The Bill was not circulated ahead of being introduced,
    • it was not examined by a committee,
    • there was hardly any time between its introduction and final discussion.
    • Barring a few small parties, none of the larger Opposition parties asked for the Bill to be carefully considered by a parliamentary committee — even in the Rajya Sabha where they might have been able to muster the numbers to ensure this. The British contrast three important ways in which the British Parliament works better than ours.
    • First, the absence of an anti-defection law, so that each MP can vote her conscience.
    • Second, it is known exactly how each MP voted
    • In India, most votes (other than Constitution Amendments that need a two-thirds majority to pass) are through voice votes — just 7% of other Bills had a recorded vote over the last 10 years.
    • Third, the Speaker insisted on the supremacy of Parliament, and allowed a motion against the wishes of the government. ▪Unlike in India, the independence of the Speaker is secured in the U.K.
    • as no party contests against the Speaker in the next general election.
    • frequent bypassing of committees (just 25% of Bills have been referred to committees in this Lok Sabha), insufficient time and research support to examine Bills, and the lack of a calendar (Parliament is held at the convenience of the government).
  • We need to address each of these issues to strengthen Parliament and protect our democracy. U.S. President promises changes to H-1B visas U.S. President Donald Trump said on Friday he is planning changes to the H-1B programme that grants temporarily visas to highly educated immigrants who work in specialty occupations such as technology or medicine “H1-B (sic) holders in the United States can rest assured that changes are soon coming which will bring both simplicity and certainty to your stay, including a potential path to citizenship,” Mr. Trump said on Twitter. “We want to encourage talented and highly skilled people to pursue career options in the U.S.” The MoU says that the state agency, HP Power Corporation Ltd (HPPCL), will construct, operate and maintain the project while Centre will fund it. ISRO cranks up Gaganyaan project Agency announces the setting up of Human Space Flight Centre, names Unnikrishnan Nair as director The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on Friday said work on ‘Gaganyaan’, the project to send a manned mission to space by 2022, would start soon at the newly created Human Space Flight Centre (HSFC). “Gaganyaan is our highest priority now,” K. Sivan, ISRO Chairman and Secretary, Department of Space, told reporters • “The year 2019 has started with a big bang with Gaganyaan getting the government’s approval and budget for putting three astronauts in space for seven days,” Dr. Sivan said.
  • The astronauts will orbit Earth at a distance of 400 km.
  • The heavy lift launch vehicle GSLV Mark III, which got operational in November after its second successive flight in a row, must be suitably certified or humanrated. It will have two non-crew flights in December 2020 and July 2021.
  • The actual flight with crew is targeted to happen by December 2021 — to meet the Prime Minister’s goal of August 2022, India’s 75th Independence anniversary
  • What is the implications of some celebrities talking unwanted and sometimes unconstitutional things on public platform or behaving in unscrupulous manner in public on the public sphere? What comments you give to improving this moral and ethical issue ?(250 words) making procedure, the most important task in the democracy. Comment (250 words)

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